RECAP: Borderless Brands Initiative Launch Event at JWT, June 1

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“Are we prepared to adapt?”


This was a question posed by Bonin Bough, global director of digital for PepsiCo last week at JWT during the Social Media Week launch event for Borderless Brands, a new program that aims to provide marketers with unique perspectives into how social media is impacting global brand communications.

This Darwin-esque interrogative set the stage for an evening designed to showcase the underlying principles of Social Media Week’s new Borderless Brands platform, through a panel discussion featuring marketing and branding leads from Facebook, GE, PepsiCo, AOL, JWT and SapientNitro, starting with Bough’s preamble, “Achieving Digital Fitness in a Borderless World”.

    BB panelists
    Borderless Brands panelists (l-r): Bonin Bough, Peter Nicholson, Taylor Gray, Linda Boff, Freddie Laker, Carolyn Everson and moderator Todd Wasserman

    Bough’s question of “Are we prepared to adapt?” was highly germane to the evening and was asked repeatedly during the hour and a half of conversation.

    Social and technological innovations and an ability to connect with and get feedback from the consumer are driving these adaptions, said Taylor Gray, VP of Marketing & Social Media Strategy, AOL Huffington Post Media Group: “Companies and brands have an incredible opportunity between the technology and the platform to give a much broader experience of their brand and their company to consumers.”

    Organizations big and small around the globe have begun to understand that the age of Borderless Brands demands similar ideas about the need for change and adaption, as well as in listening to the consumer. On how her company GE has been able to grow and evolve in the 21st century, Linda Boff, Global Director of Marketing, said that she realized that “We’ve got to get out of the business of just talking and start listening and engage one-on-one.”

    “Social is a great listening mechanism and an incredible way to transform your business. We think the most interesting businesses are saying, ‘How do we redesign our business?’” said Carolyn Everson, Vice President, Global Marketing Solutions, Facebook. Everson stated that “two and a half million businesses have given up on their own website and have put their presence on Facebook pages: ‘We’re going to go where the people are and be part of the social network.’”

    But right now, not everyone has figured this out yet, according to Peter Nicholson, Chief Creative Officer of JWT, but in order to survive, they must, he said. “A lot of brands are afraid to take risks. They are precious about their messages and what to put out… but at some point you have to throw uncertainty out the window.”

    At Facebook, it’s written on the wall that “It’s OK to break things,” said Everson, but it’s hard for many brand marketers to have the courage–and internal backing–to take such risks.

    “We need to exercise those muscles so we feel comfortable with them and we will see more risk taking as a result,” said Bough, whose company PepsiCo was referenced repeatedly as a chief innovator and a brand unafraid of learning new ways to engage and adapt. According to Bough, “Those organizations who have figured out how to deliver strong, global passionate campaigns around the world have been able to change their business.”

    Bonin Bough, Global Director of Digital, PepsiCo
    Bonin Bough, Global Director of Digital, PepsiCo

    Throughout the evening, the speakers were lively and engaged as the conversation ranged throughout to answer the six questions listed above defining Borderless Brands. At the end of the day, while many brands are daunted about the potential adaptions and evolutions required of them to grow in today’s borderless age, but for those that do, the possibilities are endless. “If you can use [data compiled from Facebook and others] in an amazing way, you will be able to communicate with  consumers in a way that has never been possible before this time. The relevancy that you can deliver through this insight is mind-boggling,” said Freddie Laker, Vice President of Digital Strategy for Global Brands, SapientNitro.

    It was a fascinating evening, and the first of many conversations to take place over the next few months on the topic of Borderless Brands. See more photos from the event at the SMW Flickr page here.

    Toby Daniels, Founder and Executive Director, Social Media Work
    Toby Daniels, Founder and Executive Director, Social Media Week”

    About Borderless Brands As part of Social Media Week this September 19-23, the Borderless Brands program will take 10-15 participating brands on a unique tour of three international cities over five days to meet and engage with some of the world’s top emerging media and technology influencers, representing an incredible opportunity for brand marketers to close the gap between where society and organizations are in their understanding and adoption of social media tools and technologies. If you are interested in learning more about the Borderless Brands initiative and would like to find out if you and your company are qualified to participate, contact Toby Daniels for a meeting and consultation.

    Ben Scheim

    Global Director, Social Media Week


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