Cult Brand Secrets

Cult Brand Secrets

Each year, The Gathering brings together disruptors from around the globe to learn from, and celebrate, the leaders behind iconic brands like Marvel, Skittles, Beats by Dre, Yeti, and the Dallas Cowboys. For the first time ever, these unique and enlightening presentations can be heard any time and anywhere on this podcast.Cult Brand Secrets is an anthology of the greatest and most influential presentations The Gathering has to offer, featuring experts that transcend branding to build cult-like adoration of their work. Additionally, host Chris Kneeland uses his own experience in associating with these brand leaders to highlight key trends and help you identify the most worthwhile takeaways. Join our Premium Channel to hear full length presentations at


March 2, 2021 2 min

Each year, The Gathering brings together disruptors from around the globe to learn from, and celebrate, the leaders behind iconic brands like Marvel, Skittles, Beats by Dre, Yeti, and the Dallas Cowboys. For the first time ever, these unique and enlightening presentations can be heard any time and anywhere on this podcast.

Cult Brand Secrets is an anthology of the greatest and most influential presentations The Gathering has to offe...

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Spotify is a remarkable company and an amazing Cult brand. Birthed in 2008 as a viable alternative to music piracy, Spotify has always upheld the importance of properly compensating creators.

In this episode, we hear Alex recount his personal journey and share how the Creative team at Spotify uses data to inform campaigns, Alex will share several examples of how marketing worked with the product, and the data, to create greater fan ...

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March 3, 2022 43 min

Mindy is the Senior Vice President over Global Marketing Partnerships for Marvel Studios, which is owned by The Walt Disney Company. She’s a horse lovin’ southern gal, now living in the glam and glitz of Hollywood, and applying her formidable experience with entertainment properties and big brands to the different Marvel franchises.

As you listen to Mindy speak, you’ll note two things in particular. First, Marvel isn’t about superhe...

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March 9, 2022 42 min

Jane Hwang is the former Global Vice President over Fruit Confections at Mars, which includes Skittles. She has a manner that helped her organization be comfortable with being uncomfortable, which is perfect for such an offbeat brand.

Skittles is the #1 globally selling non-chocolate candy. 200 million individual skittles are produced daily. Obviously when you’re that big so much of the brand’s success is based on manufacturing cons...

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March 10, 2022 45 min

You’re in for a treat because Douglas Atkin is the OG of cult branding. He literally wrote the book on the subject. Back in 2005 he published a book called The Culting of Brands and he was first the first person I know who compared the beliefs and behaviors of actual cults - the creepy kind - with enviable organizations, like fraternities, fast growing religions, and brands.

Douglas’ work led him to interesting marketing roles withi...

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March 16, 2022 43 min

In this talk, Bill will share a bit of his personal journey, where he spent some time at Under Armor, another fantastic Cult brand, and he’ll share three guiding principles that inform Yeti’s marketing mix. This is a great opportunity to experience Bill’s character and personality. He’s a rare individual in today’s marketing leadership landscape.

Most of us pretend to have all the answers, all the time, to any question that is asked...

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March 17, 2022 45 min

Tom Herbst’s presentation at The Gathering 2019 ranks among one of my Top 10 all time favorites. I’d like you to listen to Tom speak, and ask yourself how much you believe in what he’s saying. You should use Tom’s remarks as a barometer of sorts to gauge your own passion and level of enthusiasm for cult branding.

As a business, the North Face is wildly successful at manufacturing and selling products expertly designed to help people...

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March 23, 2022 28 min

Brandi’s speech at The Gathering 2019 is why I’m so excited about this podcast series. Her presentation was incredible. In 30 minutes she articulated the essence of why Lush is such an incredible brand, and frankly I don’t know why more people don’t put Lush in the same category as Ben & Jerry’s or Patagonia or Swell water bottles when they talk about brands that masterfully adopt social justice platforms and almost behave more...

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March 24, 2022 39 min

More than 125 million people in 120 countries have seen a Globetrotters game, and countless more have seen them on Scooby Doo, Gillagan’s Island, TV gameshows, Reality TV, Guinness Book of World Records competitions, and Youtube videos. For over 95 years they have been providing family fun as well as breaking down barriers and teaching their fans how to be better versions of ourselves.

Brent gives us the opportunity to sort of belly...

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March 24, 2022 39 min

So many remarkable success stories start out as seemingly bad ideas. But that’s what makes their success so much more noteworthy.

Building an NHL franchise in the dessert, in a market not known for being very family friendly, a market with no other professional sport team, was viewed by many as a big mistake. But Brian was the right guy to rise to the challenge. He’s a tremendous marketing mind, In fact, I’ll go so far as to say Bri...

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March 30, 2022 31 min

Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give Scott Baker, and Porsche - the company he represents - is that I wasn’t a car person before their brand evaluation, and now I’m a big car fan. Particularly Porsche. This is one of the most remarkable companies and brands and I don’t think they get nearly the accolades and admiration they deserve within the marketing industry.

If you boil marketing down to it’s core essence, there are two th...

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April 6, 2022 40 min

Nils shares a bit about the product features themselves, as well as how it aspires to be relevant within culture - TV shows, music, the new. I encourage you to listen to him and make notes on how something that was birthed in 1941 as a candy designed for WWII soldiers transformed into the most popular candy in the world.

To hear more about how Nils manages the complexity of the running world’s biggest candy brand while never losing ...

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April 7, 2022 45 min

While we usually feature cult brand leaders telling their tales of how their brand earned cult-like status, John Winsor is different. He’s an industry thought leader and a master of the cult-brand principle of co-creation. Most interesting, John is a pioneer, innovator and early adopter of crowdsourcing. We were thrilled to have John present at the 2020 Gathering because of his expertise helping brands become more successful by thi...

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April 13, 2022 33 min

Janelle Shiplet titled her remarks, A Brand Best Experienced, and she lived up to that by giving away Sage essential oils to all the attendees, and started of her talk by having everyone rub on one of their Sage remedies and do some breath work. 

Cult has an adage that says, Don’t just get customers to buy, get them to buy in.” That is exactly what Sage has mastered. They don’t just seek transactional relationships, they earnestly i...

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April 14, 2022 54 min

Cult Brand Secrets has researched brands like Harley Davidson, Apple, Nike, Starbucks and Lululemon to try and reverse engineer what they did to make them so iconic in their categories. But, thanks to The Gathering, we’ve been able to add other types of entities into our data set, such as cities or destinations and non-profits. 

But we grew increasingly interested in people as well. Once we started researching iconic humans, like Mi...

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April 20, 2022 45 min

IBM is a remarkable company, having masterfully pivoted over it’s century-old life to remain highly relevant in the B2B space. In fact, they are sort of the poster child of reinvention, having started in the hardware space and now are thriving in the professional services space.

But IBM wasn’t at the 2019 Gathering as an honoree. Rather, we invited Nancy to come and present because of their proprietary research around the customer e...

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April 21, 2022 43 min

Lots of businesses can fake it for a while while riding some cultural fad, but you need real substance to be around for over 100 years. And A&W began as a simple root beer stand in 1919 following the end of WWI.

I remember after evaluating A&W for That Gathering I would talk about them with people in my network and their familiarity with it varied wildly. Some never ate there, others raved about their burgers, others talked ...

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April 27, 2022 42 min

Tim Harris, the President of a multi-billion dollar brand, speaks to us about culture and shares the story of his mailroom guy. There is so much to be learned about how cult brand leaders emphasize culture and how they treat their people. The LA Lakers’ success teaches us the importance of catering to your current customers, as well as treating your people on staff. There are benefits to focusing more energy on those groups over pr...

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April 28, 2022 41 min

Since the advent of TV advertising, marketers have been perfecting their storytelling - getting better and better at how they talk. But cult brands have also learned how to shut up and listen. They know they aren’t smarter than their customers, so they find clever ways to include the voice of their customer in their strategies and tactics.

You’re in for a treat as Rachel shares the story behind their famous ‘anti-ad’, which went aga...

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May 4, 2022 49 min

Brian Scudamore’s enthusiasm for business, and for life, is contagious. He’s one of those guys that makes me smile just by being in his presence. Sure, he’s a super successful entrepreneur, but he’s also just a really good guy who is naturally curious, has a tremendous work ethic, and most importantly for today’s episode, he has mastered a philosophy about failure that is very refreshing. 

In this presentation, Brian is going to sha...

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