Mark Colburn, an East Bay native born in Oakland, California earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, concentration Marketing and a Master of Science in Marketing with a concentration in Advertising and thesis on product cannibalism in the beverage industry. As a youngster he preferred to “channel surf” ads instead of watching regular programming. He still thinks there is hope for a 24 hour all advertising cable station (!). After graduate school, Mark went into the advertising agency business as a research analyst. Working for Grey Advertising, he was on the team that launched Kikkoman Light and enjoyed working with the creative teams on strategy and new business presentations. He got his first “taste” of the beverage category when Grey pitched for the then-popular, California Cooler account.
After Grey, Mark went on to win the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ Advertising Excellence award for his team’s presentation to Levi Strauss and Foot, Cone and Belding’s senior management group. The presentation was a competition amongst Northern California advertising and marketing professionals (six teams of 6-8 each) who were given the task of preparing a marketing plan for the soon to be introduced Levi’s Dockers. Mark’s team was declared the winner. Much of the strategy from that marketing and merchandising plan was used by Levi Strauss for its number one selling brand in the Company’s history.
From the advertising agency business, Mark worked in the gourmet food sector as a brand manager for Honey Hill Farms. Mark was responsible for launching the company’s super premium frozen yogurt which targeted Haagen Dazs in the upscale pint category. He quickly learned the consumer packaged goods business while working with the company’s ad agency, overseeing a national sampling program, presenting the marketing plan with the sales team at key chain meetings and assisting/recommending R & D on new flavor introductions.
After Honey Hill Farms, Mark went to work for the British Trade and Investment Office (BTIO). His background in food and beverage helped him secure this highly sought after international position. While with the British, Mark earned the status of, “lead post” on food and drink in the United States for his marketing plan prepared for a prominent Scotch whisky distiller. He enjoyed working for the British for seven years, ultimately reporting to Sir Alistair Hunter, while gaining expertise in the beverage industry. In those seven years he worked with many brewers, cideries and distilleries. Mark was also a speaker at London’s International Food Exhibition (IFE) where he presented his published reports on the US Food and Beverage sectors. Mark was also interviewed live for his research on the US hard cider industry by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) at their studios in London, England.
Once his contract was up with the British, Mark worked several years for Earthgrains calling on Safeway as their Brand Champion, Category and Account Manager. After Earthgrains was purchased by Sara Lee (now Jimmy Dean), Mark joined the powerful beer distributor, Golden Brands, later purchased by DBI, located in South San Francisco, California.
Mark has worked for Golden Brands and DBI for over thirteen years as their Marketing Manager. At DBI, Mark manages a brand team, is responsible for a variety of brands as well as the company’s special events that are executed in both San Francisco and San Mateo Counties. Mark enjoys the pace and the variety which can range from launching a new micro/craft brand to devising a creative sales incentive program around an international beer brand’s marketing plan. Mark has learned what it takes to succeed in the very challenging San Francisco Bay Area which competes with Manhattan each year for the #1 food and beverage market ranking in the United States.
More recently, Mark was invited to participate in Boston Beer Company’s, “Brewing the American Dream” competition for beverage entrepreneurs. Mark acted as a “marketing coach” for a variety of companies that attended these events in San Francisco, California.
Mark also has twelve years of adjunct professor experience teaching Marketing and Advertising at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He has been published by the American Marketing Association for his article on Guerilla Marketing in the food and beverage industry. Mark is also proud of his football coaching days when he coached with former teammates and had two undefeated seasons with two players ultimately playing pro football.
His passion and fascination for beer dates back to the 1980’s when he had one of the largest beer bottle collections anywhere. Unfortunately he ran out of shelf space (that endless quandary!) and his parents made him take the colorful assortment down. From his first taste of Pabst Blue Ribbon as a teenager (shhhh) he was hooked on beer and continues to love the category, the passion and the people within it.