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What is Elevate? Advisory Chair Todd Barrish Breaks it Down

Taking in the view of Deer Valley, Utah

Pictured: Shane Maidy (Polymath), Todd Barrish (Polymath) and Andrew Serby (Zefr)

Todd Barrish is an industry leader working broadly within the advertising/content space for nearly 20 years. Currently the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Polymath Group, a content-centric consultancy, Todd previously served as EVP, Creative Partnerships at Endemol Shine Beyond, spearheading the development and sales of digital formats. Prior to Endemol, Barrish served as SVP, Global Strategic Partnerships at Maker Studios, where he led the team that launched the company’s programmatic native content technology solution. Before Maker, Barrish was VP, Sales for Digital Broadcasting Group and the Rich Media Team Lead for Google/Doubleclick.

As Chair of the Brand Storytelling Advisory Board, Todd is leading the content development and agenda for Elevate, the annual summer retreat for brand storytellers and their partners. We connected with Todd to get the ins and outs of what to expect at Elevate:

Can you give our readers a brief background on Elevate, how it came to be and the mission that drives this event?

Of course! Elevate was the direct output of conversations started at Brand Storytelling at Sundance in 2016. The idea was to mobilize the Brand Storytelling community to dig deeper into the mechanics and greater purpose of brand funded content initiatives. That mission, to “elevate” the business of brand storytelling through working sessions with thought-leaders and trail blazers, is what truly sets this event apart.

What did you discover from the 2017 event that is guiding the content development and agenda for 2018?

The biggest takeaway is that the definition of Brand Storytelling is ever evolving. We are no longer simply talking about short form video series, influencers, etc… but, rather, the expanding universe of mediums from streaming/OTT to Podcasts to Cable to Social and beyond. With the widening of the definition, the conversations around format specific production, distribution and measurement have never been more necessary in driving the growth and maturation of the industry.

Presenters take the stage for 'Trail 1 - Setting the Scene' Pictured: Shannon Pruitt (The Story Lab), Kate Santore (Coca-Cola), Eric Korsh and Chip Russo (Zefr)

Can you describe the “Trails” that have been created for Elevate 2018 and the process the advisors went through to establish them?

As with everything with Brand Storytelling, the content is truly the result of the advisory board’s expert guidance and stewardship. For 2018, we are going to focus the conversation on the consumer experience, how brands and agencies choose to create and support projects and tactical discussions around distribution points and measurement. We’ll be taking attendees on a journey from the inception of a content strategy through the post campaign measurement. The event will kick-off with a brand panel focused on consumer experience planning, and from there we’ll dive into the trails starting with INVEST – which will explore how marketers and agency partners decide which formats, mediums and content initiatives they put their money behind, SUPPORT – in which we’ll dig into the question of buy, build or borrow, DISTRIBUTE – in which we’ll explore how you ensure your content has the right scale and is reaching your target audience, and, finally, MEASURE – where we’ll look for the common denominator in measuring content efficacy.

What sort of outcomes do you expect from the discussions?

Our hope with this retreat is that all in attendance come prepared with questions and insights on relevant topics, with the ultimate goal of helping the industry move toward more standardization in the business of content creation, distribution and measurement. Last year we had lively and constructive conversations on each trail, and we hope the content this year spurs even more dialogue and action.

Kevin Brown (SVP, CMO at Sleep Number) has the floor as attendees discuss and unpack the day's panel presentations.

How are partners involved in the content planning?

It can’t be stated enough – this is a participatory event in which we look to build a community of thought-leadership in all facets of brand storytelling. That includes content input from not only the advisory board, but partners as well. There is no industry without the distributors, measurement partners, media co’s, creatives and technology platforms.

Besides the planned presentations and working groups, how much deal making and networking time is being planned?

Outside of the content, it’s really the network of peers that makes this event so valuable. We’ll be planning a careful cadence of programming and networking time so that we can allow connections time to develop and flourish. Additionally, the Brand Storytelling team will be organizing a number of group activities to foster new connection and build lasting bonds – old and new.

How many of the advisors will be participating at Elevate this year?

This year we have participation from 21 advisors across the agency and brand spectrum… and miraculously we’ve had luck in making conference calls work on a consistent basis (hope I didn’t just jinx things!).


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