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Brand Storytelling 2019 Convenes Top Brands, Decision Makers, & Creatives

Brand Storytelling Director Rick Parkhill with The Head and The Heart and joyful eventgoers

Brand Storytelling concluded its third self-titled event on Saturday, January 26th, in Deer Valley, Utah. The exclusive event celebrated the growing class of brand-funded content that reaches a brand’s audience through thoughtful, emotive, and innovative storytelling. Brand Storytelling: A Sanctioned Event of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival united over 350 attendees, including top marketing leaders, decision makers, and C-Suite executives from over 200 brands, agencies, and media companies. In attendance were new media innovators and filmmakers Casey Neistat and Mikey Alfred, YouTubers Laurie Shannon and Gemma Stafford, artists DVSN, The Head and The Heart, and Sam Harris of X Ambassadors, country stars Lindsay Ell and Mickey Guyton, and singer, comedian, and actress Rachel Crow. This collection of forward-thinking representatives from all sides of the business gathered for three days of presentations, panels, screenings, performances, networking, and exclusive activities. “Truly, this is a moment in time,” said Rick Parkhill, Co-Founder and Director of Brand Storytelling. “There’s a whole new era that’s just beginning where brands are understanding their role in the content ecosystem. They’re not just creating commercials and branded content – they’re funding shows that have rigor, editorial credibility, great actors, and incredible directors. (Brands) are immersing themselves in the entertainment industry and finding their place in it all. This is a turning of the tide in which brands are more excited than ever to look into programs that are really worthy of major investment.”

The program kicked off Wednesday night with a special discussion featuring musical guests Mickey Guyton and Rachel Crow, after which both performed at the Brand Storytelling welcome reception presented by brand partner Twitter. On Thursday, esteemed television executive, Chairman and Co-CEO of Propagate Content Ben Silverman took the stage to discuss the future of media and opportunities within that future for brands, followed by presentations from Turner Networks, True {X}, YouTube, IBM, Tastemade, ZEFR, Jukin Media, and Facebook. Afterwards, guests enjoyed the Spotify cocktail reception and RYOT Studio Sundance Kick-Off Party featuring live music from Lindsay Ell and X Ambassadors’ Sam Harris.

Friday featured case studies and best-of-year content showcases from partners Shareablee, Vudu, BEN, Wattpad Brand Partnerships, RYOT Studio, Insider Inc., Facebook, Group Nine, The Washington Post, Studio 71, Turner, Matador, Airstream, Google, and YouTube. Attendees gained inspiration from the words of Matthew Griffin, former Army Ranger and purpose-driven Co-Founder of Combat Flip Flops who, in turn, was inspired by the passion of his audience. “This is the best event I’ve ever been to,” said Griffin. “I think there are so many people here who can make an amazing impact on the world and I think they’re going to come out of here and do it.” Panels turned to collaborative conversations and celebration at the YouTube Cocktail Party, featuring demonstrations from top YouTubers Gemma Stafford and Laurie Shannon and a private intimate performance by R&B duo DVSN.

Saturday at Brand Storytelling featured a bevy of creative talent, with presentations of new work from Casey Neistat and Adobe presented by The Social Standard, curated vertical content written by and starring Andrea Ellsworth and Kasey Elise, directed by up-and-coming film talent Mikey Alfred, incredible work from RedGlass Pictures presented by HP, selections from the “Wishes Delivered” film campaign by UPS, and the premiere of IBM’s new film “Code & Response” presented by IBM’s own Chief Digital Officer Bob Lord.

In addition to screenings, Saturday featured a powerhouse of a panel presented by Women in Entertainment, the organization bringing together forward-thinkers from all areas of the entertainment industry to explore topics that greatly impact women, from human rights and women’s leadership to storytelling across platforms and empowering the next generation of women to emerge as creatives. Afterwards, guests shuttled up to the Silver Lake Lodge for the evening’s final screening – a presentation of Johnson & Johnson’s hero film “5B” about the nurses that built the first AIDS ward in 1980’s San Francisco, followed by a rousing private performance from acclaimed folk band The Head and The Heart.

Brand Storytelling 2019 was the highest attended Brand Storytelling event to date, and for good reason. “I keep coming back to Brand Storytelling because it’s a place to get a pulse-check on what’s happening in the industry and what’s really going on, what’s working and not working, and who’s experimenting with what,” said Brian Newman, Founder of Sub-Genre, a strategic consulting company specializing in developing campaigns to connect films with audiences. “When you go to the panels at Brand Storytelling you actually learn something.” Thought leadership isn’t where Brand Storytelling’s impact ends. “We’re seeing real business happen at this conference,” said Matt Wind, Agent, Brand Partnerships, Digital Talent & Packaging at CAA. “We’re seeing a lot of relationships that started here in previous years, whether it was in the summer at Elevate or at a previous Brand Storytelling event, where now people are going on stage between brand and partner and showing off work on things that originated here. It’s awesome to see business developing out of this conference – not just thought leadership, but also business.”

Brand Storytelling: A Sanctioned Event of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival took place on January 23-26 at the Lodges at Deer Valley, Stein Eriksen Lodge, and Silver Lake Lodge in Deer Valley, Utah.

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