Skip to content
Maria Moilanen11/9/18 7:04 AM5 min read

Brand Marketing Summit 2018: 'Marketing is Dead: Engagement is Alive'

For this year's Brand Marketing Summit, the Incite Group made the bold statement "Marketing is Dead: Engagement is Alive." We were privileged to catch some great talks from leaders in marketing for some of the world's biggest brands during the summit. Read on for the most inspiring takeaways of the conference, curated by our Customer Success Lead, Maria Moilanen!

The Marketing Trifecta: Content, Purpose, Action by Jill Cress, Chief Marketing Officer, National Geographic

This was an insightful talk especially as I've been a massive fan of National Geographic since my childhood. Who doesn't remember those exciting wildlife documentaries on television or flipping through stacks of magazines filled with incredible images?


As the CMO of National Geographic (the #1 brand on Instagram with 93.6 million followers), Jill Cress shared how important it was for them to know what's on the hearts and minds of consumers.

"We now get bombarded with so much content that anything not immediately relevant, authentic or interesting gets quickly ignored or pushed aside. But I think this new “era of distraction” has created an exciting challenge for today’s marketers – and it’s one that’s forcing us to really understand our audiences, their motivations and their preferences at a core level."

Jill shared about how National Geographic turned to Facebook Messenger and virtual reality to captivate audiences and drum up exciting for two of their new series, "Genius" and "One Strange Rock". 

For "Genius", the company created Genius Bot, a Facebook Messenger app that connected audiences directly with the show’s main character – Albert Einstein - and allowed people to chat directly with "Einstein". To promote the series “One Strange Rock,” National Geographic created the first-ever Astronaut Reality Helmet giving viewers a brand new perspective of earth, without ever having to leave New York.

Cress also emphasized how listening to consumers was crucial, in order to understand what will resonate and move the needle:

"From a media and content consumption standpoint, fluffy no longer cuts it – people are demanding harder-hitting news. And with this change, consumers also look to align themselves with brands that confidently take stands on societal issues. Brand marketers must do more than sell products, experiences and lifestyles; they must insert themselves into conversations on larger topical issues to remain relevant and respectable to today’s consumer."

Putting Fans at the Center by Molly Battin, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Communications and Corporate Marketing Officer, Turner Broadcasting

One key takeaway from this talk was how at Turner Broadcasting (owner of CNN, TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, and others) uses the term "fans" instead of "viewers".

"...we are on a mission to Reimagine TV and disrupt our industry by turning viewers into highly engaged, loyal and unapologetic fans of the content we create and the deeply personal experiences we provide. As marketers, it is our job to break through the clutter and constantly surprise and delight our fans at every interaction."

In her talk, Molly Battin shared about how the company's main marketing goal across all brands at Turner is to develop and execute fan-centric campaigns. They do that by relying on data and analytics more than ever before, capturing data at every point and infusing it into decision-making.

At the same time, it is important for them to balance SCIENCE with ART and MATH with MAGIC. They consider themselves "data-informed" rather than "data-driven", as world-class creative is still crucial to entertain and delight fans. 

"Put the fan at the center of everything you do. Listen to them.
Create experiences for them where they can engage with your brands and interact with other fans. They are more loyal, more willing to sample new content, more willing to spend time and money to interact with their favorite content across a variety of touchpoints and they become your biggest marketing asset – evangelists for your brands."


The Intersection of Innovation and Marketing in the Insurance Industry by Terrance Williams, Chief Marketing Officer and President of Emerging Businesses, Nationwide

My key insight from this talk by Terrance Williams was the focus that Nationwide has on creating better processes to make life easier for customers. 

"It’s about meeting consumers where they are and providing them with something of value. If we seek to make the “right” impression and move consumers further down the path to purchase, we need to show up in the correct environmental space with something meaningful to them."

Hearing what Nationwide is doing in terms of new ways of marketing to customers was exciting, especially as the insurance and financial services industry is ripe for disruption. 

The talk finished on a high with the exclamation that Nationwide will "bring sexy back to insurance." We look forward to seeing this in action!

Striking the Balance Between Organic & Paid Content Marketing by James Gregson, Senior Global Social Media Manager, LEGO

My key takeaway from this talk by James Gregson was how focused LEGO is on ensuring that the company's global content, be it organic or paid, aligns with the brand mission "to inspire builders of tomorrow". LEGO focuses on a global mindset and adapting to digital disruption. 

"From a LEGO social media stand point what we really try and do is being comfortable that we are okay with removing content when it doesn't perform. If we publish an asset and it isn't performing we have no problem with removing it and we will do so within 5-10 minutes of it being live. It's not something we do often. Understanding the value of the world of organic reach and the idea of channel health we feel really confident that we need to be empowered as a publishing team to only share the best content.  We will be the first ones to raise our hand and say "We thought this content would perform and it didn't" and we will change, republish, edit it or not publish it at all."

LEGO feels that it needs to be very reactive and responsive. Impressively, within 2-3 hours of the Ellen tweet about the blue and black dress going viral, they posted a piece of content referencing the meme that was reactive, responsive and relevant, taking a fun, playful standpoint.

When combating the challenge of organic reach, relevancy and timeliness of content is paramount to LEGO's content strategy. LEGO delivered some of the most fun content examples of the summit and clearly has succeeded in being reactive and responsive. 

We hope you found some of these takeaways as inspiring as we did! On the other side of the world, our Lisbon local #brandbastioneer Carina Miranda writes about her takeaways from Web Summit Lisbon here.

Subscribe to our monthly round-up 💌

  • Latest social media news,  trends, and access to exclusive resources
  • Hear from other brands and learn from their stories and experiences
  • Be the first to know about new BrandBastion updates
  • Prepare for upcoming holidays with post ideas and real brand examples