Can’t Hold Back featuring Treasure Davis
It’s 8:30 a.m. and Teva Global Promotions and Events Manager Liz Ferrin is on the phone with the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) to discuss launching a micro website for Teva’s new B1, a freeride-styled shoe. She’s brought Teva, the nonprofits the International Mountain Bike Association and the Outdoor Foundation together to create a YouTube contest for a biking-focused urban renewal grant.
At 9:30, Ferrin hops on another call with DeCon youth marketing group, hip-hop artist Aceyalone (Teva’s B1 spokesman), and Aaron Chase, a big air mountain biker from Brooklyn. They’re brainstorming video concepts. Next, she is booking tickets to LA for a meeting with the Dave Matthews Band to talk about what projects they’ll do together in the coming year, and to browse their management company’s files for other prospective artists to play the Teva Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado, in June.
When she’s done with that meeting, she’ll be off to a Tamarama concert to book them for the Games, and for drinks with Jay Lyon, host of MTV’s The City, a detail she will surely file away for future networking.
When Liz Ferrin calls, people pick up. They never know what business-bolstering, 15-seconds-of-fame connections will come from the talk, but they always make time for Ferrin. Ferrin has spent 11 years in sports marketing and events and promotions management. During that time, she’s built a digital rolodex that includes everyone from conservationist lawyer Robert Kennedy to explorer Wade Davis, with hundreds of musicians and athletes sprinkled in between. She has crafted collaborations worldwide between artists and musicians, outfitters, nonprofits, corporate sponsors and volunteers to clean up rivers, promote athletes, produce films, compile musical collections and, most recently, to take more than 500 inner-city kids river rafting on the Dave Matthews Band’s tab. While many outdoor manufacturers bemoan the lack of youth involvement in outdoor sports, her energy does something to make the outdoors relevant to younger and urban demographics that all too often never have the opportunity to develop an interest in paddling or climbing.
“Liz has been the direct connect between the Teva brand and the fringe of the industry. She keeps Teva relevant to the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts,” says Joel Heath, Teva’s global marketing director.
All that networking and good will put Ferrin in the ideal position, when the opportunity came along, to create one of Teva’s most successful campaigns yet—the Teva Anthology CD series. The concept is to create the ultimate road trip CD, which also promotes Teva’s nonprofit partners. The first anthology launched in 2003 and, out of the gates, it featured stadium-filling artists like Ben Harper and Michael Franti, who is now an anthology regular.
Ferrin created the limited edition series (she only prints about 30,000 of each volume), as swag for Teva and its nonprofit partners, including Conservation Alliance and Waterkeeper Alliance. This season’s disc includes tracks by a diverse range of artists, including Franti, Q-Tip, Calexico, Andrew Bird, Femi Kuti and Alton Ellis.
“This CD helps our partner nonprofits out a lot,” says Ferrin, “and because our logo is on it and their logo is on it, it also strengthens our association with them. It’s like our shoes,” she says. “It works in a lot of different environments.”
Not only does the disc promote nonprofits, but Ferrin always makes a point to include at least one lesser-known up-and-coming musician, like Carey Ann Hearst from Charleston, South Carolina. Ferrin found Hearst through Wade Davis’ teenage daughter, Tara, who was waitressing with Hearst somewhere in Washington DC and tipped off Ferrin.
On the business side, Teva lauds Ferrin for creating its first strategic business-to-business and philanthropic programs and multi-year partnerships with Stop Global Warming, Volkswagen, Universal Studios, Lonely Planet and others. A committed environmentalist, Ferrin recently helped found ConservationNext.com, an online and on-the-ground conservation group that encourages activism. She is on the Environmental Humanities Board at the University of Utah (her home state), the board of music festival Groundswell, and she just finished terms on the boards of American Whitewater, Wild, Avalaunch and Population Blue.
“The words ‘Work is love made visible’ are the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Liz Ferrin,” says Anita Akhavan, owner of Guerrilla Management, which manages Michael Franti and Spearhead. “Liz lives and breaths her projects.”
Ferrin’s greatest accomplishment to date, says the promoter-activist, is Grand Canyon River at Risk, an IMAX movie that hit theaters in March 2008. She pulled strings to bring in Robert Kennedy and Wade Davis and their daughters, turning the movie into a moving personal encounter with the Grand Canyon made for the IMAX screen. The biggest reward for Ferrin was that she helped to convey a strong message of conservation to an audience that might not otherwise get it.
“We created a high-profile film about the world water crisis that has global impact,” she says. “Not only does the movie give people who may never experience the river in person a close-to-personal experience, it leaves viewers with a strong message they can take to their own communities, to the places that they care about.”