He emits an unmistakable coolness, synonymous with his stomping grounds of Chicago, but the Peach State is where he’s made his mark. With more than two decades of experience in the beverage industry, including stints at Coca-Cola, MillerCoors and now leading spirits brand Beam Suntory, Trenell Harris is a tried-and-true pro. As the sales operations manager for Beam Suntory, he is a marketing master of efficiency.
During his ascent in the beverage industry, Harris has covered the marketing gamut, overseeing processes that include data analytics, brand awareness, strategic development and market trends. Add to that, his unique ability to transition from carbonated beverages to the spirits industry, he has championed major projects for a myriad of Fortune 500 companies.
Harris works just as hard off the clock. He’s self-published his own book of poetry (The Silent Voice) and developed a self-produced web series, all while raising two beautiful children.
How has digital marketing changed marketing programs and campaigns?
[It] has created an opportunity to touch different consumers in a meaningful way. Instantly, we can communicate not only the brand and the imagery, but [also] dialogue with targeted demographics. This open space allows the company to take the feedback, comments and even criticism to adjust how we approach engaging with the market.
What two consumer market audiences do you know best?
African Americans and millennials. So many trends begin with African Americans. [We] set the tone for popular culture. Once [we] identify with a particular brand or product, it’s difficult to lose this consumer base. Millennials, on the other hand, are always exploring new opportunities and taking chances. With this consumer group, you have their attention for a limited time, and once you have [it], you need to capitalize.
Why do music and sports play a role in many marketing campaigns?
Everyone can identify with music and sports. Both have a place no matter your background, income, ethnicity or social status. There are so many genres of music, and in today’s culture, people are still creating a new sound and new genre. Through sports, we get an opportunity to be loyal to our team or hometown. Even if we live in another state, we still follow our hometown sports. Sports and music can bring worlds together.
Name two iconic brands you would like to oversee and why?
I have always been a fan of Nike and [its] marketing campaigns. Nike puts the athlete first and supports their beliefs. Nike understands the climate of society and what the athlete endures. [From] Tiger Woods, [to] Charles Barkley, [to] Colin Kaepernick, Nike allows the athlete to voice their opinion as a person. Nike creates a voice for the people.
The other brand I admire is Sean Combs. This man created is own brand. For years, people always heard of this guy named Puffy but didn’t know who he was. He started off promoting parties at Howard [University], and today he has his hand in … liquor, clothing, water and still makes money from music. … Can’t stop, won’t stop.