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The Elevate Workshops: A Complete Guide

Jordan P. Kelley, Content Director, Brand Storytelling

Please select 4 workshops below to add to your calendar
Attendees: Please select 4 workshops below to add to your calendar

The Brand Storytelling Team, with the support of Story + Strategy, has been hard at work conducting brand research to determine the most salient topics for exploration at this year's Summer retreat for brand storytellers and their partners. The input received from one-to-one interviews with brands has been invaluable, and we're grateful to all who have participated in the process. As a result of your input, we've selected eight topics for this year's Elevate workshops that are a direct reflection of the needs and interests expressed by our community. Here's a closer look at the workshops we have in store for Elevate 2022:

Each participant at Elevate will have to chance to attend 4 out of the 8 workshops - giving you the chance to customize the content that is right for you. Please select 4 workshops below to add to your calendar.


Workshop Block One

TikTok for Brands

10 AM - July 12th and 13th

Redford Conference Center Room A

Although TikTok has been a part of the global consciousness for four years, nailing a brand presence within the social platform can still be very tricky. It’s clear brands want to participate but often don’t know where or how especially considering already constrained content creation resources. Led by Reach Agency Co-Founder Gabe Gordon, this workshop will examine how brands should think about content creation on TikTok by discussing safe entry into the space, pointing at successful examples of brand TikTok content, and how to best partner with and utilize popular TikTok content creators.

Workshop Leader:

Gabe Gordon

Partner & Founder, Reach Agency

Gabe Gordon is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Reach, a creative agency built for the evolving world of digital video storytelling. The award winning agency has been recognized for its contributions to digital storytelling for the social generation. Gordon’s success with creator-driven vertical video for social media is demonstrated in his ability to find a natural fit between creator and brand, yielding authentic brand-forward content generated in each individual content creators’ personal style.

Brand Storytelling Organizations Built for Today

10 AM - July 12th and 13th

Redford Conference Center Room B

Branded content is transitioning from a marketing option to an audience attention-capturing essential. New content models demand a new organizational structure, but where is the best place to start? What are the core needs to build a team around? Should new team members come from existing teams or get hired from the outside? This workshop led by Care Access CMO and former SVP, Head of Brand and CCO at Andrew Strickman will explore how to plan, launch, and scale emerging content teams - pointing at best-in-class examples, discussing how to integrate with existing teams and when to work a problem in-house vs. outsourcing.

Workshop Leader:

Andrew Strickman

For nearly half of his career, Andrew Strickman has cultivated expertise in leading teams built to meet the demands of changing times. Andrew's executive marketing leadership focused on brand building and breakthrough creative deeply influenced the success of, building the fastest growing brand in digital real estate (per Comscore). Under his leadership, saw 4x growth in audience over his 8-year tenure resulting from a 51% increase in brand awareness.

Brand Storytelling Distribution

10 AM - July 12th and 13th

Sundance Rehearsal Hall A

Content distribution can be an enigma for brands. All too often brands can see where they want their content to land but fall short of getting it there. How can brands compete in the content market when the content itself struggles to break through? This workshop led by Sub-Genre Founder Brian Newman will focus on best practices for content distribution through traditional channels like the festival circuit, along with exploring non-traditional and emerging alternatives, examining how to keep audiences engaged during and after launch, and how to scale up content distribution once you’ve found the channels that work for you.

Workshop Leader:

Brian Newman

Founder, Sub-Genre

Brian Newman is the founder of Sub-Genre, a strategic consultancy that guides brands through the process of leveraging entertainment for marketing & CSR initiatives. Sub-Genre works directly with brands, with studios that are helping brands, and with agencies on strategy, development, audience identification, research, campaign design, and distribution. Brian’s expertise at the intersection of telling brand stories and traditional film production uniquely position him to aid brands in the ideation, production, and distribution of their stories. His past/present clients include REI, The Climate Pledge/Amazon, Purina, Oatly, Mud\Wtr, the New York Times, Shopify Studios, Stripe, Unilever, Patagonia, and more. Brian is also the producer of the films “The Outside Story” and “Love & Taxes”, as well as the executive producer of Shored Up, The Invisible World, and Remittance. He has served as the CEO of Tribeca Film Institute, President of Renew Media and Executive Director of IMAGE Film & Video. Brian founded the Brand Film Alliance and writes a popular weekly newsletter for film and branded content professionals:

Brand Storytelling Transformed

10 AM - July 12th and 13th

Sundance Rehearsal Hall B

The global pandemic catalyzed serious change in our lives, reframing what’s most important to us not just as individuals, but as a society. For brands, forced innovation became the main driver of a major paradigm shift in communicating values to an audience searching for empathy. Where some succeeded, others failed - but why? What separates the brand that fosters consumer loyalty from the brand that gets labeled inauthentic? How does storytelling play a part? This workshop, led by Story + Strategy Co-Founder Shawn Brain with speakers Julie Davitz (Founder, CEO, Plus Media Solutions) and Sarah Colamarino (Founder, SC Blueprint Inc) will explore lessons learned in the wake of the last two years, how storytelling has evolved as a result, and what the future of empathetic, empowering storytelling looks like.

Recommended films and articles for review in advance of the session include:

Workshop Producer:

Shawn Brain


Shawn Brain, Co-Founder of consultancy Story + Strategy, has 14+ years experience as a strategic and creative marketing leader focused on brand strategy, communications, and integrated marketing. She has led marketing strategy and comms for global Fortune 500 brands, cultivating an eye for the way organizations must transform to connect with a changing world. Shawn currently serves as an adjunct instructor in marketing at The Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School.

Guest Speaker:

Julie Davitz

Founder & CEO, Plus Media Solutions

A globally-connected leader and changemaker with over 20 years of experience in the impact sector, Julie Davitz 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. Julie is committed to sharing her deep experience and expertise to increase awareness of impact solutions, improve effectiveness in the social impact space and build collaborative relationships.

Guest Speaker:

Sarah Colamarino

Founder, SC Blueprint Inc

Sarah Colamarino is a purpose driven advisor, brand strategist, marketing consultant, and not-for-profit board leader. Her expertise and leadership in purpose-driven marketing, activating purpose through business, and brand strategies served her well in her long tenure at Johnson & Johnson, where she left as Vice President, Corporate Brand Equity and Partnerships. Today her consultancy, SC Blueprint Inc, helps others build purpose through strategy and operations, talent retention, and DE&I initiatives.


Workshop Block Two

The Business Behind Brand Storytelling

11 AM - July 12th and 13th

Redford Conference Center Room A

What is the measurable “win” for Brands beyond views, and what are best legal/business practices in producing a brand film?

Many of today’s brands still struggle with the ROI of Brand Funded films, especially if their products are not front and center. We will explore how brands CAN and do meet marketing goals outside of just views and social engagement. We will show case studies of award winning brand films and how the brands leveraged the film across new and unexpected channels. Finally we will show what 3 KPI’s MUST be agreed upon before greenlighting a brand film.

We will then explore how best to structure deals with creators, talent, rights-holders and distributors that may not be aligned with “traditional” brand marketing practices. How can brands better understand and approach deal structures as “entertainment” while still meeting the brands needs. We will explore:

--Who should own the IP in the film?

--Who takes the risk and liability in brand films?

--How do you structure derivative rights with the directors and producers?

--How do you control out of context use by brands?

--Who should share in any ancillary revenue?

--Why would it benefit a brand NOT to have final cut?

This workshop, led by Marcus Peterzell and Amy Slotnick of entertainment marketing agency Passion Point Collective will break down the basic do’s and don’ts of the business of brand storytelling to better define expectations for partnered branded content projects.

Workshop Leader:

Marcus Peterzell

Founder, Passion Point Collective

Marcus is the Founder and CEO of Passion Point Collective, a leading entertainment marketing agency which has guided more brand funded films than any other traditional agency. At Passion Point Collective, he has created dozens of award-winning branded entertainment campaigns for brands. Brand film projects include HP’s “Dear Future Me” and “Wake Up” directed by Olivia Wilde, Neutrogena’s “In the Sun”, 3M’s “Not the Science Type”, and Aflac’s “The Park Bench” directed by Rob Edwards.

Workshop Leader:

Amy Slotnick

Vice President, Passion Point Collective

With extensive experience in the film industry, encompassing independent film distribution, impact marketing, story development and production, along with an MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business, Amy has a deep understanding of both the creative and business of making and selling films. As SVP at Passion Point Collective, Amy currently produces, distributes and markets films for international brands, with A-list producers and directors, to promote a brand's ethos and mission through storytelling.

Prior to working with Passion Point Collective Amy worked as Senior Vice President of Production/Development at Miramax/Disney Films. She served as producer and executive producer of eight films that premiered at the Sundance, Toronto, Venice and Tribeca film festivals, which went on to earn eight Academy Award nominations and three Oscar wins.

Getting Inspired: Best of Craft

11 AM - July 12th and 13th

Redford Conference Center Room B

Brand Storytellers are always looking to discover what’s next at the intersection of ideation, subject, storyfinding, medium, and platform. What ideas are out there waiting to be discovered? How do brands build a repository of great stories? What are best practices for speaking great ideas into existence? This workshop, featuring WeTransfer on Tuesday and The Climate Pledge on Wednesday, seeks to offer inspiration by examining best-in-class brand films and dissecting how they were made as well as where the spark of inspiration for these works was born.

Workshop Leader:

Stephen Marshall, Ph.D.

CMO, ETSU Research Corporation

Stephen Marshall is an award-winning professor, (digital) marketer, and higher education administrator. Marshall consults and trains companies, universities, and students to digitally transform customer experiences to exceed goals. Stephen has held positions on the agency, client, research, marketing tech, and education sides of the media/marketing business. Stephen is the co-creator and director of the Brand Storytelling Certification in Brand Film, bridging the education gap between marketing, brand, storytelling, and film.

Guest Speaker (Tuesday):

Annie Laurie Malarkey

Brand and Product Communications Lead, WeTransfer

Annie Malarkey leads the strategy and production of key research-based brand projects such as the annual Ideas Report and Emerging Creative Hubs Index to strengthen WeTransfer's position as a thought leader in the world of creative work. She manages the external communications of all brand and product launches, including comms strategy, press releases, and agency management. Annie has a passion for amplifying new voices in art, design, and technology, working with companies who want to share their message creatively.

Guest Speaker (Tuesday):

Tiffany Yu

Head of Music, WeTransfer

Tiffany Yu is head of music at WeTransfer, where she accelerates the company's support for artists and its ongoing commitment to showcasing creative ideas via WePresent, the editorial arm of WeTransfer. In this role, Tiffany builds out WePresent's music strategy and oversees projects from emerging young talent to renowned artists. In her time at the brand, she has played a key role in digital marketing initiatives such as A Message From Earth and Mr. Wash.

Guest Speaker (Wednesday):

Sydnye White

Senior Director, Content & Storytelling, Special Olympics

Sydnye White is the Senior Director of Content and Storytelling at Special Olympics International. As a national Emmy-nominated documentary and factual television producer, she has spearheaded, created and overseen thousands of hours of programming distributed on such networks as Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, National Geographic, BET, TV One, and PBS Stations. At Special Olympics International, she develops and executes compelling content and storytelling strategy, executive produces and manages original videos, social, web and print projects.

Guest Speaker (Wednesday):

Ben Proudfoot

CEO & Founder, Breakwater Studios

31-year-old Academy Award® winning director and Forbes 30 Under 30 entrepreneur Ben Proudfoot is the founder and creative force behind Breakwater Studios.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

11 AM - July 12th and 13th

Sundance Rehearsal Hall A

DEI initiatives are being enacted by brands all over the country. DEI is driving an overall focus on not only the types of stories being explored but also who is behind the scenes telling them. How can brands use internal DEI initiatives to drive external content practices? How can brands ensure equitable representation at all levels of the process and related projects? Featuring speakers Justin Polk (Co-Founder, Director, Invisible Collective) and Jon-Thomas Royston (Co-Founder, CEO, Never Whisper Justice), this workshop moderated by Marc Battaglia will examine how to turn accountability into action that yields results that resonate with target audiences.

Workshop Producer:

Marc Battaglia


Story + Strategy Co-Founder Marc Battaglia has 20+ years as a global creative executive, including serving as former Global Executive Creative Director for Marriott International and VP Creative for Remedy, an EMMY® winning branded entertainment studio. Accolades include numerous National PROMAX, CLIO, Shorty, ADDY, Webby, Emmy®, Telly, TVA & BizTech Awards. Marc’s expertise in brand entertainment and executive leadership aid him in his mission to achieve the delivery of brand value through authentic storytelling.

Guest Speaker:

Justin Polk

Co-Founder, Invisible Collective, Three's A Crowd

Justin Polk is a co-founder and director at Invisible Collective, an innovative and disruptive creative production company based in Los Angeles. Justin started Invisible with the mission to make authentic and dynamic content, reflect the American and global experience, and provide opportunities behind the camera for creatives in underrepresented communities. He is also a co-founder of Three’s a Crowd, a community of Black creative professionals empowering one another and the next generation of Black creative leaders.

Guest Speaker:

Jon-Thomas Royston

Founder & CEO, Never Whisper Justice

Jon-Thomas Royston is the Co-Founder and CEO of Never Whisper Justice, a media company fusing bold storytelling with concrete social impact. Royston oversees production, operations, and impact. His first feature length documentary “BLACK BOYS” is available now on NBC Peacock. The impact portion of the film is integrated with Frontlines of Justice - an online, video-centric eLearning platform designed to create social, racial, and educational justice through compelling content and curriculum.

Brands in the Metaverse

11 AM - July 12th and 13th

Sundance Rehearsal Hall B

The Metaverse… we’re starting to learn what it is, but it’s still early days for brand involvement. What avenues exist to break into the Metaverse? What can brands do to enter the space safely, thoughtfully, and successfully? What is the best way to develop a sustainable, durable vision for a brand’s future in the Metaverse? This workshop will explore the world of web 3.0, including everything from further defining the Metaverse, studying best-in-class examples of Metaverse brand activations, unlocking the power of NFT’s and more.

Workshop Leader:

Meagan Loyst

Investor, Lerer Hippeau

Founder, Gen Z VCs

Meagan Loyst is an Investor at Lerer Hippeau, the most active venture capital firm in NY, where she focuses on seed stage investing. Meagan is also the Founder of Gen Z VCs, the largest and fastest growing community for Gen Zers in Tech and VC with 15,000+ Gen Z investors, founders, angels, and aspiring VCs. She is an avid trendwatcher and commenter on the business of Web3 and Web3.0 (see her Metaverse: 101 Breakdown and Bloomberg TV Interview). Meagan was featured in the latest Forbes 30 Under 30 list, is a 2022 LinkedIn Top Voice & received the NVCA's Rising Star Award for 2022. She is also on the Advisory Board of Girls Who Invest and is passionate about increasing diversity in VC & Asset Management.

Workshop Producer:

Ty Braswell

Founder, Creative Digital Strategies

Ty Braswell is a creative digital strategist with a passion for bringing together creatives, tech innovators and business development executives to collaborate in a cohesive environment that creates vanguard innovative products and cutting-edge campaigns. His company Creative Digital Strategies is a consulting resource, providing strategic expertise in digital engagement, management of branded content partnerships, business development, corporate sponsorships, digital content creation, and mobile marketing.



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