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Announcing the 2021 Brand Storytelling Honor Roll

Jordan Kelley, Content Director,

As the prevalence of brand funded content and branded entertainment continue to rise, so too do the challenges and responsibilities of the individuals trusted within brands to pioneer the next great piece of brand-funded content. Navigating these challenges and coming out with content that inspires, educates, and entertains is no easy feat. This past year saw those challenges grow exponentially, as a global pandemic, an election, and a groundswell of discussion around equity and race grew to occupy the global consciousness, putting brands in a position where communicating their own values was paramount. Still – brands innovated, improved representation in their brand content work, connected that work to causes that benefitted people directly, and once again evolved the understanding of what can be achieved with brand-funded content and entertainment.

Brand Storytelling honored a select group of brand marketers during the Brand Storytelling Network, an all-online brand marketing program established in the wake of the pandemic to ensure the continued connectivity and growth of the brand storytelling community. The winners of the 2021 Brand Storytelling Honor Roll were announced by the previous class of winners: Marc Battaglia (formerly of Marriott International), Sarah Colamarino (Johnson & Johnson), Angela Matusik (HP), Kirstin Falk (formerly of Charles Schwab), Paolo Mottola (REI) and Allison Polly (PepsiCo). The following six brand marketers met and exceeded the expectations set by the previous winning class, once again setting an example for ways to work creatively and effectively to drive impact, purpose, brand lift and engagement through the power of story:

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Click the poster to expand

SVP, Head of Brand and Chief Creative Officer

Andrew built the brand and audience marketing function at from scratch over his 8-year tenure at In his last project at, based on conversations that began at Brand Storytelling’s Elevate summer conference, Andrew initiated, developed and produced a multi-episode full-length television series with Tastemade called “Beyond the Block,” which featured 4 sets of first-time homebuyers as they set out to discover why buying a home isn’t just about the four walls that sit on a foundation. The series ran on Tastemade TV, Amazon Prime Video and other streaming services as the country came out of lockdown in the late summer of 2020. The series drove phenomenal success for across both audience growth and brand health metrics.

Johnson & Johnson

VP, Director of the Global Content Lab

Carrie and her team have built an impressive content machine at J&J, no small feat for a global entity with many divisions, especially when a number of them fall within a category like Pharma. But when it came time to follow up on the heralded success of 5B, the global pandemic struck. Rather than look outside the organization for current stories to tell, Carrie and team looked inward, launching “The Road to a Vaccine”. This series provided an inside look into Johnson & Johnson’s path to developing a COVID 19 Vaccine as it unfolded, which was not only a unique play on entertainment-meets-education, but an opportunity to tell a story that was and continues to be meaningful to literally everyone.

United States Postal Service

Executive Director, Brand Marketing

Chris Karpenko was the driving force behind the heartwarming 2020 Christmas documentary, Dear Santa. Serving dual roles as film producer and Executive Director for Brand Marketing at the United States Postal Service, Chris orchestrated the film’s co-marketing efforts, facilitated creative development, helped secure financing, consistently advocated for the project and nurtured the movie’s overall creative direction. As well, Chris was instrumental in ensuring that Dear Santa director, Emmy-winning filmmaker, Dana Nachman, had unprecedented access to the USPS’s legendary 108-year-old Operation Santa program. The outcome was an uplifting and inspiring motion picture that was nationally distributed and critically received – with respected film reviewers like Richard Roeper calling Dear Santa “one of the most wonderful films of the year”.

Mattel, Inc.

Director of Social Media Strategy

Katie spearheaded the direction, development, and strategy for Mattel, Inc. and Barbie's Career of the Year 2020 campaign as part of a collaboration with She Should Run to encourage girls to use their voices to advocate for what matters to them while equipping them with tools to help them get involved and effect change. Katie commissioned the company CakeWorks to create the videos and worked tirelessly to make this pandemic production a resoundingly powerful and impactful achievement as she directed this much-welcomed source of inspiration for young girls with a campaign that dared them to dream. Her leadership ensured the campaign crossed over the finish line with astounding engagement success across Barbie’s social channels and triumphed with an award-winning victory, earning the coveted 2020 Streamys Social Good Award.


Head of Brands & Creative Studio

Last year, Rob Sundy led a team at KitchenAid on a groundbreaking program resulting in the documentary film "A Woman's Place" and the James Beard Foundation Mentorship Program. Spurred by a concerning statistic that despite accounting for half of culinary school graduates, women only hold 7% of executive chef roles, A Woman’s Place was created with the goal of empowering women to bridge the gap as they strive to become leaders in the industry. Rob championed a multi-faceted education and impact program that resulted in the first-ever brand funded film on the homepage of Hulu, while the JBF mentorship program component aided and advocated for Women-led mentees to get the help they need to push past the glass ceiling.

YETI Coolers

Head of Content

Scott Ballew, head of content at Yeti, is quietly amassing an incredible library of Yeti-produced films. Scott and team have managed to employ a variety of filmmakers and creatives from all over the country to execute the vision of a brand film library that, in the collection’s entirety, form a cohesive body of work, telling stories not about product, but about people. The “Yeti Presents” library, in its excellent storytelling, manages to capture the elusive essence of a brand, transcending product and representing a community that shares common ideals and values. A dozen of their most recent films were taken on the road early in 2020 (pre-pandemic), drawing diverse crowds that shared a common appreciation for Yeti’s stories and more importantly what the stories capture: a DIY adventurous lifestyle.


About Jordan Kelley

Jordan Kelley is the Content Director at He's an essayist, editor, and observer intent on mapping new media trends and disseminating the most relevant information in the world of branded content. Jordan is a lover of stories and an avid consumer of new media.


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