top of page

Next Cohort Begins July 8th, 2024

Purpose Driven Brand Storytelling


BSTplus Black.png

Sponsored by brands and taught by industry thought leaders, your learning experience is unlike anything in the industry. Your applied learning experience is powered by East Tennessee State University and our approach connects you to our brand storytelling community. 

Sponsored By


Earn a professional certification in Purpose-Driven Brand Storytelling.

4-week online, asynchronous learning experience sponsored by

Special Olympics with instruction by industry experts

Students will be presented an RFP from Special Olympics at the outset of the course and apply the 4-week learnings to deliver a response for consideration by the marketing team at

Special Olympics


The asynchronous experience allows you to complete the course on your own time

Live interaction with the sponsor and instructors

Tuition is included in Annual BrandStorytelling+ Membership ($500 USD)

Certification badge.png


Consumers want to engage with brands that entertain vs. interrupt. This course provides a foundation in all aspects of the brand-funded film.

MODULE 1: Brand Storytelling 101

Explore the robust history of brand entertainment and what drives its evolution and modern-day impact.

MODULE 2: Brand Film Journey

Learn the relationship between a brand and a filmmaking team and what it takes to produce a brand-funded film.

MODULE 3: The Business Behind the Brand Film

Participants learn about the types of deals and the basic protections for filmmakers and brands.

MODULE 4: Measuring & Distribution

Explore the types of distribution and ways strategy guides project decisions throughout the lifecycle of a film.


University-Powered Learning


Your academic learning experiences are powered by the East Tennessee State University Research Corporation.

BrandStorytelling Expert Faculty 


Our certification faculty have deep experience in brand-funded content.


Marc Battaglia is the co-founder of Story + Strategy and former global Executive Creative Director for Marriott International. He’s an award-winning creative executive and content marketing leader with a proven track record of building and leading internal brand creative agencies and studios.


Marcus Peterzell is the CEO of Passion Point Collective, a leading entertainment marketing agency. A true industry leader in pop culture marketing, he has successfully built and led award-winning agency teams both independently and within Omnicom, one of the largest advertising holding companies in the world. 

Jon-Thomas (J.T.) Royston grew up as a military brat, living in Germany, Hawaii, and Southern California. In the fall of 2020 he released his first feature-length documentary entitled BLACK BOYS which aired on NBC Peacock. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of the social justice documentary film company Never Whisper Justice, where he oversees production, operations, and impact.

Caitlin Boyle is the Director of Filmmaker Development at DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary film festival, and as a project manager at Auburn Media’s Hartley Media Impact Initiative. Caitlin spent a decade as Founder & Executive Director of Film Sprout where she executed 50 grassroots release campaigns and guided more than 300 additional film teams as they brought their films directly to grassroots audiences, on their own.


Brian Newman, founder of SubGenre, consults on content strategy, development, distribution and marketing for some of the top brands in the world. Brian has served as CEO of the Tribeca Film Institute, president of Renew Media and executive director of IMAGE Film and Video.  

Dawn Reese_edited.jpg

Dawn Reese is the US President of Mediabrands Content Studio. She is an experienced media executive and integrated marketer who creates and implements digital and social media strategies, branded content campaigns, experiential activations and sponsorship programs for brands to tell their story, engage their target audience and drive ROI. 

Julie Davitz is a globally-connected leader and change-maker with over 20 years of experience in the impact sector. She founded Plus Media Solutions to democratize access to positive social solutions. Julie formerly served as SVP, Head of Impact Solutions for BNP Paribas/Bank of the West’s Wealth Management division, supporting clients in creating nonprofit and for-profit lasting change while pursuing their personal impact and financial goals.

Sarah Colamarino brings deep expertise in purpose-driven strategy and marketing. Her marketing strategies received multiple industry awards including a Cannes Lion Grand Prix. She has 30+ years of experience at Johnson & Johnson most recently as Vice President, Corporate Brand Equity and Partnerships. Sarah has demonstrable success activating purpose through business, talent, ESG, DE&I, and brand strategies.

Chad Williamson is a producer for Never Whisper Justice (NWJ) and co-founder of Frontlines of Justice (FOJ). NWJ is a disruptive social justice media company fusing bold storytelling and concrete social impact. FOJ is an online, video-centric eLearning platform designed to create social, racial, and educational justice through compelling content and curriculum. NWJ in corporate partnership with Procter & Gamble /Juniper Networks released its first feature-length documentary entitled BLACK BOYS which aired on NBC Peacock.


Dr. Stephen Marshall is a professor in the Department of Media and Communication at East Tennessee State University as well as a brand strategist for Creative Energy of Johnson City, Tennessee. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Florida. Marshall brings extensive professional and academic experience to every endeavor. Publications and research presentations focus on strategic brand and media strategies, multicultural advertising and educating for the changing media landscape. His large client portfolio includes consulting for companies like Adobe, Coca-Cola, Texas Pete, Glory Foods, Pal's Sudden Service, Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association and the Birthplace of Country Music Museum as well as various organizations at East Tennessee State University. 


Become a Master Brand Storyteller

World-Class Community and Content for Brands, Agencies, and Storytellers


Professional Certifications

Academically-powered professional certifications

40+ Brand Examples

Always-growing inspiring library of brand case studies and examples

100+ Hours of Content

Library of brand storytelling industry and academic resources 





Build Trust

white rocket.png

81% of consumers say they need to be able to trust the brand in order to buy from them.


white handshake.png

Increase Loyalty

Including emotional connection in your message is more likely to drive brand loyalty by 82%.



Engage Audiences

Brand content has a 59% higher brand recall than other digital ads.


white rocket.png

Boost Conversions

Storytelling helps you convert leads and boost conversion rates by 30%.

(Search Engine Watch)


I'm grateful to learn from thought leaders and innovators while bringing together filmmakers, marketers, and brand gurus from around the world.

Jared Cruce
Magic ⌲Logic ⌲ Story


Jenna Laurenzo
Writer & Director
Lez Bomb & Girl Night Stand

Jenna Laurenzo.jpeg

Great opportunity to learn, network, and collaborate. Thanks for putting this together with such inspiring faculty; sharing so much knowledge and giving so much generous guidance!

Marcus Peterzell
Passion Point Collective

Marcus Peterzell.jpg

As media and technology innovation continues to change audience engagement, brands and their partners must continuously learn about this communication art. 

Your BrandStorytelling+ membership includes unlimited access to content and experiences including lectures, live office hours, brand RFP pitches, professional interviews, case examples, and academic & industry white papers. 

Watch our lesson example below.

Brand Certification Sponsors 

BrandStorytelling thanks the following brands for being essential learning partners for our cohort experiences. Sponsor brands issue an RFP for participants to complete as part of the learning experience. Our sponsors also provide certification scholarships to improve DEI access to learning in our BrandStorytelling+ community.




Join the Community.


Connect, Learn,
Be Inspired.


Become a
Master Brand Storyteller.

With BrandStorytelling+, you get access to the lessons, certifications, events, and expert knowledge to unlock a new level of creativity and ROI.

bottom of page