We were in Chicago last week for the ANA Brand Activation Conference. The conference showcased companies in a variety of industries who are strategically driving business results through brand activations, including large consumer brands like American Express, Frito-Lay, Kraft-Heinz and more. We even got to see a special musical performance from Allen Stone, a Billboard "artist to watch," at the REGGIE Awards Gala — click here to download his artist profile from the MAX Platform.
We always come away from ANA events inspired; here are just a few of the sessions we loved:
Sessions that Sparked our Interest
ACTIVATING NEW PLATFORMS AND PROGRAMS TO DRIVE GROWTH Presented By: Rich Lehrfield, SVP of Global Communications, Media and Experiences, American Express
What We Loved: In a transactional world, American Express goes above and beyond the transaction to build relationships with their customers. Their global positioning - Powerful Backing - is more than just an ad campaign, it is the guiding principle of the company. Rich shared how they have combined long-term programs like Small Business Saturday with experiential marketing like the Amex Music App and campaigns like "Outside In" which gives fans an immersive mixed reality experience with Justin Timberlake's new album Man of the Woods to build relationships with their customers.
TURNING BRAND LOVE INTO BRAND GOLD Presented By: Rachel Ferdinando, Vice President of Core Business, Media and Digital, Frito-Lay What We Loved:Frito-Lay has built iconic chip brands - like Cheetos, Doritos, and Lays - that customers have loved for decades. Their strategy is to find ways to leverage organic consumer behavior, turning brand love into authentic campaigns that encourage fans to interact with the brand in a fun, shareable way. Rachel shared how they took an Instagram trend of sharing Cheetos that look like other things and turned it into a REGGIE award-winning activation with a full-blown Cheetos Museum and a user-submission contest that generated over 127,000 Cheeto submissions.
MOD PIZZA - THE STORY OF THE NATION'S FASTEST GROWING PIZZA PLACE (THAT ISN'T REALLY A PIZZA PLACE) Presented By: Tracy Cloffi, Chief Marketing Officer, MOD Pizza What We Loved:MOD Pizza is not just a pizza place; it is a platform for good - creating positive change in the lives of their employees and the communities they serve. Tracy shared that everything they do from t-shirts to marketing campaigns starts with the "MOD Squad," their employees. This strategy is based on the idea that if they take care of their employees, they will take care of their customers. Their people-first strategy is clearly working - they have opened over 300 stores across the U.S. and U.K. since 2008 - proving that businesses can and should be a force for good.
RE-IMAGINING THE BRAND EXPERIENCE Presented By: Jennifer Tracy, SVP of Partner Marketing and Creative Advertising, Nickelodeon What We Loved:Nickelodeon now has a team dedicated to experiential marketing; their goal is to implement campaigns that bring excitement and entertainment to their fans - making the world a more playful place. Nickelodeon is launching SlimeFest, a multi-day music festival aimed at kids and families, this summer in Chicago. SlimeFest is one of many in-person fan experiences that Nickelodeon has launched, the strategy comes from internal research that kids and parents are actively seeking more events to participate in together.
GOING TO GREAT "LENGTHS" TO GET A BETTER DOG IN PEOPLE'S HANDS Presented By: Greg Guidotti, Head of Marketing, Oscar Mayer The Kraft Heinz Company What We Loved: Oscar Mayer removed nitrates and artificial preservatives from its entire line of hot dogs, a recipe revamp that took just over a year to perfect. After the recipe change, it was time to get the word out; Greg shared with us that their goal was to get a better dog in people's hands. They commissioned the "Weinerfleet," a fleet of six Wienermobile vehicles, to hit the road on a summer tour. The new fleet featured the iconic Weinermobile and introduced new fleet members - the WeinerCycle, the WeinerDrone, and the WeinerRover... all for the love of hot dogs!
A Night of Celebration + Musician Allen Stone’s Stellar Performance
We attended the 35th annual REGGIE Awards Gala Dinner, where the ANA recognized the best of the best in Brand Activation. ANA presented the coveted golden cash register award across 24 different categories. 19 Crimes, the first wine brand to bring augmented reality to wine labels, was awarded the Super REGGIE. Their campaign featured an augmented reality app - Living Wine Label - that animates wine labels and brings bottles to life. The app has been downloaded over a million times and has driven consumer, retailer, and distributor engagement for the brand.
The evening included a special musical performance from Allen Stone, a soul artist who has been compared to the likes Stevie Wonder and Justin Timberlake. With over 350,000 monthly streams on Spotify, it's no surprise that Allen was named a Billboard "artist to watch."
Allen Stone wowed the crowd with his soulful voice and quirky personality, giving the audience something to groove and sing along to. He was featured as a celebrity mentor on this season of American Idol and recently performed his song "Unaware" with contestant Dennis Lorenzo for the Top 24 All-Star Duets. He also stepped up last minute to perform "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye with another contestant, Marcio Donaldson, the following week. Allen Stone is currently on tour with Andrew McMahon and will release a new album later this year alongside his headline tour.
Music Audience Exchange (MAX) was founded in 2014 with a mission to help champion incredible music and the artists who make it through strategic, data-driven partnerships with brands. MAX brings brands into the music promotional space in a way that puts engaging content into the world through a value-exchange model that drives the brand’s objectives and elevates breakthrough bands along the way. If you’d like to learn more about Music Audience Exchange and what a music promotion program would look like for your brand, send us a note.