Where Brand Marketers Come to Learn, Share and Connect

By Gavin O’Hara, Global Social Media Publisher, Lenovo


I had the privilege of speaking at a Brand Innovators marketing summit for the third time. This one was at Kellogg’s World Headquarters in Battle Creek, Michigan. Here’s what I learned while I was there.

* Corn Flakes were invented when W.K. Kellogg accidentally spilled liquefied corn meal on a heating device that cooked it into little flakes. He was all “Whoops” and then he was all “Yum.” How he thought to add milk I’ll never know. #genius


* Marketing people sometimes get a bad rap (often well-earned) but many of them take a surprisingly altruistic approach to their craft. “Brands, culture & cause” was the mantra from the inspiring James Cuthbert (Coke). James also had the quote of the week for me: “If you’re going to do culture marketing, you’ve gotta be a patron–not just a pimp.” (You can add your own Pepsi/Kendall Jenner comment here.)


* From what I can gather, depending on the day/wind, Battle Creek either smells like fresh yummy cereal or dirty socks mixed with stagnant river. It is a fascinating little slice of Americana tho.


​* My self-esteem level is pretty decent but, man, I feel dumb when people like Laura Foti (GE Digital) and DeLu Jackson (Kellogg’s) start talking about data and analytics. Rededicating myself to straying from my storytelling comfort zone and patiently learning at the knee of the data gurus around me.

* Kalamazoo (down the highway from Battle Creek) is home to something remarkable: the Kalamazoo Promise, a fund endowed by anonymous donors offers to pay full tuition for any graduate of the local public high schools who want to attend any Michigan state college or university. (Imagine if that went nationwide.)


* The talk I gave in Battle Creek was titled “Brand Content & The Lost Art of Being Interesting.” It was less an indictment than a challenge, an invitation to brand publishers to acknowledge how ubiquitous social marketing and an increasingly mature audience have jaded many people to brand messages and raised expectations for the rest. (Poor Kevin Costner.)


* Am I the last one to know that Kellogg’s bought Pringles back in 2012? I feel like I am. They also bought Kashi way back at the turn of the 21st century. Who knew.

* A marketing keynote without ample time for Q&A is like breakfast–or lunch or dinner–without bacon. Missed opportunity. I know it sounds crazy but what if people did (admittedly ill-informed) Q&A first and then used whatever time is left for those slides they could have shared via email or SlideShare anyway? In my book, conversation beats presentation every time.

Is that 38 things? No?

— G

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by Brandon Gutman
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Brandon is an expert connector and seasoned business development professional. As Principal of Brand Approved, he's led the advisory to become the bridge between brand marketers and best of breed service providers that are reshaping the industry.

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