AndNowUKnow Goes Behind the Curtain of United Fresh's Fourth Annual BrandStorm
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - “We need to change what people think and feel.” While Valda Coryat, Director of Marketing for the National Mango Board (NMB), was addressing the NMB’s journey to revitalizing its brand’s story, this sentiment carried over across the entirety of this year’s BrandStorm™. The fourth annual United Fresh event was very much a three-day process of marketers locking arms with each other for the greater purpose of growing together as an industry and as individuals, and I, despite being a marketing newbie, felt as if I had not only glimpsed where marketing is headed, but just what the produce industry’s best and brightest are putting forth to keep fruit and veg a major contender in foodservice, retail, and beyond.
While we use the phrase “peeking behind the curtain” a lot at ANUK, the intimacy of BrandStorm 2019 truly felt like a peek behind the curtain—and I almost don’t want to share what secrets I had the privilege of uncovering…almost!
“This year’s BrandStorm has been full of energy! Our speakers brought their A-game and did an excellent job keeping the audience engaged and interacting with new and familiar peers," Mary Coppola, Vice President, Marketing Communications, for United Fresh, said to me. "We’ve covered a lot of content that has motivated attendees to get back to the office to start implementing new ideas and strategies that will advance their brand marketing initiatives.”
Whether your first day of BrandStorm was Wednesday’s tour of Viansa Sonoma or Thursday’s opening keynote session with Tamsen Webster, the event kicked off with a bang.
“This year’s tour on Wednesday was exceptional," Mary continued. "Hosted at the picturesque Viansa Sonoma vineyard by brothers Jon and Chris Sebastiani, attendees learned about the many brands Jon and his company, Sonoma Brands, have created, invested in, and driven to market on impressive time tables with success.”
Church Brothers Farms’ Vice President of Marketing & Product Development Kori Tuggle had the pleasure of attending both the tour and the keynote.
“I attended the tour, which was fantastic. It was great to see what’s happening with branding outside of produce. As for Tamsen Webster, she was fantastic, too!” Kori shared with me. “With each BrandStorm, we learn more. It’s nice to see this tradition grow for our marketing community.”
Following the keynote session, this year’s attendees—which included over 270 industry marketers—dispersed to take notes during some hard-hitting breakout sessions. Ed Hoffman, Padilla Food and Beverage Practice’s Senior Vice President, introduced foodservice as the next produce marketing frontier and challenged the marketers in attendance to remember that while produce continues to top menu trends, there is always work to be done and consumer preferences to keep in mind to maintain its place. Jennifer Tillman, Insight Specialist with Sonoco, then walked attendees through packaging faux pas as a means of emphasizing the best ways to grab shoppers’ attention in a split second. Valda Coryat teamed up with Weber Shandwick’s Chief Food and Nutrition Strategist Janet Helm to highlight key strategies produce marketing can utilize to stand out in an ever-growing crowd, emphasizing values, culture, and emotional connection as ways to wield brands’ unique stories.
“Produce marketing is a challenging, unique, and exciting sector within our industry and BrandStorm provides attendees the opportunity to collaborate and engage in a way not possible at any other industry event!” Julianna St. Geme, Associate Marketing Manager for Mission Produce, told me after a day of breakout sessions.
While the breakout sessions left me dizzy with knowledge—I seriously condensed all that I learned in that last paragraph, believe it or not!—it was the X-Change Sessions that I think were where the money was, so to speak. The X-Change Sessions opened the floor up to attendees to ask questions and engage in dialogue with each other, proving that while produce is only as strong as its weakest link, the community our industry has in place doesn’t allow weak links to remain that way for long. The sessions were led by DMA’s MacKenzie Wortham, T&G Global’s Brock Nemecek, Moxxy Marketing’s Karen Nardozza, Mann Packing’s Kim St George, Duda Farm Fresh Foods’ Elena Hernandez, and more!
“I think the energy level at this year’s conference has really stood out to me as something special,” MacKenzie Wortham, Account Director for DMA Solutions, shared with me. “United has done a great job creating an atmosphere where we feel encouraged and comfortable to interact with each other to gain ideas and inspiration. It’s a great setting to relax and get to know our fellow produce marketers with fewer distractions that we may feel at a larger trade show event.”
The last day of the event concluded with a few experts, like Pure Flavor’s Chief Marketing Officer Chris Veillon outlining the recipe for a successful marketing campaign and Avocados From Mexico’s President Alvaro Luque detailing how to get in front of the world during one of the biggest events of the year: the Super Bowl.
For more in conference and expo updates, stay tuned to AndNowUKnow.