Media Insights Breakfast: Brand Love Recap - She Runs It
Event Recaps

Media Insights Breakfast: Brand Love Recap

By She Runs It

By She Runs It Member Sara Haley

Amidst a busy Ad Week in New York City, She Runs It held a media insights breakfast highlighting “Brand Love” on September 28th at the New York Times. She Run’s It brought together a stellar panel of marketing executives from the most successful brands in the industry to discuss leveraging the power of emotions, an area where today’s consumer attention is scarce. Each panelist shared their brand’s unique approach to emotion, one of the most important topics in media right now.

  • Moderator Sapna Maheshwari, Reporter, The New York Times
  • Jasmin Allen, Brand Director & Head of Consumer Marketing & Engagement, Belvedere Vodka
  • Sabrina Caluori, SVP, Digital Media & Marketing, HBO
  • Colin McConnell, SVP, Chief Brand Officer, Prudential Financial
  • Alexandra Weiss, SVP Marketing, Glossier
  • Maria Winans, Chief Marketing Officer, IBM Watson Customer Engagement

The morning immediately started off strong as Karen List of The New York Times opened with an emphasis on the importance of telling your brand’s story well. Storytelling “offers consumers more than just a product or service, but that’s what we call brand love, or emotional connection. It motivates the consumer to step into that experience.”

Lynn Branigan, President and CEO of She Runs It, continued to set the tone of the morning as she reminded us all why She Runs It is here, which is very simple – “We are here to pave the way for more women to lead at every level of marketing and media”.

Nicole Mathews, Head of Communications & Marketing at Teads, worked with She Runs It a few years ago to focus on needs of their female employees and to see how they could do better. Nicole left us with an incredibly empowering quote by Sheryl Sandberg, “In the future there will not be female leaders, there will just be leaders”.

Brand Love Panel Questions

Moderator, Sapna Maheshwari, opened the panel reiterating the excitement around brand love and asked a few questions. Highlights below:

Question #1-  Share an example of how you have used brand love, how you have seen customers connect with your brands in a very emotional way, somewhat recently, or something that stands out in your mind.

Panel Answers:

Colin McConnell (Prudential): We recently did a media campaign called Masterpiece of Love. We are a life insurance company and you can’t talk about that unless we talk about death, and death is hard to talk about it. We did some work recently I think is fabulous and I think we a just scratching the surface of how to leverage it. Masterpiece of Love is a fascinating idea. The Insight behind it is that we as people are bad at grieving, it’s universal. We felt like as a brand, as a life insurance company, we thought about how we can help people grieve and really connect with the people. We went and found people who lost someone and paired them with a local artist in Newark, NJ. Those who were grieving told their stories about the people they lost and the artists captured it and expressed it through all types of artistic styles. We shot documentaries around these moving stories. Artwork captures essence and gave the gift of unique expression to the people grieving. Then we did an exhibit at an art museum and had event around it. Once that social conversation started, we saw how many people wanted to talk about those they lost. Super powerful.

Maria Winans (IBM): Watson is such a powerful tech brand. One thing we started wondering, is how do we connect with practitioners, the marketers, the advertisers, the supply and chain leaders, the doctors?  We came up with “You to the Power of IBM”. What we found was, that Watson is changing the way you work. We found that Watson is helping with big world problems and helping marketers connect with their customers. Rather than leading with technology statement, we are leading with what it is that Watson is helping that practitioner achieve and talking to the challenges that they deal with.

Sabrina Caluori (HBO): We felt like in between season 3 and 4 of Game of Thrones, we needed to engage fans. We came across insight that Joffrey was most hated character, so we kinda flipped the idea of brand love and came up with a digital social roast. It was huge on twitter. Twitter gave fans the tools to express brand love for Game of Thrones by showing their hate for this character.

Jasmin Allen (Belvedere Vodka): Belvedere is a proud partner of The Red Initiative, which helps the mother to child transmition of Aids in South Africa. Last year did a special edition bottle with brilliant South African artist, Ester Molango, and did a full campaign around that partnership. We partnered with the New York Times to create a 3-part series: deep dive into the life ester, how far we have come since the first aids case was announced, and 8-minute videos of two South African artists channeling art to bring awareness to Aids. It was a high impact and an engaging way to connect with people in different ways. We were able to surpass all of our benchmarks in our brand love study and it really helped us moved the needle from the likeability perspective with consumers.

Alexandra Weiss (Glossier): We launched our Body Hero campaign a few weeks ago. It’s a difficult category, but we had an interesting approach. The concept was how everyone is a body hero and to make a statement to today’s generation what a body hero is. We casted 5 different women with ties to the brand, but very diverse background and body types. They all had their own stories. Brand love is most frequently expressed through social media and this was our most engaged brand post on social media during fashion week. This was also a week where there were so many headlines about how plus size and different body types weren’t represented during fall fashion week. All of the photographs were completely nude. It was a huge statement for us and how it’s not all about taking care of face, but your whole body and instilling confidence in today’s generation.

Question #2: How do measure brand like and love vs awareness? What tools help you?

Panel Answers:

Jasmin Allen (Belvedere Vodka): There are internal processes that we take. We work with our media agency, Havas, so that we are reaching KPI’s and engaging how consumers have been impacted by content we created. Digging in to consumer perception. Perception of competitor’s VS. Us helps us understand the makeup of our consumer. From a partner perspective, we do a brand study where consumers are asked if this content moved them and if they will buy our brand.

Maria Winans (IBM): #1 for us right now is going out into market and understanding if customers recommend our offerings at offering level and up at brand level. It drives action in the company. We then take what customers are saying to our offer management team and go back to market with a campaign to say, “you spoke, we listened”. The problem with most big brands is that they don’t listen. We also go to look at comments that are made on social and review sites to see what people are saying. We use our own technology, Watson Sentiment Analysis and Watson Tone Analyzer. We then analyze and look at emotions from data. Are they relating to the brand?

Colin McConnell (Prudential): We look at the whole picture and looking at reputation and do a better job at telling that purpose driven story.

Alexandra Weiss (Glossier): We look at engagement rate. How much engagement are you generating? It’s Important with growth and awareness to see how much people are engaging with you. We look at consumers engagement on Instagram and on emails, who’s opening them, etc.

Sabrina Caluori (HBO): It does still feel like an imperfect science, there is so much data out there now that we do need to use a little bit of instinct as marketers and those close with consumers, which for us is the community managers in social media platforms to help find insights. They help find insights through data and tools.

Question #3: How do you use feedback, emotional response for additional marketing with consumers who have expressed brand love?

Panel Answers:

Maria Winans (IBM): We use Promoter score. It gives insight on what consumers love and don’t love. Then we are able to act on those detractor statements and go back with specific customer marketing campaigns.

Alexandra Weiss (Glossier): Promoter score is great and we can contribute someone who is a contractor to someone that is neutral is extremely valuable to us. Getting someone who does not like the brand to not be so frustrated to us is important.

Sabrina Caluori (HBO): Success for us now is to think about how you take digital into the real world. For example, we launched HBO go you could buy it from us directly. Super fans were pissed. Someone created a micro site and got a remarkable amount of social engagement and press coverage. When we were ready to go live with the actual product we interviewed that guy and shook him down and created a video and got some social impressions. It as a fun way to take someone online and into the real world. That’s a fun space right now.

Colin McConnell (Prudential): The best activations are to get consumers to do something with others. It’s an interesting shift on how we think about consumer engagement feedback.

Alexandra Weiss (Glossier): Everything is about creating conversation among our consumers. This is where we built our business. Rather than have a brand to consumer conversations, it’s how do you take brand love from a consumer and get them to speak to other consumers about why they have that brand love.

Jasmin Allen (Belvedere Vodka): We partnered with Noisey which is Vice’s music channel to tap into two insights for our target consumer, they love music and our consumers are very aspirational. We did a program where we identified three popular artists and did editorial videos of them talking about their experiences and what shaped their success. Those artists celebrated their thoughts on up and coming artist and we had great content with videos with pre-roll leading in. Instead of jamming in whatever pre-roll, we decided to create pre-roll spots that connected to the video content the consumer would experience. The branded content we are creating must connect with the subject. That’s what moves the needle. That’s how we get the favorable purchase intent scores.

Question #4: How do you communicate importance of sales to other parts of your executive teams? For areas where you might want to see more numbers, how do you get people more on board with the ideas you’re are expressing?

Panel Answers:

Colin McConnell (Prudential): I think in our case is more what is felt in the organization and selling environment.

Maria Winans (IBM): We use to do quarterly planning and always were planning ahead. Now, we can understand the metrics in real time like never. We go by weekly planning and we look at metrics daily and can be looking at where conversions happen, what words are working, etc. This is the art about what is possible today. Man and machine working together, which is a very important message. AI and Watson technology are not going to take over. It’s going to augment and allow us to do much more high value work. The opportunity is to have access to this data and knowing that what you are putting out there is what customers are telling you, you just couldn’t read it before.

Question #5: With the insights that you leverage around your customer and how much they love you, how has this all influenced your voice on social media and who runs this voice?

Panel Answers:

Alexandra Weiss (Glossier): We launched Glossier on Instagram and it’s been the driver of our voice and brand voice. For us, its approachability that you can relate to and speak to. Our brand copy and voice come from our soul that started on social media.

Sabrina Caluori (HBO): This has been a challenging one for us. We have a collection of brands. With the master brand of HBO and the voice of HBO, it’s been a question we have been picking at. What does that look like? In the past, we outsourced too much of that soul to agencies. We made an effort, but at the end of the day, it’s the people in the building that really will know that voice best. Don’t let an agency dictate your voice for your brand. It really needs to come from the people who are leading and loving that brand every day.

Maria Winans (IBM): We use to outsource. We just brought this inhouse. My social media team is on. If you are putting content out there on social, you have to be listening and reacting in the moment. Social media team needs to be able to answer.

Colin McConnell (Prudential): We also manage internally. It’s a thought leadership category. We bring it down to plain spoken every man sounding voice.


The morning converged around strategies, experiences and tools that inspired the attendees on how they can better position their brand to emotionally connect with consumers and best tell their brand stories.