The Times Center was packed for this panel of dynamic executives, moderated by Steve Stoute- CEO and Founder, Translation- who was rocking the coolest kicks in the room by far
The panel started out with the notion of celebrities connecting with culture via social media and how that connection works. Eric Hirshberg, CEO Activation Blizzard Inc noted that social media made celebrities more accessible. “When used correctly, social media brings fans and admirers closer which increases their power.” Kimberly Paige, VP Marketing, Coca Cola agreed “It is all about access. There is so much info about celebrities now; it makes it more intimate, not necessarily less special. It’s up to us as marketers and brand managers to steward that conversation.” Pam El VP Marketing State Farm added on that some brands are afraid of celebrity, because you are so closely associated with them. Whatever the celebrity ends up doing becomes aligned with your brand (we all remember the cringe worthy sponsorship mishaps of Tiger Woods) State farm, the brand Pam manages, is obviously a more conservative one and they decided to align with the movie Cars. There is a glaringly obvious parallel between Cars, and insurance, and she knew the “celebrity” of lightening McQueen would not be followed around by TMZ at any point- so it’s a safe bet for them. Although aligning with a Disney movie differs from the typical “lazy campaigns for brands you have to have.” - it worked for them.
Speaking of celebrities, how could you miss the panel’s biggest celebrity? Naomi Campbell, Supermodel/Entrepreneurwas looking stunning in a purple business suit with sky high heels. Naomi spoke about why she thinks the fashion industry has been resistant to diversity, and how in her career she always aligned herself with brands that she felt embraced diversity. “I know a lot of people, and I love to bring people together. Versace always bought music and fashion together and I love that” Naomi is launching her own show “The Face” where she promises to show an “honest rigorous tough love approach” to modeling, using her 28 years’ experience as guidance.
Taking risks was a prevalent theme of the panel. Paul Chibe, VP US Marketing Anheuser Busch implored the audience “Your feelings towards risk have to change. With that risk comes authenticity. You are never going to have success setting culture from marketing if you don’t take risks.” Eric Hirshberg, CEO Activation Blizzard Incagreed, and added “You have to do it carefully. There is a passionate audience, so you have to retain the authenticity that appeals to the core audience while opening your arms to the mass audience”
Kim added on, and gave a shout out to her fellow panelist Luke Wood ”A lot of partners do not know how to tap into culture- You have to figure out how you are connecting to culture. There are special brands that have created something special- for example beats by Dre, created a culture of music.
L to R Paul Chibe, Luke Wood, Pam El, Eric Hirschberg, Kimberly Paige, Naomi Campbell
Mr. Beats by Dre himself- Luke Wood, President and COO, Beats by Dre talked about how easy it is to infuse these brands into the culture if you are authentic to the core of what your brand is- which is made easier when you are working with “oppositional cultural actors” like Jimmy Iovine & Dr Dre. “As we pushed it into culture we think about- what do we believe in? Beats- we focus on sound. Whatever is right to [Jimmy and Dre] and feels good, and is authentic. You use the platform to create culture around an individual packaged good. We are really just chasing an artist’s dream- not inventing anything.” He used an example of how recently, the Olympic athletes wore Dr. Dre Beats headphones in London this year, not because they gave it to them or wanted them to but because they appropriated the moment. Beats by Dre was just “being in the water swimming in culture”
The moral of the marketing story? Be authentic. And don’t be lazy. Everyone is paying attention! Eric Hirschberg emphasized how social media content matters more than ever. “Social media works when something is admirable, and when it is not. You can’t market your way out of everything, you have to behave your way out of everything”
Brands- take note!