6 Years of Welcoming National Brand Speakers to Greenville (Pt.2)

Six Years of Welcoming National Brand Speakers to Greenville – Part 2

Shannon Wilbanks, Managing Partner, ENDEAVOR and Erwin Creates

If you missed Part 1, you can find it HERE.


2018: We’ve been fortunate to hear from some of the most impressive, influential, creative women in business, and as Chief Creative Officer for agency Y&R (Young & Rubicam, for you Mad Men fans), Leslie Sims left everyone wanting more. What we didn’t know then, was that she would be back…


Our first collaborative C&C! Co-Hosts AAF Greenville (American Advertising Federation, formerly known as “The Ad Club”) joined us to welcome Tim Cox, Director of Publix’s very large in-house creative enterprise. Here’s why a company culture of caring breeds success: https://upstatebusinessjournal.com/management-2/takeaway-why-a-company-culture-of-caring-breeds-success/


David Mullen wasn’t a name many of our attendees knew, but as the young founder of The Variable – a medium-sized, very successful marketing agency in N.C. – we suspected that David’s entrepreneurial story would resonate with and inspire the marketers, founders and aspiring entrepreneurs in the audience. We were right.


With 20+ years in marketing strategy & brand building for Krystal, On the Border, Facebook, Popeyes, Burger King and Marriott, Ben Nemo’s presentation kick-started “the school year” with actionable takeaways for every attendee.


Jac and Mary from Swamp Rabbit Café & Grocery. WHAT. A. NIGHT! Their fans packed the house, and these superstar entrepreneurs on a mission opened up about how their lives intersected – including how they dared each other into making their big idea a reality. Plus, all the scoop on their masterful social strategy.


A self-described, “smart-ass safe haven,” Creative Circus is an iconic portfolio school in Atlanta – recognized nationally as one of THE places for creative professionals to up their game. Executive Director David Haan worked on Coors, Molson, Mazda, General Mills, Nestle & Visa before taking the helm, and shared insights on the value of ideas in any company + some spectacular examples of ads that brought great ideas to life.


When a great ground-up brand story is literally across the table from you, you take it! Greenville Triumph (and Endeavor) founder Joe Erwin, Chief Brand Officer Doug Erwin, and Head Coach John Harkes took the stage to share the inside story of – and mission behind – creating Greenville’s pro soccer team.


So much had changed since John Dillon’s first presentation in 2016, we invited this CMO of Denny’s back for round two – which was even more engaging and hilarious than round one. Plus, Liquid Catering’s on-brand cocktails were a BIG hit: “Grand Mimosas” with fresh-squeezed OJ, and the Bourbon-based “Better With Bacon,” included a real bacon swizzle.


No one out-pizzas The Hut, and Pizza Hut’s Chief Brand Officer Marianne Ridley was a huge hit, with lessons on the changing media landscape, reaching customers, and having the guts to lead fearlessly. More on her upstate visit here: https://upstatebusinessjournal.com/business-news/clemson-grad-marianne-radley-raises-the-red-roof-at-pizza-hut/


True confession: it would be unprofessional of me to have favorites – seriously, ALL of these events have been pinch-me special and SUCH a chance to learn and grow professionally.

But if I absolutely HAD to pick, our “Murder, Etc.” session with Brad Willis, telling the story of Charles Wakefield – and Brad’s personal quest to achieve justice for Wakefield’s most-assuredly-wrongful-conviction in the 1975 double homicide of Greenville’s top narcotics cop and his father – well, this one captured everyone’s heart. Brad’s quest became a podcast and a website, during which this cold case started to heat up again, and we got to hear all the crazy details from a GREAT storyteller. You can listen to much of Brad’s candid Endeavor session here: https://murderetcpodcast.com/bonus-episode-brad-willis-live-at-endeavor/


Chick-fil-A returns. This time with Director of Customer Digital Experience Kevin Purcer, who packed the house – the cover photo for this article is from his presentation – and had so much to teach us from CFA’s customer-service-centered brand strategy that comes to life across every digital and physical touchpoint.


Ah, Ian Dallimore of LAMAR Outdoor. This was a fascinating, fun…and a little bit scary (Big Brother & all that)… presentation about what new technologies can do to make you look and react to a billboard or other outdoor advertising tool. But it was early March 2020, and little did we know it would be our last in-person C&C for a looong time.


So then, there was COVID. No one was leaving the house, but we weren’t all completely bored with Zoom yet – so we made lemonade out of lemons.

For May 2020’s event, we asked our friends Fabio Tambosi and Leslie Sims (who are BFFs IRL) to help us go virtual with a no-holds-barred conversation about HOW advertising was still happening in the pandemic, who was hitting the mark, and who was just embarrassing themselves. Co-hosted with Clemson’s Erwin Center for Brand Communications so all their students could attend, this C&C we never could have planned for turned out to be kinda perfect: https://upstatebusinessjournal.com/op-ed/creating-brand-loyalty-in-a-global-crisis/


Over the course of 2020, everyone’s “delight-factor” with Zoom went way down. So rather than churn out virtual events, we held off until January 2021 and started the hopeful new year with a superstar – someone who wouldn’t have been able to do a live C&C, but was fantastic for a virtual event. Attendees made cocktails at home and met us online to see the charming Elise Hu of NPR & TED Talks Daily (and formerly of WYFF), who joined us from her CA living room…with a Paloma in hand even though it was only 2:30 on the west coast.


Between a surge + not being able to bear the thought of more virtual events, we waited until fall 2021 – and called on Joe Erwin and John Harkes to step up with some special content for our first in-person C&C since March 2020. Instead of a presentation, these two successful leaders and friends asked one another questions about Coaching, Leadership & Teamwork. It turned out to be one of our best, most fun events ever. Liquid Catering created specialty cocktails called “The Joey” and “The Harksey,” and we were honored to co-host with sponsors Fifth Third Bank and Joan Herlong & Associates/Sotheby’s International Realty.


Just two months later we packed the house again, with a lot of newcomers who’d registered to hear from Sweetens Cove Bourbon co-founder (with Peyton Manning and Andy Roddick) Mark Rivers. Mark ended the night with a Bourbon tasting that kept us warm as we headed out into the chilly evening. Special shout-out to our co-hosts Nexsen Pruet and Joan Herlong & Associates/Sotheby’s International Realty!


Yet another surge pushed our original January 2022 date back to February, but MAN WAS IT WORTH THE WAIT. David Oakley was back, and had apparently banked all the energy he hadn’t used during lockdown to come roaring back. To say he was giddy to be in front of an audience again would be an understatement. And what a presentation he gave, making us laugh, think, laugh harder, gasp, gasp again, and leave smiling and ready to tackle just about anything.


 …Which bring us to May 2022, #36 in the series. As Endeavor celebrated our 6th birthday, we welcomed BACK our very first C&C speaker, Susan Credle. Still at FCB, Susan is now both Global Chief Creative Officer and Global Chair – so this left-brained/right-brained superstar gave a master class in leadership styles AND showed off some of FCB’s recent, groundbreaking, impactful work. Co-hosting again with Nexsen Pruet and Joan Herlong & Associates/Sotheby’s International Realty, we toasted Susan, our fantastic full house of attendees, six years of Endeavor…and to the next 36 Collaborators & Cocktails events. We hope you will join us!