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BrandStorytelling Does SXSW with Speakeasy Activation

by Jordan P. Kelley, Content Director, BrandStorytelling

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The BrandStorytelling Speakeasy at SXSW brought together industry luminaries and innovators for two days of immersive discussions, revealing insights, and memorable experiences. Hosted against the backdrop of SXSW, the event was a celebration of the power of innovation in non-interruptive advertising, storytelling, and content creation, featuring panels, presentations, and parties that sparked creativity and garnered community engagement.


Day one kicked off with a series of compelling panels:

Revolutionizing the Measurement of Branded Funded Entertainment 

Meg Wells, Fractional Chief Content Officer, Jessica Wolfson, Executive Producer at Indeed Creative, Kevin Keane, Founder of Brainsights, Matt Mise, Head of Pacific Content at Rogers Sports and Media, and Andy Cooper, Founder of One Minute To Midnight, discussed the evolution of branded content measurement, emphasizing the importance of authentic engagement and meaningful impact in modern storytelling.


Everything’s Bigger in Audio 

Matt Mise, Head of Pacific Content at Rogers Sports and Media, with support from Sounds Profitable, led a deep dive into the world of podcasting, exploring the growing influence of audio storytelling in brand communication and audience engagement.


We are Not a Monolith: How Brands Can Resonate with Black Consumers with Authenticity, Not Appropriation

Dr. Patrice Le Goy, Randi Matthews, CEO and Founder of Multi-Hyphen Media, and LaToya Christian, Managing Partner, Executive Director of Inclusive Strategy at GroupM, discussed the importance of authentic representation and cultural resonance in brand messaging, emphasizing the diversity and nuance within Black audiences.


The Purpose is Not the Product: Centering Stories on Impact 

Nina Van Brunt, Founder and Global Head of Mission Studio Condé Nast, and Jill Topf, Manager of Creative Content & Brand at Ronald McDonald House Charities, explored the power of purpose-driven storytelling, showcasing how brands can create meaningful connections by focusing on the impact of their actions.


How Toys”R”Us is using AI to Engage its Dynamic Audience

Kim Miller, CMO and President of Toys“R”Us Studios, and Nik Kleverov, CCO of Native Foreign, unveiled the innovative use of new Sora AI technology in brand storytelling, offering a glimpse into the future of digital creativity and audience engagement.


Lizards, Legends & Laughs: How GEICO Evolved The Way They Entertain 

Michelle Moscone, VP of Brand Creative & Content at GEICO, Ryan Raab, Creative Director at Martin, and David Shafei, Director & Co-Founder of World War Seven, shared the behind-the-scenes magic of GEICO’s lizard mockumentary, showcasing the power of humor and creativity in brand communication.

#UnInterrupted: Making your brand part of the story. Not an interruption. 

Cory Treffiletti, Chief Marketing and Digital Officer at Rembrand, delved into the future of advertising, highlighting the emergence of AI-driven product placement as a seamless and non-intrusive form of brand integration.


Rethinking Brand Storytelling: Indeed Rising Voices 

Jessica Wolfson, Executive Producer at Indeed Creative, and Doménica Castro, Executive Producer at 271 Films, introduced Indeed’s Rising Voices initiative, showcasing how brands can empower filmmakers to create impactful narratives that embody brand values.


Day two included thought-provoking panels and engaging discussions that explored the latest trends and strategies in brand storytelling, from 3D engagement to social media risks and iconic brand revivals, the second day featured a diverse range of topics and perspectives:


The White House - More Like Your Brand Than You Think

Christian Tom, Director of Digital Strategy at The White House, provided a unique perspective on building awareness for the administration's agenda, values, and mission in the digital age. In a three-part format, including a presentation, fireside chat, and Q&A session moderated by John McCarus, Founder/President of Content Ink, Tom outlined the challenges and progress of leveraging new digital channels to reach critical niche audiences.


The Value of Story-Driven Product Design

Brooks Thomas, President & CMO of HELM Boots, highlighted the convergence of footwear design and storytelling, showcasing how product innovation can be infused with narrative elements to fuel brand loyalty and create unique consumer experiences.


MAMMAL: The Importance of Design and Animation in Storytelling and Filmmaking

Robert Burroughs, Founder/ECD/Principal of MAMMAL, shared insights into the role of design and animation in storytelling, drawing from his experience collaborating with NBC News Studios and Castlepix on the Emmy-nominated documentary "To End All War: Oppenheimer and The Atomic Bomb."


Connecting with Gen Z Latinos through La Cultura

Cat Gallego, Sr. Director of Social Strategy at TelevisaUnivision, led a discussion on the importance of acknowledging Hispanic heritage and experience in brand messaging. Joined by creators Franchela Ulises and Sol Carlos, the panel explored TelevisaUnivision's creator content strategy and its impact on engaging Hispanic America.

The Business of MrBeast

Marc Hustvedt, President of MrBeast, sat down with BrandStorytelling's own Jordan Kelley to discuss the three pillars that make up prolific YouTuber Jimmy Donaldson's business and brand: content, consumer packaged goods, and philanthropy.


90’s Nostalgia, Eight Flavors and a Timeloop: The Making of Groundhog Lay’s

Key creatives and executives from Lay’s, Disney Advertising, Maximum Effort, and Kimmelot shared the story behind the innovative Groundhog Lay’s campaign. From tongue-in-cheek storytelling to a daylong ad takeover, the panelists showcased how a campaign 30 years in the making came together in less than two weeks.


Marketing in the Age of 3D Engagement

Matt Edelman, President and Chief Commercial Officer of Super League, delved into the boundless possibilities for brands in open gaming worlds, offering insights into creating captivating 3D content that drives engagement and fosters immersive brand experiences.


Big Swings: How Major Brands Take Risks on Social Media

Kelley Myers, Head of Social Media for Consumer Brands at Microsoft, Gabe Gordon, CEO and Co-Founder of Reach Agency, and Monica Earle, Senior PR & Brand Communications Manager at Duolingo, discussed the balance between brand safety and creativity in social media marketing. The panel offered insights into making bold choices to capture attention and stir engagement while staying true to brand identity and values.


Breathing New Life into an Iconic Brand: The Story Behind Armadillo World 2.0

Marcus Peterzell, CEO of Passion Point Collective, Stephen Marshall, CMO of Armadillo World, Megan Lindon, Senior Director of Brand & Merchandise at Austin FC, and Andy Langer, Host of Austin City Limits Radio, shared the journey of reviving Austin's own iconic Armadillo brand. From collaborations with Austin FC to documentary films, the panel offered a sneak peek into the brand's renaissance.

The group from Armadillo World along with Helm Boots closed out the event with an evening of live music that capped off an excellent two days at SXSW.


The BrandStorytelling Speakeasy offered attendees a unique opportunity to gain insights from industry leaders, exchange ideas, and explore the latest trends shaping the future of brand storytelling. As BrandStorytelling continues to build community and inspire creativity, it reaffirms the pivotal role of storytelling in fostering meaningful connections between brands and audiences.


Visit to learn more about BrandStorytelling events.  Subscribe to the BrandStorytelling YouTube Channel and Newsletter to gain more insights into the future of non-interruptive advertising.


About Brand Storytelling:

Brand Storytelling is a privately-owned organization with the mission to support, educate and inspire brand-funded content. Brand Storytelling hosts events focused on bringing together a community of brands, directors, agencies, content studios and platforms to celebrate innovative content approaches and inspire the next generation of brand storytellers.


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