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Get to Know Story + Strategy Ahead of Elevate 2022

Jordan P. Kelley, Content Director, Brand Storytelling

Today’s agencies, brands, and studios want real brand experience, real creativity, and real storytelling. These are the tenets we seek to uphold at Elevate, which is why this year we’ve partnered with Story + Strategy to do just that. We’re privileged to be able to leverage Shawn Brain’s experience as a strategic and creative marketing leader and Marc Battaglia’s prowess as a long-time global creative executive to get to the heart of brand storytellers’ needs in this space. We recently caught up with Shawn and Marc to discuss their thoughts and feelings ahead of Elevate 2022:

Where does your passion for Story + Strategy come from?

We are risk takers and innovators by nature. We met while working together in Marriott’s Content Studio where we were always looking to find new, better and different ways to tell emotive and breakthrough stories across the company’s 30 brands.

Story + Strategy was born from a gap we saw in the market: brands with incredible stories to tell – some you’ve heard of and some you haven’t – who just didn’t know where to start when it comes to brand storytelling. Our passion lies in helping these brands identify the ownable insights off which to build compelling stories and then bringing these stories to life in a really powerful way, tapping into our network of incredible directors, editorial writers and podcast producers. What’s more, it’s incredibly rewarding (and admittedly sometimes a little scary!) to wake up every morning and know that we’re building and creating something wholly new – the potential for Story + Strategy is limitless and that’s super exciting.

How are you lending your expertise to the curation of Elevate 2022?

The work that we’re doing with Elevate is actually very similar to what we do with our brand partners. When working with brands, we call it our “Discovery Phase” but really, it’s where we dig in to learn as much as we can about the brand, target audience, industry, etc. all in an effort to pull out meaningful insights off which to build an overall strategy and framework.

With nearly 30+ brand interviews conducted already for Elevate, we’re looking for common themes and insights to help inform breakout session topics, ensuring they are value-driven and grounded in what’s most important to attendees. We’re trying to dig deeper than broad or expected subject areas to ensure we’re igniting meaningful conversations that are relevant for today’s realities and unique brand challenges.

What are you hearing from brands in terms of common themes and pain points surrounding brand storytelling?

Thanks to the openness and candor of the brands, we’ve had some really thoughtful and rich conversations. Many of the brand pain points are life stage dependent, with some brands very early in the storytelling process and others further along. And while we’re still having conversations, some of the common themes that have emerged thus far include:

New Channel Exploration & Innovation – Not unsurprisingly, there are a lot of questions and interest in the metaverse and all things web 3.0, including how brands participate in a meaningful but brand-safe way. What’s most interesting is, beyond the commercialization topics, there are also questions on societal themes such as access and equity.

Cultural Conversations: Diversity, Inclusion & Sustainability – These topics have been consistent through lines with discussion of representation throughout the workflow, including in front of and behind the camera. Sustainability has also been a common thread from production to brand comms.

Distribution & Scale – Always top-of-mind is a desire to learn more about unique deal structures, non-traditional distribution and partnership opportunities, and the growing importance of Gen Z and their media consumption behaviors.

Team Structure – There’s been a lot of movement in the market with people in the community taking on new roles, new companies and new orgs. So how should brands approach creating best-in-class organizational structures, inclusive of not only creative but also legal, business affairs, etc. and learning from how other brands are approaching.

What outcomes are you hoping to achieve during Elevate?

Our goal is to make Elevate as engaging, informative and inspirational as possible. Our setting at Sundance Mountain Resort, which is steeped in heritage as the birthplace of storytelling, provides a natural backdrop for inspiration and lively, forward-focused discussion. At the end of the day, we want every brand and brand partner attendee to feel like they’ve rebooted their storytelling mind; we want them to leave more inspired, better educated, and with a new network of friends and colleagues with whom to continue the conversations that they started at Elevate.

Learn more about Story + Strategy - visit their website


About Shawn Brain

14+ years experience as a strategic and creative marketing leader focused on brand strategy, communications, and integrated marketing. A consistent high-performer with a proven ability to uncover powerful insights that drive brand strategy and sales growth.

Past experience includes leading marketing strategy and communications for global Fortune 500 brands including Marriott International’s Global Content Studio, The Ritz-Carlton, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts and Nestle Purina. Currently serves as adjunct instructor in marketing at The Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School and marketing advisor for Foodiena, a global food tech start-up.

About Marc Battaglia

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.

Featured speaker at SXSW, Promax, Collision, Brand Film Festival, RampUp, NATPE, NAB, Johns Hopkins University and serves on the advisory board for Brand Storytelling and ed-tech start-up, Emporia.


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