Franklin Advertising showcases CrossCountry Mortgage executives at Kent State


Matthew Brown

The audience watches as CrossCountry Mortgage’s Eric Wilson presents a video detailing his previous work with Chipotle and the game Chipotle Scarecrow during the Faces Behind the Brand event on Nov. 1, 2022.

Anthony Zacharyasz, Staff Reporter

Correction: The story has been updated to correctly state Lucy Todaro’s previous employment.

Rebranding, branching out and being smarter than the competitor were some of the topics covered by CrossCountry Mortgage  executives Tuesday night.

CCM is a nationwide mortgage lender based in Northeast Ohio and is the official mortgage partner for the Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Metroparks.

CCM kicked off Franklin Advertising’s, a student organization, newest idea of a speaker series called “Faces Behind the Brand,” drawn up with the help of professor and faculty advisor Mike Jackson.

Initially four panelists were scheduled to present; however, Laura Soave, chief brand officer for CCM, did not attend. The panel consisted of the other three members which included two Kent State alumni.

Eric Wilson (left), Alicia Gauer (Center) and Lucy Todaro (right), talk about their experiences in the worlds of branding, communications and creative design during the Faces Behind the Brand speaker series held by Franklin Advertising on Nov. 1, 2022. (Matthew Brown)

Kent State alumna Alicia Gauer previously worked for General Electric and Lubrizol before becoming the senior vice president of corporate communications for CCM.

Lucy Todaro, also a Kent State alumna, previously worked for Doner Advertising on accounts like Mazda, La-Z-Boy, and GE Lighting. Most recently at Progressive Insurance as creative director for their in-house agency before becoming a creative director at CCM.

Before becoming senior vice president of brand marketing at CCM, Eric Wilson had worked across the country for many big-name brands including Chipotle, Tik Tok and Volkswagen.

The company has over 8,000 employees and 600 branches nationwide.

“A lot of our growth has come organically,” Gauer said. “We are the fastest-growing independent mortgage company.”

The three panelists sat at the front of the First Energy Interactive Auditorium in Franklin Hall where they put on a 50-minute presentation for attendees. The presentation included background information on the company, along with the panelists’ professional careers and avenues to use within the advertising, communications and marketing realms.

Throughout the presentation, text and visuals presented attendees with ways to attract audiences and build a brand.

“As a conscious brand, you want your audience to feel moved, inspired and transported to a place they’ve never been before,” Todaro said. “Great marketers are great storytellers.”

The presentation was followed by a question and answer (Q&A) session between attendees and the panelists.

When the company rebranded to a more simplistic and modernized branding, they took inspiration from other popular brands including Nike and Apple, Todaro said in response to Travis Chambers’, a junior advertising major, question regarding how they went about the decision to change their brand.

Kent State student Travis Chambers poses a question to the speakers during the Faces Behind the Brand speaker series held by Franklin Advertising on Nov. 1, 2022. (Matthew Brown)

Following the Q&A, approximately 40 attendees got the opportunity to network with the three panelists and have one-on-one time to ask more questions and receive feedback in the Wallace J. Hagedorn Gallery, also located in Franklin Hall.

Wilson said conversations with Jackson about “Faces Behind the Brand” started last year and with Kent State alumni involved on the panel, it was an opportunity CCM wanted to take advantage of.

Shelby Cline, a junior advertising major, appreciated how multiple disciplines were represented at the event.

“I liked how we had three different perspectives throughout the entire event, the brand[er], the creator and the communicator,” Cline said. “They gave us a lot of information which provided insight into their company.”

Gauer said throughout her educational years and what she recommends to current students involves focusing on crafting one’s skills that can apply toward multiple disciplines. One way of improving such skills is to pursue internships and shadow different professionals through platforms like LinkedIn, she said.

When Gauer worked for Lubrizol, a Berkshire Hathaway chemical company, she dealt with international affairs that included branches located in France.

“I would recommend working for a global company,” Gauer said. “It gives you great perspective of the world around you.”

“Faces Behind the Brand” and similar events that promote advertising, communications and marketing jobs/careers were not opportunities Gauer thought would intertwine with her major of journalism while at Kent State, she said.

“Here in the real world, you need to be a generalist when it comes to communications and marketing,” Gauer said. “So as a student I would encourage participating in events like this one that expose [students] to multiple disciplines.”

Cline said she would “100%” attend future speaker series that Franklin Advertising hosts and would enjoy seeing panelists from a “bigger fashion company, but the more corporate and business side.”

Franklin Advertising did not state when the next “Faces Behind the Brand” speaker series event would take place. Jackson said they do plan on continuing the series in the near future to engage students within the media and journalism disciplines.

“It’s all about networking,” Wilson said. “Every career is different and they don’t always have to be exactly what you think they might be when you’re first setting out.”

Editor’s Note: In the initial version of this story, the headline and first sentence included a space in the middle of the name “CrossCountry.” This has been corrected.

Anthony Zacharyasz is a staff reporter. Contact him at [email protected].