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Inside United Fresh's 2016 BrandStorm

Inside United Fresh's 2016 BrandStorm



SAN FRANCISCO, CA - With the inventive hub and thriving streets of San Francisco set as its backdrop, BrandStorm has closed its second annual gathering and secured its place as a must-attend event for industry marketers. Challenging, productive, and exhilarating, here are some moments that inspired me as I went through the whirlwind two days exploring fresh produce brand success.

As Mary Coppola, Senior Director of Marketing Communications at United Fresh, told the gathered group of anticipatory marketers during the opening remarks, this year's BrandStorm 2016 was an extensive opportunity to focus on the "intangibles" of the field. By exploring word of mouth marketing concepts, lasting identities, and brand ambassadors, United Fresh cultivated the event to uplift over 100 fresh produce companies and their brands, as well as the industry as a whole. 

Mark Munger, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, 4Earth Farms

“This second annual BrandStorm Conference once again proved the power and creativity when marketers gather together! The program was content rich and cutting edge, and I think we are all going home more motivated, inspired, and intelligent,” Mark Munger, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at 4Earth Farms, told me after two days filled with speakers, workshops, and interactive projects. 

Brian Wong discussing consumer engagement and brand success at BrandStorm 2016

Kicking off Day 1, the industry was treated to an opening session with Brian Wong, CEO and Co-founder of mobile advertising network Kiip. With a flash of humor and eye fixed on advertising trends, Brian talked us through focusing on the four steps to establish an effective brand identity; innovation, the people, the industry, and yourself. A story infused with produce is a lasting concept that we all took home, as consumers soon will also. 

Ted Wright giving an enigmatic rundown of how powerful word of mouth marketing can be, BrandStorm 2016

The day’s second session was led by the enigmatic Ted Wright, CEO of global word of mouth marketing company Fizz. Ted illuminated attendees as to the strength consumers find in word of mouth marketing, and with stats like 19% of consumer brand choice coming from recommendation, he held the crowd in fascinated attention with his advice on staying authentic in your brand story, and starting the conversation with consumers.

Gabriela D’Arrigo, Director of Marketing & Buyer for Organic Produce, D’Arrigo Brothers of New York"It's exciting to attend a conference where I'm able to collaborate with individuals from other industries and gain different insights as to non-traditional forms of marketing," Gabriela D’Arrigo, Director of Marketing and Buyer for Organic Produce at D’Arrigo Brothers of New York, told me of the lasting and fresh impression left on her by BrandStorm.

The retail panel of (from right to left) Suzy Monford, Alfonso Cano, and Adam Bazarnik discussing brand trends on the buy-side, BrandStorm 2016

Tuesday led off with a marketing-packed bang with a panel of retailers who shared tips and insights as to what grabs the attention of their consumers. Consisting of Nugget Markets’ Director of Produce Adam Bazarnik, Northgate Gonzalez’s Director of Produce Alfonso Cano, and Andronico’s CEO Suzy Monford. With each retailer placing fresh at the top of their lists, attendees were treated with an inside at the produce department from the buy-side point of view. 

From there, marketers were led into a series of three workshops focusing on the issues and options which are congruent with developing a brand identity. Wittily given the option between “green” and “seasoned” sessions, attendees could choose each workshop based on whether they were new or old to the marketing game, or whichever workshop piqued their interest. The list, and noted guest speakers, were as follows: 

  • Consumer Workshop, Green: Influencing the Influencers, led by Kale & Caramel Founder Lily Diamond
  • Consumer Workshop, Seasoned: Foodservice Trends Straight off the Menu, led by Duda Farm Fresh Foods Brand Ambassador and Corporate Chef Todd Fisher
  • Communication Strategies, Green: Social Media Strategy led by Tatu Digital Media CEO Janet Fouts
  • Communication Strategies, Seasoned: Managing Your Brand Reputation, led by The Caliber Group CEO Linda Welter
  • Branding and Packaging, Green: Fresh Ideas, led by Hatch San Francisco Director of Client Services Kat Karpati, and Co-Founder/Creative Director Joel Templin
  • Branding and Packaging, Seasoned: Building a Brand Strategy for Success, led by Freytag Group Founder and Principle, Leslie Freytag


Mary Coppola, Senior Director of Marketing Communications, United Fresh Association"BrandStorm 2016 was a success by all measures. We gathered more than 100 companies and over 180 attendees for two days of energized speakers, inspired case studies, and networking events. We're very pleased with the overall feedback we're receiving, and looking forward to continuing the tradition of BrandStorm in 2017," Mary Coppola divulged to me, pinpointing the event’s reach into the marketing heart of our industry.

Marc Pomerlau getting down into the crowd for his Q&A portion, BrandStorm 2016

A well-earned lunch was rounded out by the insights of Marc Pomerleau, Global Strategy Vice President at brand agency FreemanXP. Giving marketers the inside scoop on how to be adaptable in their brands, and truly engaging the consumer in a lasting way, Marc touched on the key elements of science, technology, environment, and people as a pattern for success.

Throughout each General Session and Workshop, United Fresh had something new and refreshing to offer BrandStormers; an interactive case study. As we all split into groups, marketers from each company delved into prospective marketing challenges for new brands and social media angles, collaborating as peers and accomplished professionals to achieve the perfect marketing plan. And, as the event went on, it was interesting to see how each plan shifted and streamlined after new information was gained from the workshops and general sessions provided by BrandStorm. 

Alexandra Watkins taking the crowd through effective and ineffective brand names on the journey to success, BrandStorm 2016

The two days of marketing, creativity, and new concept consideration was brought to end with Alexandra Watkins, Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of brand naming and consulting agency Eat My Words. Among many insightful tidbits and examples, Alexandra drove home that a good brand name makes consumers want to S.M.I.L.E., with a moniker that is suggestive, meaningful, has imagery, legs (to expand), and emotion. 

From exploring the most effective marketing concepts, to analyzing the best way to tap in on influencers to secure a lasting brand, BrandStorm 2016 was an indisputable success. As new and old friends and partners in the marketing field celebrated an inspiring congregation of some of the best in our industry, I was left feeling awed by the talent and keen minds of our fresh produce marketers, and titillated at the brand innovations sure to come. See you next year, BrandStorm! 

Keep close with AndNowUKnow as we provide you more BrandStorm coverage in the coming days.

United Fresh's BrandStorm



Companies in this Story


United Fresh Produce Association

United Fresh Produce Association is the industry's leading trade association committed to driving the growth and success...