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CLIENT: B. PHL
Philadelphia: Home to the Innovation Revolution

Introducing A World-Class Innovation Event

Philadelphia is home to some of the most innovative minds in the world – dreamers and doers from all walks of life dedicated to disrupting the status quo and impacting change. So when the creators of the B. PHL Innovation Festival came up with the idea to highlight innovation throughout the region, we jumped at the opportunity to pitch in.

We supported B. PHL and Independence Blue Cross (Independence) – the leading event sponsor – in the Festival’s launch in 2019, which featured more than 200 events and 400 speakers at 20+ locations. Content focused on innovation across education, healthcare, technology, the arts and more – sparking dialogue and driving impact. The shift to a virtual format in 2020 attracted a global audience and convened some of the biggest and brightest visionaries during a time when this strategic and thoughtful content was needed most. 2021 brought its own unique circumstances and B. PHL presented the best of both worlds with a hybrid (in-person and virtual) approach to meet speakers’ and attendees’ health and safety preferences.

One constant over the last three years: Team Brian worked with client partners to secure strategic media opportunities to build awareness for the Festival, while planning poignant and timely discussions to draw a crowd.

Big Names for a Big Event

In 2021, the client team knew we needed headlining speakers with a wow factor that would make a hybrid event shine amid a world of virtual fatigue. We helped them secure several of B. PHL’s featured speakers including Philadelphia’s own Wendell Holland, Host of HGTV’s Hot Mess House and winner of Survivor: Ghost Island; Ken Frazier, Executive Chairman of the Board at Merck; Jami McKeon, Chair of Morgan Lewis; Jay Wright, Head Coach of the Villanova Men’s Basketball Team; Brad Ingelsby, screenwriter who wrote and produced Mare of Easttown; and many more. Our role didn’t stop at securing talent; we also curated panel discussions on critical topics including female leadership in professional sports; preventing the next pandemic; civility in politics; and reducing recidivism through an equitable workforce.

Philly's own Wendell Holland, Host of HGTV's Hot Mess House and winner of Survivor: Ghost Island, joined us alongside Quincy Harris to share his career evolution story and to reflect on the power in new beginnings.

Independence Blue Cross CEO Greg Deavens spoke with Ken Frazier, former CEO and current Executive Chairman at Merck, about strategies to build more diverse talent pipelines and create a more equitable workforce in America. In this virtual discussion moderated by Crystal Ashby, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer at Independence, Greg and Ken reflected on their unique career paths and offered sound advice to the B. PHL audience.

Team Brian curated a powerhouse panel of women representing each of Philadelphia’s professional sports teams – Lara Toscani Weems, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment; Catherine Raiche, Vice President of Football Operations for the Philadelphia Eagles; Blair Listino, Chief Financial Officer for the Philadelphia Flyers; and Bonnie Clark, Vice President of Communications for the Philadelphia Phillies. We also secured Moderator Leslie Gudel, former CSN Sports Anchor and COO of Elevate Sports and Media.

Steve Fera, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs at Independence Blue Cross – the leading event sponsor – drove an engaging discussion on civility in politics and the value of bipartisan collaboration with Rep. Joanna McClinton, Pennsylvania House Democratic Leader, and Charlie Dent, Executive Director and Vice President of the Aspen Institute Congressional Program.

Our CEO Brian Tierney interviewed Jami McKeon, Chair of Morgan Lewis – the seventh-largest law firm in the world – in a special live virtual taping of his podcast, “Withology.” They discussed her path to becoming the first female chair in the firm’s 150-year history and how she really feels about the phrase “work-life balance.”

Derrick Cain, Community Engagement Editor for Resolve Philly, interviewed Down North Pizza’s Founder and Owner Muhammad Abdul-Hadi and Executive Chef Mike Carter, in an important discussion on the challenges that formerly incarcerated individuals face when it comes to employment, and how they’re working to reduce recidivism at Down North.

Philadelphia native Questlove, an award-winning Musician, Producer, Author and Culinary Entrepreneur, joined us at B. PHL 2019 to discuss his inspiration and signed copies of his latest book, Mixtape Potluck.

In 2019, our CEO Brian Tierney interviewed Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone. He discussed his humble roots in Philadelphia, how he built Blackstone from the ground up and the importance of education and a positive corporate culture.

Bill Marimow, Senior Advisor at Brian Communications and two-time Pulitzer Prize recipient, interviewed Josh Kopelman during the inaugural B. PHL Fest. Josh discussed his experiences as a serial entrepreneur, investor and innovator.

A Steady Drumbeat of Coverage

In addition to curating compelling content, we worked with client partners at B. PHL and Independence to execute an earned media strategy that blanketed the regional market and put the Festival in the spotlight. Through key B. PHL updates and speaker announcements, we secured coverage in outlets such as The Philadelphia Business Journal, The Philadelphia Tribune, City & State PA, iHeartRadio, 6ABC, The Philadelphia Citizen and more.

2021 RESULTS

20+

media placements

39 Million+

impressions

8

key sessions curated

Building on a Strong History

B. PHL may be three years young, but the Festival has delivered can’t-miss content since its launch. Brian Communications secured several of B. PHL’s featured speakers in 2019 including Musician, Author and Innovator Questlove; Stephen Schwarzman, Chairman, CEO and Co-founder of Blackstone, a leading investment firm with $545 billion assets under management; and friend-of-the-agency Josh Kopelman, serial entrepreneur and Founder of First Round Capital, who took a leap and was an early investor in companies like Uber, Blue Apron and Warby Parker. In 2020, we planned sessions focused on diversity in the C-suite and board room; employee mental health; wrongful conviction; a virtual tour of Penn Museum; and a session on self-care.

Since its inception, B. PHL has grown from a regional, citywide event to a hybrid attraction drawing a global audience. The takeaway from the first three years has been clear: Move over Silicon Valley, Austin and Boston – Philly is the new hub for big ideas, imaginative vision, and disruptive thought leadership.