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BrandWeek Project Spotlight: Author C.G. Cooper and Ascend Federal Credit Union

Oct 11, 2017
Team #1 poses with marketing representatives from Ascend Federal Credit Union
Teams help a local author promote his new podcast and explore social branding opportunities at Ascend Amphitheater

By Kara Sherrer

Corey Cleek, Adjunct Professor of Marketing, opened day 2 of BrandWeek with a lecture on brand attributes and positioning, marketing channels, and more. Primed with his tactical advice, students were ready to take on their first challenge.

C.G. Cooper

The Client: After serving six years in the Marines and starting his own property management business, C.G. Cooper found his true creative calling as an author of novels. He uses his background in the Marines to pen military thrillers but has also published science fiction and children’s fantasy books. Cooper markets and publishes his books almost exclusively on digital platforms.

The Project: In addition to his books, Cooper is also working on two related initiatives: a podcast called “Books in 30”; and a media brand dubbed JBD Entertainment that promotes books co-authored by Cooper and other writers. Cooper is looking for podcast marketing strategies that will drive the growth of his individual publishing efforts and JBD Entertainment. He also asked students to consider how his personal brand should interact with the larger brand of JBD Entertainment.

The Presentations: Cooper’s mailing list is a major driver of growth and book sales, so many team’s suggestions focused on getting signups, through prize offerings or prominent placements on his website. Many teams recommended that he bring his various brands together under one online presence. Others focused on optimizing social content to build Cooper’s personal brand, such as sharing quotes from his books on Instagram.

The Winner: Team #2 won with their suggestion to integrate the podcast with the mailing list. Readers who sign up for the mailing list would be entered to win podcast-related prizes, such as a call from Cooper himself that can be recorded and featured on an episode. They also suggested that Cooper emphasize his military background through #TBT social media posts and his Amazon author bio.

The Feedback: While Cooper praised all the teams and said he would take ideas from each presentation, he really resonated with Team #2’s recommendation to involves readers and listeners in the creation of the podcast. “They’re probably going to share that with their friends, and that’s deep engagement,” he said. He also gave a shout-out to Team #5’s suggestion to build his brand following on social media, rather than only trying push calls to action. “The one thing that I won’t be able to forget is the idea of brand equity. You can have a brand, but to have brand equity…you can’t buy that. You have to build it,” he said.

Team #2 celebrates their win with author C.G. Cooper (fifth from left)

Ascend Federal Credit Union

The Client: The largest credit union in Middle Tennessee, Ascend Federal Credit Union is a non-profit full-service financial institution that provides accounts and loans to members. There are a variety of avenues that potential members can use to sign up, from working at a partner company to making a donation to The Nature Conservancy. Ascend returns any profits to the business and its shareholders, which include credit union members.

The Project: In 2015, Ascend purchased 10-year naming rights to the new amphitheater in downtown Nashville. The credit union’s marketing team is seeking to leverage the venue’s name (Ascend Amphitheater) to grow its brand and increase market share. Specifically, Ascend is looking to connect with millennial concertgoers and acquire their business, be it through new account openings, auto loans, or another service.

Ascend Amphitheater

The Presentations: Teams presented ideas for marketing ideas before, during, and after concerts. Ascend-themed Snapchat geo-filters were a popular suggestion, as were concert-related giveaways such as free parking, tickets, VIP upgrades, t-shirts, and cozies. A couple of groups suggested hosting viewing parties for Predators away games and other sporting events to get more people into the amphitheater and create more marketing opportunities.

The Winner: Team #1 noted that Ascend already promotes a lot of values that millennials think are important: not-for-profit, eco-friendly, community-focused. They suggested that Ascend highlight these values (and their partnership with The Nature Conservancy) by handing out biodegradable cups and cozies printed with their logo at concerts. They also recommended that Ascend pursue strategic advertising partnerships with local businesses frequented by millennials, such as gyms, universities, and apartment complexes.

The Feedback: Rachel Carrick, Assistant Vice President of Marketing at Ascend, greatly appreciated how Team #1’s tagline (“Save the planet. Save money. Save a seat.”) incorporates both the financial and social values of Ascend. She also praised Team #2 for suggesting that branches stage up-and-coming music acts, as well as creating a branded playlist of upcoming amphitheater acts on Spotify. “I want to make (those concerts) happen right now,” she said.

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