30 Under 30 – Nancy Chen

Conceptor, strategy and ideation, Mosaic

Nancy_Chen As a co-founder of Mansion, a hot-as-hell music promotion and event planning group, Nancy Chen is at the forefront of Toronto’s social scene, packing the hottest DJs and musical acts into small, secret places with a few hundred lucky partygoers. Now putting those talents to good use at Mosaic for brands such as Budweiser, she knows when a brand understands music culture and when it’s just hopping on a bandwagon.

Consider how important music has become to international branding. Just about every international beer and liquor label runs a concert series or massive EDM festival to engage with young customers. Chen is one of those young customers who just also happens to be a brand minded, trend spotting, organizational genius.

Everyone at Mosaic knows that Chen (who has a degree in neuroscience) has serious credibility in the music scene. Nearly a year before it emerged as an online trend, Chen spotted a second wave of fascination with the “trap” style of hip hop and sent around some videos to back her case that a trend was coming. That trend exploded when Baauer’s trap anthem “Harlem Shake” became the theme song for viral videos eight months later.

“She absolutely, 100%, brings value to this organization that nobody else can,” says Matthew McCoubrey, a creative director at Mosaic. “Being deeply embedded in music culture and that lifestyle allows us to build events for clients we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do… She’s going to allow us to grow our business at Budweiser like nobody else in this organization.”

That kind of trend spotting puts her in-demand with every Mosaic client – be it a toilet paper or soft drink brand. Her job has become part event planner, part social media manager, part client strategist, part creative and part partier.

For Labatt’s Budweiser Music House launch at North by Northeast, she was able to play the role of strategist and art director in the build up to the event, fill that event with the right audiences and acts (just a little band called Spoon), and then take on the voice of the brand in social media once the doors are open.

Above all, Chen understands authenticity, and that it takes more than a top 40 act and a hot club to build an event that feels authentic with consumers. “I don’t ask brands what music can do for them,” she says. “I ask what they can do for music.”

Meet the rest of the 30 Under 30 for 2014

Photography by Mike Ford
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