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Brand Strategy Experts Panel 2014



Brand Strategy 2014:  The Keys To Crafting Authentic Stories

In an environment where advertisers are incessantly vying for our attention, how does a brand go about standing out from the pack?  Moreover, how does a brand go about creating a real and authentic relationship with it’s customers while telling it’s story in a non-evasive, yet memorable way?

Please join us for an informed and thought-provoking discussion at the University of San Diego, where our panel of branding experts aim to answer these timeless questions about creating authentic and meaningful relationships with both current and potential customers.

Our Panel:

Frank Cowell - President and Creative Director
Elevator Agency
Mark Weslar -
VP of Marketing
Karl Strauss Brewing Company
Steven Picanza - 
Marketing Development /Brand Strategist
Experiences For Mankind (EFM)
Andrew Begin - Owner / Founder
AGBegin Consulting


Sterling Doak - Director/ Consumer Behavior
The I.D.E.A Brand


Date:  Wednesday, May 7th 

Time:  6:00 - 9:30

Venue:  University of San Diego - Manchester Conference Center

Address: 5998 Alcalá Park, San Diego, CA

Tickets:  $20 in advance / $30 at the door

Grub:  Yes!  Taco Station, courtesy of our sponsor Benchmark Email and your friends John and Kevin at the San Diego SEO Meetup.

Taco Station: 
(Option 1) Carne Asada Tacos with Celery Root and Apple Slaw with a Cabernet Syrup. (Option 2) Beer Battered Fish Tacos with Citrus and Corn with Avocado Crema.  (Option 3) Grilled Fajita Vegetable Tacos.  All Tacos Served with Black Beans and Mexican Rice

Bar:  A cash bar will be onsite.  Drink up!

Complete Schedule (subject to minor changes):
- 6:00 - 7:30 - Registration / Networking / Hors D’oeuvres
- 7:30 - 7:45 - Opening Remarks
- 7:45 - 9:15 - Panel Discussion w/ Audience Q&A
- 9:15 - 9:30 - Closing Remarks

Parking at event:   FREE but requires permit (see instructions below)

Parking Instructions:  Parking is free but requires a permit.  A permit can be obtained for free by following the instructions at this link:

***It is recommended that you park in the West Lot (aka West Structure) BUT technically you are free to park in any space on campus that not marked "reserved" after 5 PM***

Directions to Venue:  Complete directions to the Manchester Conference Center can be found at the bottom of this page below the speaker bios.  See below.


***About Our Sponsor***

Benchmark puts the online marketing tools you need right at your fingertips, allowing you to connect and engage with customers new and old at every level. Whether it be our email marketing and event management tools, our award winning software and cutting edge features will help you custom create each campaign that is best for your audiences. It’s a one-stop shop to do all your company’s online marketing!


Speaker Bios:

Frank Cowell: 
Frank’s rare passion for both technology and strategy makes Elevator what it is: A creative agency that drives for measurable results. Prior to starting Elevator, Frank spent over 10 years in sales and marketing for the mobile, web and technology industries. Frank’s approach is lead by his straight-forward candor and thoughts on what strategies will get the best response for his clients. A veteran United States Marine and martial artist, Frank claims to watch Kung Fu movies for the plot.

Mark Weslar:

Mark is a dynamic marketing leader with a proven track record and broad experience.  As a marketing pioneer, Mark seeks out challenging assignments and quickly attacks the raw opportunities facing a brand......outlining bold, concise plans to accelerate growth.  With extensive experience in brand & shopper marketing, Mark's success is driven by his keen strategic mind, collaborative leadership style and classical training gained through an MBA from Indiana University, brand management training from Kraft Foods and sales leadership training from Frito-Lay.  Mark began his marketing career in a family owned chocolate company and most recently spent 11 years with MillerCoors leading many brands to growth….notably Coors Light and Coors Banquet.  Mark is now the VP of Marketing for Karl Strauss Brewing Company, an iconic San Diego based craft brewer of award winning beers sold throughout California. In this role Mark leads all marketing across their beer and brewery restaurant business.

Steven Picanza:
"Creativity isn't a hobby. It’s a way of life.” Steven is driven to improve not only himself, but the people and world around him. As a brand strategist, this translates to forging partnerships and conceiving new opportunities for EFM through one-on-one conversations. It is this positive outlook, coupled with his sheer candor and entrepreneurial spirit that drives him to bring authenticity back into advertising, serve as a catalyst for progress in the industry and inspire the next generation to do the same.  Born and raised on Long Island, Steven brings his New York hustle to the better coast, pocket square and all. When he’s not busy cheering on the Yankees or chatting up prospects, he is performing with his jazz band, speaking at conferences nationwide or writing for Advertising Week and The Agency Post. 

Andrew Begin:
Andrew Begin is a strategic marketing consultant and social media marketing instructor who's passionate about helping organizations foster great customer experiences. He holds a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Maryland and teaches in the University of San Diego's Division of Professional and Continuing Education.  When he's not teaching or working with clients Andrew can be found watching or playing live music around SD. Connect with Andrew on twitter @agbegin. 

Sterling Doak:

Responsible for consumer experience and brand development for all i.d.e.a. brand partners, Sterling talks to consumers, sticks his nose in marketing research statistics and emerges from the smoke with a finely crafted strategy.

Sterling prides himself on fully grasping the whens and ways a brand and consumer intersect. He has developed right-sized solutions for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, PUMA Golf, ecoATM, Hot Spring Spas and Von Dutch. He studied Music Business Marketing at the Art Institute of Seattle, so he knows how to make clients feel like rock stars.


Driving/ Parking Directions to USD and the “West Structure”

University of San Diego:  5998 Alcalá Park, San Diego, CA 92110

From the North (Los Angeles, La Jolla)
 - Use I-5 (South), exit at Sea World Drive and Tecolote Road (just past Hilton Hotel on Mission Bay).
 -  Turn left on Tecolote Road.
 -  Turn Right at Morena Blvd.
 -  Turn Left on Napa Street to Linda Vista Road.
 -  Turn left at the 1st stoplight on Linda Vista Road onto Marian Way, USD's West Entrance.
 -  If you did not obtain a guest permit online please stop at the kiosk to obtain a guest permit.
 -  Turn Left after the kiosk and park in any white-lined space that is not marked reserved in the lot or structure.

From the South (Downtown, Convention Center)
 -  Use I-5 (North) to I-8 (East). While on ramp, exit on Morena Blvd.
 -  Follow Morena Blvd, and bear right onto Linda Vista Road.
 -  Turn Left at the 2nd stoplight onto Marian Way, USD's West Entrance.
 -  If you did not obtain a guest permit online please stop at the kiosk to obtain a guest permit.
 -  Turn Left after the kiosk and park in any white-lined space that is not marked reserved in the lot or structure.

From the East
 -  Use I-8 (West), exit at Morena Blvd.
 -  Bear right onto Linda Vista Road.
 -  Turn Left at the 2nd stoplight on Linda Vista Road onto Marian Way, USD's West Entrance.
 -  If you did not obtain a guest permit online please stop at the kiosk to obtain a guest permit.
 -  Turn Left after the kiosk and park in any white-lined space that is not marked reserved in the lot or structure.




Join or login to comment.

  • Jane R A.

    I saw there was video recording during the discussion. Will you be posting the video?

    May 14, 2014

  • Jane R A.

    I really enjoyed the venue and meeting other like-minded marketing professionals. As for the discussion, I was fascinated by both client and agency perspectives. Not to mention the friendly jabs at each other were quite entertaining. I would definitely attend future events. Thank you!

    1 · May 14, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great job on hosting the event! Thank you!

    1 · May 9, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great event.

    1 · May 8, 2014

  • Michael R.

    Great event, thank you! Really helped inspire some ideas for new features on our site. (

    1 · May 8, 2014

  • Cynthia H.

    Another terrific even by this group. Excellent panel! Always great to see old friends and meet new faces.

    1 · May 8, 2014

  • Justin M.

    Great meeting everyone and the panel discussion was fantastic!

    1 · May 8, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    The speakers were very knowledgeable but also fun and lively. They all had plenty of valuable insight. The food and drinks were good and there were attendees from diverse fields.

    1 · May 8, 2014

  • Jaime N.

    A great set of panelists, great discussions and mostly great insights into the marketing atmosphere today.

    1 · May 7, 2014

  • Dennis D

    Great insight, great set up. Highly recommend

    1 · May 7, 2014

  • Andrew B.

    The moderator/panelist prep meeting was awesome, really looking forward to next Wednesday!

    1 · May 1, 2014

  • Courtney

    I'll be out of town - sad to miss this event!

    April 30, 2014

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