6 Years of Welcoming National Brand Speakers to Greenville (Pt.1)

Six Years of Welcoming National Brand Speakers to Greenville

Shannon Wilbanks, Managing Partner, ENDEAVOR and Erwin Creates


Did you know that C-Suite and Marketing Leaders from all these brands have spoken right here at Endeavor? Endeavor isn’t just a coworking space; our mission is to provide remote workers, small teams, freelancers and entrepreneurs the environment, tools, technology, and training opportunities to help them – you – succeed. Since opening six years ago, our Collaborators & Cocktails speaker series has lived up to its promise “to educate, inspire, challenge & entertain” the attendees who come to learn from some of the best in the business – over fun cocktails, of course (crafted by our friends at Liquid Catering).

We enlisted Creative Director Jack Delgado to design the C&C logo back in 2016 – and 36 events later, Jack has designed every single poster. Endeavor members attend for free, and remaining tickets are $30 for non-members, as available. And it’s not just for marketers; professionals from a range of disciplines have figured out this is a great way to up their game without having to leave town.

Here’s who we’ve welcomed over the years (including a few local brand celebs), for what’s become a series of master classes in creativity, leadership and entrepreneurship:

Endeavor opened in May 2016 and in July we welcomed our very first speaker, Susan Credle – who grew up in Greenville and was about to become the Global Chief Creative Officer for FCB, one of the largest and most iconic ad agencies in the world.


Dave Ridley capped off his 27 years with Southwest Airlines as SVP/Chief Marketing Officer, charged with bringing Southwest’s signature culture of happiness to life in everything from traditional marketing to operations and human resources.


No surprise, these 1986 photos of Joe & Gretchen as they opened Erwin-Penland Advertising were quite a hit – as was hearing their stories of founding and growing one of the largest, most successful marketing agencies in the southeast.


A Clemson grad, Ritz-Carlton’s Lisa Holladay returned to the upstate to share her story as R-C’s VP of Global Brand Marketing, focused on amplifying their position of “Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen” to a younger audience via digital and experiential initiatives.


With Denny’s HQ “just up the road” in Spartanburg, having their Chief Marketing Officer John Dillon in for a showcase of their award-winning marketing work was a Grand Slam (IYKYK).


FINALLY WE REALIZED – DUH! – HOW SMART IT WOULD BE TO INCLUDE COMPANY LOGOS ON THESE POSTERS. SMH. Can’t believe it took us that long. But obviously, with the iconic Chick-fil-A in the house, you’re gonna want to show off that logo as much as you can.


Nationwide, it seemed the Clemson brand was EVERYWHERE you looked. Having two of the key “shepherds” of that brand showcased just what a (fun) responsibility that can be for a large, dedicated team OFF the field.


You’ll see Fabio’s name again, but for this 1st presentation, he was Director of Global Football (soccer)/Brand Marketing & Digital Services for Nike. Nike. Not too shabby.


As Lowe’s Foods was opening in the upstate, we met their SVP Brand Strategy Heather George through a former client, and got to hear the inside scoop on Lowe’s unique in-store offerings and how they set themselves apart from other grocery brands.


Our first “local brand celebs!” Back then, GVLToday was less than a year old and their parent company 6amCity was just in this one market…but on their way to rolling out AM newsletters in cities nationwide. Co-Founders Ryan Johnston & Ryan Heafy were joined by Engagement Editor Mary Willson for one of our largest-attended C&C’s ever.


Although Michelin’s U.S. HQ sits just a few miles from here on I-85, it’s an iconic international brand, so we were honored to welcome (and get some insider tips on tire care) from Director, Image and Brands Jennifer Smith.


Doug Poppen’s career in national retail brand marketing was too varied to pick just one brand to showcase, so his presentation included work and insights from Bojangles’, Lowe’s home improvement, Circle K and Carl’s, Jr.


Another standout brand HQ’d in Greenville – OOBE clothing was founded in 1994 by friends-turned-business- partners Tom Merritt and Mike Pereyo, who’ve grown the company on their own terms for more than 20 years. You can read the lessons they shared here: https://upstatebusinessjournal.com/economic-development/oobe-brand-journey-good-guys-dont-finish-last/


The marketing agency David Oakley co-founded in Charlotte is known nationwide – even worldwide – for fearless creativity that gets people talking and produces results for their clients. David was so terrific (and had at least as much fun as the attendees) that a few years later, we invited him back. Keep scrolling.


Another international company that’s right up the road – but is unquestionably one of the world’s most recognizable brands. BMW North America’s Head of Corporate Communications Kenn Sparks, who helped open Plant Spartanburg before ultimately moving to BMW’s U.S. HQ in NJ, regaled us with stories…before swearing us to secrecy.


You may not know the 4A’s, but the American Association of Advertising Agencies represents 700+ agencies which control 85% of advertising spending in the U.S. That’s a lot. As the President & CEO of this 100-year-old organization, Marla Kaplowitz’s view of what brands are selling, how they’re selling it, and what consumers WANT was captivating.


Told you Fabio Tambosi would be back! Fabio actually asked to return, as he was looking to get audience feedback on a creativity-focused talk he was about to give elsewhere, and felt that C&C would be the ideal place to preview his thoughts on working with Nike, Nokia and Clemson.


While C&B is no longer in downtown Greenville, at the time they had just opened their location on One City Plaza with a new-to-Greenville way to shop and eat. Co-Founders and friends Margaret Furniss and Ashley Warnock candidly shared the ups, downs and lessons of their entrepreneurial journey.


Next Up in Part Two…

2018-TODAY: Pizza Hut, Swamp Rabbit Café + getting creative during COVID