About Steffan Pedersen

Steffan is a Social Media Specialist, Content Strategist, and Digital Marketing Manager with over 5 years experience at both big brands and agency. He's passionate about travel, dessert pastries, and soccer. He's a dual citizen & fluent Danish speaker.

April 21, 2016


Event Overview
April Signature Luncheon: Finding the Profit in TCM Fan Passion
Speaker: Jennifer Dorian (@JRDorian), General Manager at Turner Classic Movies

In our April Signature Luncheon, we featured Jennifer Dorian for a presentation on finding fan passion and realizing the profitable opportunities therefrom. From TCM-branded cruises to festivals and wine clubs, TCM is super-serving their biggest fans using customer insights and data to build brand extensions as well as optimizing the portfolio of new expenditures.

Top 5 Takeaways

  1. TCM has become the trusted keeper of the flame for classic movie culture.
  2. TCM has maintained a strong brand promise for over 21 years, never losing focus of their fans by showcasing uncut video, commercial free, with engaging themes and background content.
  3. 19 Moments You Knew You Were Addicted to TCM: You know you’re doing a good job staying relevant when Buzzfeed publishes a listicle!
  4. Film Festivals, Cruises, Theater Screenings, Wine Clubs, and Twitter Parties. Talk about innovation! (more info on each below)
  5. The brand perception is high among fans: TCM is consistently in the Top 5 stations that fans want to hold on to. They provide feedback and work with TCM to perfect the product.
    (Jennifer provided some takeaways from her presentation, listed at the Conclusion of this recap.)

Upcoming Events

TCM Signature Luncheon, Full Recap

Jennifer had a phenomenal presentation built for the luncheon, so it’s only right we include images of the relevant slides in our recap below. Let’s begin with some background information on TCM, a “411” from Jennifer in what we’ll call Act I, then the “Hardcore TCM” fan insights in Act II.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 3.51.16 PM

Turner Classic Movies, Background

Even if you don’t regularly tune into TCM, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the classic movie channel. Well, it’s no mystery why the brand is still alive and kicking, thanks to the marketing prowess driving new ideas and extensions internally at Turner. With a strong brand promise for over 21 years, TCM has never lost focus of their fans by continuing to bring uncut video, commercial free, with curated themes and exciting background conversations through their program hosts.

A little more background: Turner Classic Movies was launched around 22 years ago this month, in April ‘94, a short while after Ted Turner acquired MGM. After the film libraries were compiled, Turner began to distribute the films for release, and ultimately launched the channel on April 14, 1994, 6:00 PM. Interestingly, this exact date was chosen for its entertainment significance as “the exact centennial anniversary of the first public movie showing in New York City.”

TCM has continued to build out licensing deals in Hollywood to expand their movie selection and become the category market leader. Currently, the channel is available in the US, UK, France, Spain, the Nordic, Middle East and Africa. You can read more on TCM’s history on Wikipedia here.

Act I: TCM 411

Jennifer began by expressing her gratitude for being a part of this brilliant TCM team. These self-acclaimed nerds collectively care about the TCM mission and approach their daily duties with sincere and genuine interest. They’ve innovated the brand to best-in-class status beginning with an official TCM App, which receives overwhelmingly positive reviews and thousands of downloads (see below). Integrations in the app as simple as their Now Playing Guide are receiving big praise when it’s really just a simple schedule reformatted and optimized for a quick, mobile experience. app review

TCM houses over 17,000 classic films, the largest collection of old movies. Well, “how do you define a classic?” you might ask. Basically, anything from between 1890-2010 with varying characteristics based on topic, director, style, etc. Let’s leave categorization to the experts.

TCM consistently curates different categories of programming, including the Condemned. This Programming Spotlight, launched February 2016, airs 27 films which were labeled “condemned” or “objectionable” by the Catholic Legion of Decency (Catholic Church). The movies air on Thursday nights and dive into the influence that the powerful Catholic Legion of Decency had on the film industry. Very interesting.

Over time, publications such as the New York Times have proven supportive and occasional align their content with that of TCM (the NYTimes even provided a Letter of Recommendation for TCM back in 2015, one of their first ever). Publications like Buzzfeed are also providing earned media with quizzes and “19 moments you knew you were addicted to TCM”–type content.

So, the strategy has remained constant: Continue bringing casual movie lovers over to the classics. The AMC’s and HBO’s of the world are all delving into original content now, to increase their ratings, however, TCM has stayed true to their original brand promise and it’s paying off.
(Jennifer declared this the end of TCM 411, now let’s dive into the Hardcore TCM fan insights.)

Act II: Hardcore TCM

No joke, TCM’s fans are hardcore. So hardcore that they’re right up with Apple (and other leading fan-driven brands) in terms of passion.

Their fans are passionate, social, of all ages, and have accepted TCM as the trusted keeper of the flame for classic movies and the culture. Now with this heavy responsibility, TCM naturally launched a “Fan-thropology” study to see what the options were marketing-wise. The TCM Opportunity Map (seen below) highlights different opportunities weighed against the attractiveness and potential fit to their audience.


This sparked the launch of TCM’s Classic Movie Festival, which held the inaugural event in 2010 in Los Angeles. This year marks the 7th consecutive festival, running from April 28 – May 1st, with emotions in the movies (titled “Moving Pictures” as the theme. TCM expects 28,000+ seats to be filled and over 2,000 official badge holders. However, the biggest win may be their press coverage as the festival is held in Los Angeles’ most popular venues including the TCL Chinese Theatre and Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Following TCM’s success in the Film Festival and the notion that their Opportunity Map model was correct, TCM launched the Classic Cruise. Yes, this is a real thing, and to prove it there’s a video below. This activation serves around 2,000+ participants and has been running consistently for six years now. It’s proving profitable and worth investment, so TCM is growing the program and the itinerary continues to expand. They’ve partnered with Disney to use their cruise ships, and head down to the British Virgin Islands this November — Book Now!

Now that you’ve found a cruise you never knew you wanted to go on, let’s move on. Next up, TCM partnered with Fathom Entertainment to screen ~75-year-old movies in modern theaters. With flexibility in the P&L to try new things, this resulted in a win/win/win, earning money for TCM, the venues and studios alike.

To no surprise, TCM kept going. Following some research that an average TCM viewer is twice as likely to drink wine, TCM introduced the Wine Club. This Club has taken off in popularity and offers exclusive wines such as the True Grit Limited Edition Zinfandel where TCM works with the vineyards and bottlers to create original wines paired to taste with specific movies.

To continue the brand extensions, TCM created a Film Noir MOOT (Massive Open Online Course) program with over 50 hours of classes on Canvas, for free, and partnered with Ball State University to offer the course there. Only The Walking Dead’s course had a higher completion rate, begging us to ask the question of whether or not TCM could open a for-profit online movie school. Stay tuned!

To get all this done, partners are critical to TCM’s success. For example, Disney for the cruises, Canvas and Ball State for the eClass, and Running Press publishing for books.

Bonus: #TCMParty Twitter Party: Yes, this exists, and people love it!


Jennifer wrapped up with six takeaways and some audience questions.

  1. Be expansive in ideation.
  2. Let the mission guide you.
  3. Prioritize and find partners.
  4. Stick with it, traction takes time.
  5. Your portfolio will continue to build over time.
  6. You will reach unexpected riches; reinvest the riches to your core brand.

Q1: What about the program distributors?
A1: The consumer is always first, not the distributor. Turner feels comfortable taking risks with TCM, and so far they’ve all paid off.

Q2: What about the aging population?
A2: We have cohorts of fans interested in the classics, and for nostalgic reasons. Mostly 55+ and general film enthusiasts. TCM continues to focus on the 55+ as they’re living longer and longer these days (90+) with more time/money to fine dine, relax, and travel.

Q3: How about targeting families?
A3: Co-viewing is the on-ramp for the next generation. This is how people get into TCM, think millennials watching a black & white with their parents. Last year, TCM used a #LetsMovieDay activation to bring the action to the second and third screens.

Q4: I know you have an app, but what about Video On-Demand?
A4: VOD houses approximately 45% of our movies. The Watch TCM app has around 90% of the movies available. 100 movies a week, changed weekly, keeps the content fresh and engaging!

That wraps up the April Signature Luncheon recap! For a recap of our last Signature Luncheon, an insightful presentation from Pandora Radio’s Heidi Browning, click here.

For more AMA Atlanta information, event updates, and recaps, follow AMA Atlanta on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Instagram: @AMAAtlanta and #AMAATL

Blog by: Steffan Pedersen | Director of Digital Marketing, Object 9 | @steffanpedersen

February 26, 2016

Event Overview
AMA Atlanta February Signature Luncheon: Consumer Trends and Truths: How Marketers can Master Engagement and Build Passionate Fans at Villa Christina.

How are streaming media companies able to allow their users to shape their experiences while driving brand loyalty? Join the conversation to learn how Pandora, the world’s most powerful music discovery platform, leverages robust data to create powerful and engaging experiences for its nearly 80 million active listeners. Our innovative guest will discuss macro trends around consumers of today, the importance of knowing who your audience is, where and how they connect with your brand, and how you can leverage the power of music to captivate the attention of future fans.

Heidi Browning, SVP of Strategic Solutions, Pandora – @Heidi_Golightly

Event Recap

On a brisk and overcast Atlanta day, the AMA Atlanta community gathered at the wonderful Villa Christina for a memorable Signature Luncheon session, featuring Pandora’s Heidi Browning Pearson. I’d like to start by thanking Heidi for her availability and continued support of our chapter! It’s no surprise that the tables were packed full in a larger-than-average room for this special occasion.

After last minute registrations, some quick power networking, and shuffling to find our seats, Mary Stenmark took the stage to provide some chapter news and introduce the session. A few noteworthy updates from Mary:

  • 34 new AMA Atlanta members since January!
  • 55 group members — most in AMA!
  • Jessica Mash recognized as Volunteer of the Month – congrats Jessica!
  • Finally, don’t forget to check out AMA Atlanta’s Job Board and Mentorship program.

Upcoming events:

Now for the meaty and insightful recap content that you all came here to see!

Heidi opened by explaining her passion behind the work being done at Pandora; creating meaningful connections between bands, brands, and music. When she’s travelling, and it happens to come up in conversation that Heidi works for Pandora, the stories and love for the brand expressed by mere strangers is overwhelming. Everyone has their story and passion behind the brand, often pointing to their favorite station or time spent listening.

Here’s a quick look at Heidi’s customized Atlanta presentation slides — so fun!

Atlanta Loves Music!
1 Million Unique Listeners
561 Million Songs Streamed
37 Million Hours Listened
25 Million Total Thumbs

Atlanta Gets Down!
Top Artists for Women: Kehlani, Tink, Ciara, K. Michelle, Jacquees, Meghan Trainor, Ariana Grande, Beyoncé, Keyshia Cole, Selena Gomez.
Top Artists for Men: Metallica, N.W.A., AC/DC, Young Jeezy, Ariel Camacho & Los Plebes Del Rancho, Eminem, Wiz Khalifa, Los Temerarios, 2 Chainz, Tupac.

Atlanta Keeps it Hot!
Top Genres for Women: Today’s Hits, Today’s R&B And Hip Hop Hits, Pop & Hip Hop Power Workout, Today’s Hip Hop and Pop Hits, R&B Love Songs, 80’s R&B, 90s R&B, Rap Strength Training, Today’s Country, Twerk.
Top Genres for Men: Rap Strength Training, Today’s R&B And Hip Hop Hits, Today’s Hits, 80s R&B, Today’s Hip Hop & Pop Hits, Rap & Hip HOp Pre-game, Trap Rap, Pop & Hip Hop Power Workout, Rap 2015, Today’s Country.

Very interesting insights to the Atlanta consumers and music scene, highlighted by Workout stations, and a few surprise Latin artists. Heidi took this opportunity to mention that the Latin segment is one of their fastest growing markets — also very interesting.

Nationwide, an impressive 80 million people listen to Pandora monthly, which was accomplished with little-to-no paid media, as Heidi explained. They built the passion and engagement organically, but realize that this technique is not sustainable and they must continue to deepen relationships for more engagement.

Heidi then took us through a few trends and truths, followed by some campaigns and results we’ll dive into later on.

Macro Trends

#1 – Fragmented, Shrinking Consumer Attention Spans (in regards to media)

It’s been said that humans now have a smaller attention span than that of a goldfish. Well, Heidi reiterated this development and honed in on how valuable it truly is to get a share of someone’s attention.

#2 – Personalization Everywhere: “Now Playing – You!”

Personalization impacts everything these days. A strength of Pandora’s is seen in their personalization and recommendations algorithm. They’re among the best-in-class, and are looking for ways to increase your thumbing to continue to personalize and build a deeper relationship.

#3 – Data, Data Everywhere

Between the Internet of Things, wearables, connectivity, etc. etc. we’ve become obsessed with our “quantified-self” and self-improvement. With these obsessions come inherent sharing. Lots, and lots of social data sharing. (We’re looking at you, Mrs. 15,000 Fitbit steps per day!)

#4 – Show Me You Know Me!

This derives from the Millennial-based expectations of any given brand. Millennials expect a two-way dialogue, and have (for the most part) learned to tune out mass media. Make Millennials feel invested in with personalization, and your brand will ride the coattail of Millennial love for years to come.

#5 – Sonic Boom.

Heidi described this macro trend as a complete transformation. At CES (the International Consumer Electronics Show, held annually in Las Vegas) we’re seeing a switch from touch screen innovations to sound-based innovation. Think voice activation, voice recognition, and the various other uses of sound in the future. Today, if your strategy includes audio, it will help you dramatically in breaking through the clutter and get in with the “earphone culture.” Fact: You can process multiple visual cues at once, but can only process one sound.

Truth Trends

#1 – Time spent in mobile apps has passed TV for the first time. (via Flurry)


#2 – 75% of people choose music as their top choice of entertainment. (via Nielsen)

Music is the universal language that connects us. It’s a deeply emotional experience, and transcends culture. Example: shawnthezombie tweeting that he lost 75 pounds thanks to Pandora!

#3 – The music you listen to when you’re between ages 16-22 is the most meaningful in your life in regards to nostalgia, memories, etc. (via Edison Research)

#4 – Experiences > Things.

67% of millennials would rather spend $150 on an experience, over a physical item. Interestingly enough, this trend was also true in 74% of women. Fact: Millennials are a generation that are NOT hoarding and collecting things.

Heidi then took us through some marketing challenges.


Challenge #1: Fragmented Media
Challenge #2: Data, Data Everywhere
Challenge #3: Creative for Mobility
Challenge #4: Measuring ROI

Solutions: Pandora is always looking for ways to win share of attention, and by doing so have placed the consumer at their core. They’re beginning to humanize their data, with insights as to, “What does this really mean?” By putting the consumer at the core, Pandora’s been able to connect on a deeper and more emotional level, thus raising engagement.


In leveraging the passion point of music, Pandora created their “Thumb Moments” campaign. We watched the clip featuring Nick Jonas surprising fans with one-on-one concerts. The idea behind these campaigns was simple: Increase the amount of thumb actions (critical to Pandora’s long term business), thus increasing the long term retention strategy and enhancing user customization/personalization. Clearly this type of campaign is not scalable or sustainable, so Pandora needed to come up with something else…

Meet Thumbprint Radio, a uniquely personal station comprised solely of your thumbed-up songs! The concept was product of a Pandora Hackathon, and has been wildly popular since launch. To get this station: Create a Station –> “Thumbprint Radio” –> Enjoy! In launching the product, Pandora activated 33 influencers to describe their experiences with Thumbprint Radio. Reaction – That’s my Ish! 

The initial takeaways (after 1-2 months) of Thumbprint Radio seen below, with significant results in the Recaptured Fans, Station Ranking in Listening Hours, and Increase in Thumbs categories.



Case Studies

#1 – Huggies + Kimberly Clark

Simply put, Huggies partnered with Pandora to create a Baby Making Station around Valentine’s Day. Yes, you can imagine the playlist includes lots of Barry White. The station lives on for as long as you’re opted in, meaning the brand needs to refresh the playlist every few weeks to ensure listener retention.

This introduces the concept of Sponsored Listening, still somewhat new to world of Pandora. Basically, ad-free music for uninterrupted music “moments” we’ll call it. 🙂

#2 – Taco Bell

Taco Bell had a very different challenge, being a physical fast-food location with specific price points, as they hoped to raise awareness of a new menu innovation – the breakfast menu and a free Biscuit Taco. The campaign was aptly titled, “Breakfast Defector.” In creating this campaign Taco Bell partnered with Pandora to take Sponsored Listening to another level. Basically, an ad would appear for a free Biscuit Taco, and offer for 60 minutes of uninterrupted music if you opted-in. Taco Bell was able to hit 40+ million Millennials through Pandora, and integrated a layered mobile campaign to include audio, display, and video ads to recapture the audience.

The campaign launched successfully through the concept of offereing the audience a sipmle chose and a reward. By opting-in and engaging around a 15 second ad, you received a free Biscuit Taco and 60 minutes of uninterrupted music. Of course, Taco Bell’s brand messaging would be placed throughout the 60 minutes, but without disrupting the music experience.

Awareness Results: +16% lift in “Biscuit Taco” product association, +28% lift in “Breakfast Defector” message association, and +26% greater awareness of the Biscuit Taco than unexposed survey respondents. (via Millward Brown)

Localized Results: 15% more likely to visit a Taco Bell location, and 1 in 7 of the exposed listeners who visited ended up returning within a 10-day period. (via Placed)

Heidi wrapped up with a touching story of how personalization drives 1:1 engagement. Enter the lives of Maggie and Kyle, two lovers united by their love of music (in Maggie’s case, Pandora). Kyle decided to make his engagement personal, memorable, and creative; so he reached out to Pandora and was able to secure a custom ad on a specific station during their car ride that evening. Thankfully, the ad played while they were in the car and Maggie gave Kyle the “I do” (how could she not??). This is just one, small example of what Pandora is capable of, and how spending time on personalizations can mean the world to their biggest fans.

Before opening up to audience questions, Heidi reiterated that it’s time to take industry-wide risks and share success stories, as marketing/advertising are changing as a whole. We’re at a crucial crossroads where we need to move the industry forward as a group, and every collective effort helps. We agree, Heidi, and that’s why we bring powerful and engaging speakers like you to Atlanta!

Audience Questions:

Q1: How do you find and activate influencers?

Heidi: Our agency finds the influencers. Pandora will internally find influencers who participate in sharing the stations/service in general, but most of the efforts are on the agency side.

Q2: Demographics of Pandora listeners?

Heidi: Roughly 50% iOS and 50% Android. 80% mobile, 20% desktop. However, Smart TVs, Sonos, Xbox and Playstation, etc. usage is increasing rapidly. This falls in the social listening category, as an in-home experience, as people are utilizing the service while hosting guests.

Q3: What’s a major challenge that keeps you up at night?

Heidi: Growing the user base. The music industry is complex by nature, and you must stay on top of the latest news/trends related to radio, on demand, and live events. However, this presents an opportunity in data mining as well. Based on data analytics, Pandora is able to activate local, live events (i.e. Atlanta hip hop show for Pandora listeners) as the artists are trending in an area. Pandora does this about 54 times per year, and the shows are complimentary to listeners as sponsors foot the bill.

To supplement the live event activations, Pandora acquired TicketFly in late 2015. TicketFly specializes in selling tickets to smaller/mid-sized venues, where a 40% unsold ticket figure is not uncommon. Pandora is able to target the right people at the right times to sell more tickets.

That wraps up the February Signature Luncheon blog recap! For those of you who attended, thank you, and for those of you who missed out – we hope this provided a thorough takeaway. A previous version of Heidi’s engagement presentation can be found on SlideShare, here.

For more AMA Atlanta information, event updates, and recaps follow AMA Atlanta on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Instagram: @AMAAtlanta and #AMAATL

Blog by: Steffan Pedersen | Director of Digital Marketing, Object 9 | @steffanpedersen

January 27, 2016

2016 is off to a bang at AMA’s Atlanta Chapter! For those of you not able to attend this year-opening event, here are a few noteworthy recaps:

  • AMA Atlanta has 59 new members since the close of 2015.
  • AMA Atlanta is the 3rd largest Chapter nationally, quickly catching up to Houston.
  • AMA Atlanta now boasts 55 Group Members, being companies with four or more members.

Upcoming AMA Atlanta Events 

It’s worth noting that the first BKV Social Series event is coming up on January 21st, and our February Signature Luncheon on consumer trends (featuring Heidi Browning Pearson of Pandora) will be February 23rd. For those of you still in school, the 30th Annual Collegiate Conference Mixer is coming up on February 25th, with the actual Collegiate Conference & Job Fair itself being held on the 26th. Also, the 59th Annual AMY Awards at the fabulous Fox Theater are quickly approaching quickly, so plan accordingly and get your tickets before it’s too late!

Mary also took this opportunity to point out two opportunities for AMA Atlanta members. First, the AMA Atlanta job board, where you can try a 30 day free trial and then post for as little as $145. Second, the AMA Atlanta Mentorship program that we highly recommend checking out if you see value in giving/receiving career advice.

After some networking and finding our seats, the crowd calmed as Kate Atwood was introduced and brought to the stage to begin her presentation.

Choose ATL: Creating a Movement

Kate promptly captured our attention by opening with the brand new ChooseATL video (below), and a depiction of a longtime project of hers that sits very close to her heart, Kate’s Club. For those unfamiliar, Kate’s Club is an organization on a mission to empower children and teens facing life after the death of a parent or sibling.

Kate explained the new promotional video as a love letter to Atlanta, and it was extremely well received among the attendees. Kate explained the thought process behind this video, explaining her perspective that Atlanta is a very unique community. “Our hospitality is Atlanta’s secret sauce for new college grads looking to make something happen.” Here, in Atlanta, young people have the unique opportunity to step in and immediately get their hands dirty, similar to how Kate started her Club.

As you can see, Kate’s Club is as unique an organization as Atlanta is a city, and Kate explained her journey as a young person getting her hands dirty in bringing it to life. From hosting a bar night which raised $1,200, to now residing in a Midtown clubhouse (tour here!) with a full-time staff of five; Kate’s Club has come a long way and the passion + hustle to pull this off was thanks to Atlanta’s hospitable ecosystem. As Kate explained, people surrounded her concept and mission, and we are seeing similar support with her ChooseATL initiatives.

In creating a powerful ChooseATL brand, and driving social impact, it’s important that we are collectively intentional about who we attract and bring to our city, as they hold an integral part in shaping the future of our community. Kate has been working relentlessly over the past few months to promote narratives around the special energy we all feel in Atlanta, and learning to boast,

“Look at us! We are a global star!”


Kate then highlighted two main strategies around the ChooseATL.com branding:

1- Meet them where they are.

Meaning, meet the candidates, who are weighing various choices and options, in the virtual space where they’re already playing. Show them all the neighborhoods Atlanta has to offer. Describe to them the vibrant scene that is downtown, and the walkability. The website should reflect these key attributes, and candidates should walk away feeling virtually connected and aware of all Atlanta has to offer.

2- Evolve perceptions.

Share with the world what Atlanta has to offer! From movies, to entrepreneurship, to startups and major corporations; Atlanta is rockin’. Kate even joked about starting a hashtag #WhoKnew to exemplify all of Atlanta’s attributes and misinformed perceptions. This is where the Imagine ad campaign concepts were derived.

imagine kate7

An interesting finding within the Metro Atlanta Chamber, that Kate shared, is that other competitive cities of similar size have been successfully marketing themselves all along! Look at Houston, Columbus, and Nashville for example. It’s time we begin sharing with the world what we have to offer, and creating a sense of connection to those who may not have an opportunity to visit prior to making a career decision.

A few new tools, or engagement tactics, Kate is considering introducing include a Neighborhood Quiz to determine where you might fit best in the City, as well as a dedicating a portion of the website to Atlantans sharing their stories and perspectives on why they chose Atlanta. Stay tuned. . .

Kate’s most recently organized event, the Ultimate Job Interview Contest, opened for entries back in October 2015 and the finale event was held this January 5-6 at the Georgia General Assembly in Ponce City Market. The contest was for college students looking to Choose ATL and leave their mark on the city. Kate hopes to grow the size of the competition each year. There’s no doubt that this is a winning recipe, as the opportunity to directly pitch top executives for jobs (as well as a hefty check) will surely capture the attention of college students. Although engagement was not as high as initially expected, ChooseATL was still able to capture valuable evergreen content, and new platforms for marketing the city through each of the contestants’ entries. As always, feedback is invaluable, so feel free to provide your feedback and ideas via the Contact Us form here. Congratulations to all the #UJIC finalists and winners!

Kate wrapped up the presentation by discussing the four key roles required to grow the ChooseATL program. Along with the importance of being intentional, Kate noted the need to be transparent – to highlight the good and the bad about Atlanta – since we’re far from perfect. The roles are listed below:

Honest Evangelists: Realistic and honest. Atlanta is a place where you can make a difference. Just look at Detroit and Baltimore—Millennials flocked there following unsatisfactory newscasts, and decreases in public opinion, because they’re places that at 21 you can get involved quickly and make an immediate difference.

Enthusiastic Hosts: This points back to capturing Atlanta, and the South’s, hospitable nature. We must find a way to convey this message on social media, like LinkedIn, which is growing immensely in the 18-24 year old demographic.

Valued Connectors: Think jobs, social initiatives, and volunteering. The Ultimate Job Interview Contest is a start, but we must continue to provide resources for young people considering our community.

Creative Storytellers: Provide those considering Atlanta with a lens to look through. Otherwise, they might not know what they’re looking at! This is the space where creative marketing and advertising campaigns will be of the utmost importance, as they’ll shape the first impression many receive of the professional landscape Atlanta has to offer.

Lastly, for those of you attending SXSW Interactive this year, the Metro Chamber and Choose ATL will have a house on Congress March 13th and 14th. I’ll be there, various AMA Atlanta members will be there–Kate surely will–and we hope to see Atlanta show up in big numbers for the takeover!

With ChooseATL as the platform, this is just the beginning. Exciting initiatives to come!

For more information on why you should #ChooseATL, check out their sites here:

And be sure to connect with AMA Atlanta and join in on the conversation:

Blog by: Steffan Pedersen | Director of Digital Marketing, Object 9 | @steffanpedersen

June 26, 2015

This is a recap of the AMA June Signature Luncheon event, Linking Entrepreneurial Marketing with Innovation and Performance. Really great event with a rock star group of speakers. And, being a startup centered group, the feel was slightly less formal than the typical Signature Luncheon. A lot more laughter, and even some cut-up jeans!

Devon Wijesinghe, CEO Insightpool
Brooke Beach, Marketing Director Kevy
Eric Spett, CEO Terminus

Jeff Hilimire, CEO and Co-Founder Dragon Army

Photo cred: Brandy Jessen

Photo cred: Brandy Jessen

Question 1: How do you focus on sales? What’s the importance of sales and marketing in a startup company?

Brooke: Be in the weeds of sales: demos, calls, and being everywhere you need to be. You have a sales organization, not just a sales department, that’s growth-oriented. Set periodic milestones to hit your long-term goals.

Devon: Conferences. Attack people coming out of the bathroom. Whatever it takes! Sales and marketing are really meshing into one thing, with different subsets of attributes. A successful sales tactic today is to educate with influencers. Insightpool has been killing it this way lately, hosting webinars with the likes of Brian Solis. Devon also reiterated that people typically don’t know they have a problem until you show them.

Brooke: [People are] 45% less likely to buy if first contact is strictly sales. So your messaging and activities must gravitate towards education: eBooks, white papers, influencers, etc. People do their own research these days and will eat up your educational content!

Question 2: Uncomfortable corporations with startups. How do you deal with this?

Eric: Terminus is a data provider — cookies for display ads, etc. Basically, they are putting ads in front of every decision-maker; self-titling it “creepier retargeting,” where the targets don’t even have to hit your page to be served your ad! Corporations see the value, however, and are generally ok with the practice (it is totally legal, after all).

Devon: It’s so fragmented. There’s no one touch point.

Question 3: Word association game. Match the process explained to one word of your choosing… What if you couldn’t change the marketing plan of your company for 12 months?

Brooke: Horror
Devon: Stupid
Eric: Conservative

Jeff explained this is how large corporations generally run. They fall into this budget allocation trap, which in turn creates an organization that is not agile. Jeff then discussed The Innovator’s Dilemma, which really struck a chord with me. Basically, this concept is derived from Clayton Christensen’s book, suggesting that “successful companies can put too much emphasis on customers’ current needs and fail to adopt new technology or business models that will meet their customers’ unstated or future needs.”

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 12.18.03 PM

Side note: I really liked this style of moderating; super creative.

Question 4: What advice would you give to corporations to breakout from this trap?

Brooke: Big money is spent at decision-time, so it’s great for vendors and service providers!

Devon: Budget allocations don’t really make sense. For example, say you want to win the Super Bowl. How do you get there? It requires agility and the ability to restructure any processes and tactics. Set short-term goals to visualize where you stand in the company, jot down long-term goals in pencil, and work backwards.

Brooke: A big annual budget to spend typically results in doing the same thing year in, year out. There’s no A/B testing, no ROI implementation. It comes down to intentionality. For example, startups measure and analyze a lot more, because they inherently have to. Every dollar counts!

(Brooke wrapped up by recommending the Justin Mares book, Traction, with the takeaway that testing is a necessity.)

Devon: Large corporations typically don’t factor in that things will change. For example, with employee advocacy being all the buzz these days, organizations aren’t prepared to implement these systems that ultimately allow for huge successes like 10X content reach!

Eric: Set up test/experimental budgets that are more open-ended. Have an allocation on the side to use for R&D.

Question 5: Startups (even with upwards of 50 people) can pivot relatively easily. How and why is this?

Eric: Terminus had no idea what to do at the beginning of their journey. They knew the B2B space was underserved, with a huge opportunity, and the market was moving towards automation. They jumped in to the advertising automation space and are confident it will stay at their core, but zig-zags are still to be expected.

Devon: Insightpool began as a lead generation B2B social tool that’s now more enterprise level, chasing the big guns.

(In his words, “It’s nerve-wracking,” but a lot does not matter so long as you have a great product. Devon also said that pivot is a strong word when all you’re really doing is changing. Everyone, in every industry, is doing small changes constantly. Again, the key is to remain agile.)

At this point, Affordable College’s Sean O’Brien offered his story to the audience. Sean’s spearheading efforts that will help create a clear path for students to an affordable, recognized bachelor’s degree; amidst hardships in affording the massive tuition payments and also transferring schools. He told the story of his complete pivot, following the realization that college presidents don’t care about college transfers and the issues with their credits transferring, a cause I can definitely get behind.

Audience Question: “Startups must see opportunities everywhere. How do you focus and know which to chase?” – Joe Koufman

Devon: If you operate quickly and can absorb it, and have “that opportunity gun guy,” go for it. You need an opportunity spotter and a person to implement and plan. These should not be the same person or you’ll likely end up on some extravagant, albeit exciting, divergence.

Brooke: Jeff specifically wanted to ask about the influence of David Cummings, the founder of Atlanta Tech Village, while Brooke’s been at Kevy. She said that he’d had some influence but not an overwhelming amount. He stressed that it’s important to be agile, but not too agile or everything will be left half done. You need that priority and process-oriented person to complement the ideas person. There also needs to be a process to vet opportunities.

Question 6: On transparency…

Eric: Open book policy at Terminus, minus salaries and equity. Eventually compartmentalize a bit more as they grow, but they’re just not there yet.

Devon: Humans are really adaptable when given the information. Otherwise, employees will spend too much time asking “what if” and trying to learn what’s going on. Everyone is more productive when they know where they (and the company) stand.

Brooke: Transparency builds trust, and decisions are easier when the team understands the “why.”

Eric: Hiring process is transparent as well. That could ultimately be the edge over other companies for new talent!

Jeff: Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh, recently implemented a Holacracy alternative management system, letting self-governing teams get their work done through tactical meetings. It encompasses a non-hierarchical organizational structure and has been adopted by various companies around the world, Zappos being the largest. Being a somewhat new manager myself, learning and studying new management styles like Holacracy is very insightful.

Question 7 (more of a prompt): Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) spend more than Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) on technologies and softwares.

Brooke: “MarTech” is the new buzzword these days. In 2012, experts stated that by the end of 2017 CMOs would be spending more than CTOs, but it’s happened already in 2014! This isn’t necessarily a strategy, spending money on technology, but a tool. Technology today is becoming more and more enabling for marketers. Also, we’re seeing more agency partnerships with SaaS startups for educational purposes. There’s so much out there that it’s important to stay plugged in and keep learning.

Devon: Casually coined the term, SWaS. Software WITH a Service. Think, Client Success Managers. Many get addicted to the results, before truly learning and loving the software capabilities.

To wrap it up, Eric addressed SalesLoft’s thought leadership expertise. When you create educational and instructional content, it lives online for the lifetime of your web property, there for people to use and reference. You’re building a library of helpful content that becomes mutually beneficial, as consumers will begin viewing you as a go-to source and subject-matter expert.

Jeff played one last word association game: “If you were the CMO at a large corporation, what would you immediately change?”

Eric: The way we measure.
Devon: Setting priorities.
Brooke: Enabling time to make decisions.

That wraps it up. Really great answers from all the speakers, please comment or let me know if you have any thoughts or questions.

For more of my AMA write-ups, click here.

By: Steffan Pedersen | Director of Digital Marketing at Object 9 | @steffanpedersen

April 3, 2015

LEGO’s Brand Revival – A Recap of the March Signature Luncheon


Did you know that the LEGO Group was battling bankruptcy in the early 2000s, before catapulting up to its current 2015 position as the “World’s Most Powerful Brand?” I, for one, had no idea of these struggles and failures, up until the March Signature Luncheon featuring LEGO VP of Marketing Mike Moynihan.

As Mike began, he brilliantly grabbed our attention by opening with some engaging LEGO trivia questions. For example, did you know that for each person in the world there are 62 LEGO bricks? Or how about that the LEGO Group is one of the world’s largest tire manufacturers? Also, supposedly LEGO’s mini figures are the world’s largest population, of any kind! (More here if you’re interested!)

Moving into the heavier material, Mike explained how LEGO has always been a well-known brand, and is one of the top toy makers in the world alongside Mattel and Hasbro. However, huge deficits around 2004 led to significant changes in attempts to turn the company around. Referring to these hard times, Mike explained, “I remember it got so bad that for six to eight months I walked in thinking, ‘Today could be the day,’ and I remember there literally being a lightbulb in every other fixture.” I scanned the room following this declaration, and it’s safe to say nobody had any idea this was their reality as little as 10 years ago. Whoa.

Eventually, LEGO was forced to ask itself the question, “Why do we exist?” That’s when the current customer-centric strategy was created. LEGO began proactively listening and talking to fans, which led to its new mission statement: Inspire and Develop Builders of Tomorrow.

Mike joked that LEGO was indirectly responsible for the creation of Google, as Larry Page and Sergey Brin were featured in an article around the same time discussing their childhood love for LEGOs and praising the creative benefits of building with these small bricks. I know it was just a joke, but hey, I’m totally cool with LEGO claiming Google.

Moving into the depths of the brand, Mike displayed LEGO’s impressive brand framework, seen below, including its mission, aspiration, various promises, brand spirit, and values. It was highly captivating—and inspiring—to see a huge global brand operating in this way, in this day and age.

ama 3 17 lego 1

LEGO Brand Framework

Mission: Inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow
Aspiration: Globalize and innovate the LEGO system-in-play
Play Promise: Joy of building, value of creation
Planet Promise: Positive impact
Partner Promise: Mutual value creation
People Promise: Succeed together
Spirit: Only the best is good enough
Values: Imagination, creativity, fun, learning, caring, quality

Mike went on to discuss the way LEGO tracks the NPS (Net Promoter Score) of its communities, across platforms and engagements. The communities LEGO has developed are impressive to say the least. For example, let’s take a look at LEGO Ideas (fka LEGO Cuusoo, which exists only as a blog now). This concept was introduced to allow the community to be part of new product development. Awesome. So you’ll create an account, log in, and share your idea.

Lego Ideas

If your idea gathers enough support (10,000 supporters or more), LEGO will review your project and decide whether or not it’s worth creating. Basically, it’s a branded Kickstarter! As you can see below, popular projects can receive over 100,000 eyeballs in less than a month’s time! Projects moving on to review will typically see a quarter of a million views, with thousands of comments! Talk about a successful B2C collaboration campaign.

Lego Ideas reviews

Next, we learned more about the processes, and culture, of LEGO.

1. Exist to serve others (this ideology has directly led to average profit margins twice the industry average!)
2. Brand ownership
3. Leadership focuses: collaboration, not coordination
4. LEGO > EGO! (Self-effacement is inherently a part of Danish culture. Scandinavian societies operate according to the “Law of Jante,” a mentality that de-emphasizes individual effort and places all emphasis on the collective, while discouraging those who stand out as achievers.)
5. Execution > Strategy

1. Start with insights
2. Co-create with stakeholders (Capture the passions and creativity of unfiltered children.)

Another couple of key takeaways are listed here:

Brand extensions must support the core function, e.g., The Lego Movie. Much to our surprise, it took Warner Brothers over two years of pitching to win the production rights to this film! Straight from Michael: “You’d be amazed by how little money LEGO made off of this.”

Always challenge conventional wisdom: Be laser focused on consumer needs: Kids = Mastering skills!

Think through a consumer-needs lens. For example, why are teens waiting longer these days to get their driver’s licenses? Historically, cars were important for social reasons. They were the method for transporting yourself to a specific destination, friend, or social gathering. But teens are not as anxious to drive these days as they were, say, five years ago, for one simple reason: smartphones! Analyzing and looking through this consumer lens allows you to understand your target demographic in greater depth.

Threats [such as digitalization] can be opportunities: Minecraft.

Know who you are, and who you aren’t; go to senior leadership with any questions or concerns.

Be all about serving your stakeholders. How can you help them? This is not about tricking anyone into buying anything, merely about helping out.

Don’t worry about competitors as much as you think you should.

Innovation flourishes in constraints.

Don’t wait for a “crash” to change your course! Be willing to make changes and take risks.

And, finally, with power comes responsibility. This speaks to the new CEO (although he’s no longer so new) and his vision. He’s been crucial in LEGO’s revitalization.

Audience Questions

Q: What is the typical role of an agency when working with LEGO?
A: LEGO has a few agency branches: consumer and shopper agencies (both in house), and media/”other” agencies (Starcom). In-house creates approximately 80 percent of LEGO’s design, while the media agency works with process and keeping up with the latest trends. Other agencies are sporadically consulted with needs like marketing to adult demographics, etc.

Q: How do you manage UGC (user-generated content)?
A: LEGO Clubs, which are independent and separate from the LEGO brand and operations, play a huge role in UGC. LEGO provides support to these groups, which often have thousands of members. The approach: stay in the background, step in to facilitate and provide assets when necessary. (Being a part of a LEGO Club offers you exclusive content and access to the latest products, often before anybody else.)

Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: Workload. It’s impossible to scale as fast as LEGO has required, and it’s even tougher to prioritize efforts and activities.

Q: What’s next?
A: Digital visualization and digital experience integrations. LEGO is doing its best to keep on top of trends and user experience innovations. This may mean new developments in the app world, along the lines of Minecraft’s successful venture. Furthermore, 25 percent of LEGO profits are allotted to the LEGO Foundation. Leaders have finally pinpointed the future usage and potential of this foundation, and plan to utilize it for further education. Nice!

In Conclusion…

A cohesive change management philosophy is crucial, regardless of your company’s size or financial positioning. Treat your vendors as partners, let your customers have a say in brand ownership, and clearly define the role of innovation. Teach younger, up-and-coming generations about the lessons learned, historic brand values, and giving back to the community that made you.

Mike did a brilliant job with his presentation, and I was even able to connect with him following the discussion to ask some more personal questions regarding Denmark and working among Danish peers and culture. As a Dane myself, I was thrilled to have this conversation and hear such great things about the motherland. :)

Be sure to check out AMA Atlanta’s upcoming events.

By: Steffan Pedersen | Director of Social Media at Object 9 I @steffanpedersen