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Mapping The Trails: Reach Agency’s Gabe Gordon Discusses Elevate's 'Invest' Trail

Last year’s Brand Storytelling Summer Event saw a collection of storytellers from brands, agencies, and creative companies all come together to further solidify the standards and practices surrounding the burgeoning business of telling brand stories. The different panels and discussions were lovingly labeled “trails”, given the summer weather and natural setting in stunning Deer Valley, Utah.

This year, we’ll be looking in depth at these “trails” ahead of time with our metaphorical trail guides, those who will lead the stage panels at Elevate 2018. Today we’re mapping the first trail with our first designated guide Gabe Gordon, Co-founder of Reach Agency. We sat down with Gabe to have him take us through what to expect out of Elevate Trail 1.


Hi Gabe. Happy to have you back for another year of Elevate. What can you tell us about Trail 1?

Metaphorically we can call it the “trail head.” Trail 1 is where it all starts: Investment. On this trail, attendees will learn how to make the right investment decisions. There are a lot of choices out there for marketers with constant innovation and an ever expanding palette of mediums and formats. In this discussion, we’ll dive deep into how to evaluate the landscape, from content types, formats, partners to platforms.

We’re happy to have you as a trail guide. Who else will be joining you on stage for the panel?

Lewis Henderson, who I worked with years ago at William Morris Agency. Lewis was the CEO of Davie Brown and recently launched Purpose Content, a production company and consultancy advising content, technology and digital media companies on creating strategic content partnerships with brands and the entertainment industry. Phil Daniels, one of the pioneers and leading digital entertainment attorneys in the business. Phil and I were on “The Business” trail last year. And of course Gloria Decoste, my longtime client and Head of Digital at Nestle. Gloria is true innovator and change agent in digital for the largest food company in the world.

The four of you will kick off the event by having an open conversation about investment - what else do you anticipate that conversation will entail?

We will look at the major challenges affecting multiple sides of the brand storytelling community. If you are a brand, how much content should you make and what type? If you are an agency, what is the risk profile between tried and true platforms and the new class? If you are a publisher what do you invest in to grow your audience and attract brands? Our community will be sharing case studies, both successful and not, while also offering sound advice on how to navigate the waters ahead.

Pictured: Gabe Gordon catching up with Shaun MacGillivray (MacGillivray-Freeman Films) and Marc Battaglia (JW Marriott).

Will this build upon last year’s first trail, or is this headed somewhere totally different?

Last year’s first trail, Setting the Scene, posited the question “why” when it comes to pursuing brand content. This year’s invest trail goes beyond the “why” and asks what should be pursued and for what objective. Where last year identified important questions and focused on how to find the right answers in order to start telling brand stories, we’re headed into this year with the given understanding that brand stories are being told; It’s happening. So now, the first trail will focus on the optimization of brand operations in brand storytelling with an emphasis on performance and growth. How will attendees be able to build on what they’ve heard from the panel?

Every panel is followed by curated group discussions. Context is key here, and in the discussions are where we hope attendees will be able to to contextualize the topic through testimonials of others, conversations and advice from colleagues. The goal and big difference with Elevate is to make everything actionable so that when people go back to their offices on Monday, they have a basis of information to act upon. What sort of outcomes do you anticipate or hope will come from the discussions?

As with all discussion in such a developing area, I hope first and foremost that we will find some comfort in shared experience; that no matter if you are a brand, publisher, agency or studio, you have experienced the same challenges. Second, and most importantly, I hope we will all learn from others who have tried, in success and failure, so that we as an intimate community can collectively better ourselves in the area of brand storytelling. Third, I hope that with such an assembly of leaders of industry, we can collectively help each other toward a common understanding of a path forward and drive progress in the industry.

About Gabe Gordon:

Gabe Gordon, co-founder and managing partner of Reach Agency, has 15 years of global experience in content marketing, building creative, integrated solutions for world-class brands such as General Motors, The NFL, Nestle, Walmart and PepsiCo.


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