For decades the industry’s largest events garnered the most attention. No more. Introducing Hidden Gems, the first recognition program focused on b-to-b events with less than 5,000 attendees. Coproduced with leading b-to-b event agency Cramer (cramer.com), Hidden Gems brings to life some of the big ideas, big creative and big thinking—shared by the sector’s smaller events. Congratulations to all of the inaugural winners.
Campaign: Energy Summit Client: American Electric Power Agency: Eventive Marketing
Designed more than 100 years ago, the United States electrical grid is the “single largest integrated machine in the world.” The Illumination Energy Summit is designed to explore the energy of tomorrow, with 350 invited attendees. The experience this past year began with their welcome to the Greater Columbus Convention Center’s Battelle Grand Ballroom, where attendees encountered riser seating and motion graphics on the projection screens, before welcome speeches were made by executives. The centerpiece of the summit was the Exploratory, an area focused on advances in energy technology. It offered hands-on learning in a simulated “near-future” village, demonstrations from a range of partners and curated sponsored tours of more than 30 products. There was a life-sized house and garage, a warehouse and theater space, roadways and 15-foot-tall live trees. Panel discussions featuring 30 speakers later built upon the attendees’ interactions from simulations, where panelists talked about electric mobility, grid innovation and economic opportunities. One-on-one discussions and networking took place among additional products and services showcased on a mezzanine level to foster casual discussions during breaks. Post-event, 96 percent of respondents said their primary and secondary objectives were successfully met, and 81 percent said they were ready to facilitate innovation conversations when they returned to work.
Supportworks’ annual event Redefine has all the trappings of a successful b-to-b event, but what made Redefine special this year were the custom touches. Attendees received logoed enamel pins, branded room keys, handwritten welcome notes and a laptop ready backpack filled with conference essentials. Staffers delivered surprise-and-delight experiences like a favorite obscure soda at check-in, emergency meds, a birthday cake for an attendee to take back to their child, and a toiletry bag with essentials. Let’s not forget about the custom “Redefine Times” newspaper with articles and images from the previous night placed at outside each attendee’s hotel room in the morning.
Campaign: Dealer Meeting Client: Ford Agency: Xperience Communications
Ford’s annual National Dealer Meeting proved that with a little imagination, “traditional” event spaces and programs can take on a life of their own—even in busy Las Vegas. The brand engaged 5,000 attendees over the course of four waves and five days at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the Bellagio in a program that included test drives, general sessions, networking and partner experiences. At the Bellagio, the brand engaged 1,500 people in one room. With the theme “Inside the Oval,” attendees received insights into Ford’s future plans and strategies. Dealers encountered an RFID-powered “Welcome Wall” broadcasting their names as they entered. Once inside, they were welcomed by a 100-foot by 18-foot curved LED wall spanning the width of the room. Ford leadership, including the ceo, spoke with the goal of making attendees feel “embraced as insiders.’” Over at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Ford transformed the 144,000-square-foot infield pavilion into an immersive product and technology experience. Dealers were guided through an interactive Welcome Center populated by 20 partners and suppliers. Among positive results: 98.7 percent of Ford dealers “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the statement, “I am excited about future Ford products and technologies coming to our showroom.” One attendee said: “Best Ford meeting I can remember.”
Southwest Airlines makes it easy to deliver on employee engagement by hosting annual rallies across the country. This year in Las Vegas, the brand kicked off its rally not with an overproduced video or executive message, but with on-stage games, like karaoke contests and “minute to win it” challenges. When executive leaders did take the stage, audience members could chime in instantly with questions and comments via the event app. The rally continued with an expo featuring food, booths and professional development, as well as a “lawn” with games. The entire space shifted into a full-blown party at the end of the night. Talk about rallying the troops.
Campaign: Top Creator Summit Client: YouTube Agency: MAS Event + Design
The top creators on YouTube are inspirational in their own right. So when YouTube gathered 150 of them for its Top Creator Summit, it needed an agenda worthy of their influence and a non-corporate outpost that spoke just to them. Held at The William Vale boutique hotel in Brooklyn, NY, the creators were treated to custom experiences from the get-go, including personalized décor and individualized room drops. For this intimate event, YouTube gave creators full access to top executives as well as top-tier content with speakers Cardi B, StoryCorps and YouTube ceo Susan Wojcicki in the lineup. In the afternoon, creators bonded with one another through excursions that included parkour at the Brooklyn Zoo, the Dream Machine pop-up, Escape the Room at Escapeburg, and a tasting and tour at Greenpoint Beer & Ale Co. The program continued with an afterparty at Brooklyn Bowl that featured more customized touchpoints like illustrated bowling pins designed to look like each creator (earning 1,500 mentions on social media) and action photo moments with a traveling “selfie sphere.” The creators’ experience wrapped with a red-carpet walk at YouTube’s Upfront. The results, just as VIP: five million Instagram Story views and 54,000 YouTube Stories views, overall.
Campaign: SEMrush LIVE Client: SEMrush Agency: In-house
With many marketing events to compete with, SEMrush leaned on the motto: “Bring people for content, let them leave with emotions.” Its SEMrush LIVE user conference that attracted 130 digital marketers began with a “be yourself” dress code, and continued with a “we got you covered” experience where attendees enjoyed complimentary transportation, 4G high-speed mobile hotspots (given to each attendee) and hand-written notes, among touchpoints. The agenda offered a mix of learn-and-play programming, from local SEMrush office tours to parties at the local SEMrush team’s favorite spots. An inviting design strategy included a village, complete with wood buildings, street names, greenery and a town square.
eBay this past year revamped its eBay Open annual event for 2,500 sellers that in the past had offered plenty of strategy, but not quite enough “sellerbration” of its users. So, eBay leaned on approachability with a “Say Hello” theme and light-hearted environments on the expo floor that included four giant “breadcrumbs” that teased information on workshops, a giant piece of cheese where attendees learned to take better photos and an oversized screwdriver that served as home-base to learn about selling tools. And then there were the brand ambassadors on the expo floor blasting eBay cannons that rained down “bills” that featured eBay’s new payment information. This fun and community-oriented approach included access to brand stakeholders like the ceo, who made himself available throughout the conference. eBay combed through past attendee surveys to develop the program, which included six general sessions, five product launches, a live webcast to the public and to shareholders, seven original videos, an awards ceremony and a multitude of seller panels, as well as a Facebook Live studio and seller takeovers of eBay’s social media platforms. Oh, and there were 19 workshops on repeat. The event ended with a “Best Week Ever” party—and 82-percent of attendees saying, “until next time.”
Following high-profile funding by Google and Apple, mixed reality wearables brand Magic Leap took a leap with its first-ever two-day conference, L.E.A.P. Con. The event boasted 1,700 attendees and took place, naturally, at Magic Box at The Reef in L.A. Key features included 20 demo studios, 16,000 square feet of building wrap, projection mapping on a giant astronaut and high-profile speakers including AT&T ceo Jon Donovan and Andy Serkis, creator of Imaginarium Studios. Partner Wayfair styled bedrooms, where attendees used the Magic Leap devices to virtually switch out pieces, and partner Angry Birds created gaming rooms. The event was colorful, eclectic and whimsical, and resulted in 200 million social media impressions and 120 pieces of unique media coverage, overall.
Campaign: Mint Concept Launch Client: Genesis Agency: INVNT
To drive buzz for Genesis’s new Mint Concept, a two-door, all-electric luxury car for city life, the brand staged a product launch at New York City’s Hudson Yards, home to the Big Apple’s newest, buzzworthy landmark, the Vessel. The first event to be held at the site, the spectacle attracted consumers and 250 media and influencers, and garnered 450,000 livestream views on Twitter. The brand also introduced its “Small Car, Big City” messaging leading into the New York International Auto Show that week. The event was a fashion show, music concert, art installation and product showcase all in one. Attendees seated beneath the structure enjoyed live music performances from Printz Board, Lipstick Gypsy and the Sing Harlem Choir, a choreographed scene from 75 dancers and a “runway” fashion show, orchestrated by Condé Nast titles Vogue and Vanity Fair. Three large installations added to the luxury design ambience, including a 30-foot-tall pair of headphones, a tube of lipstick and a handbag designed by Michael Keller of Blackspace. The event culminated with the reveal of the Genesis Mint Concept as it drove around the Vessel with dancers trailing behind. Event content captured on-site was then distributed across several titles, including Vogue, Vanity Fair, W, GQ, The New Yorker and Architectural Digest.
Campaign: Symphony of the Seas Client: Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Agency: Wilson Dow
Unveiling the world’s largest cruise ship to more than 900 customers, media, crew and key stakeholders warrants a splash. Royal Caribbean’s “Symphony of the Seas” ceremonial launch, coupled with the reveal of a new $250 million terminal at Port of Miami, did the trick. Guests experienced the first-ever “godfamily” christening, a modern spin on the traditional christening ceremony. Florida International University’s Marching Band and drumline members at Miami Southridge Senior High performed. Famous Scottish bagpiper Louise Marshall led a bagpipe procession, an electronic violinist serenaded the crowd and modern white-on-white architecture with splashes of blue called to mind the ocean. The event garnered 6.4 billion media and social media impressions. Anchors away.
Campaign: Global Launch Client: Blockchains Agency: R&R Partners
Blockchains Founder Jeffrey Berns has a vision for a city that runs completely on Ethereum blockchain-powered technology. To gain support for it, he set out to present the technology to developers and investors at Prague’s DEVCON iv., the world’s biggest Ethereum blockchain event. The idea was to show attendees how this emerging technology can be harnessed as a more efficient energy source. The tech is not real yet, but thanks to holograms, 3D animation, projection mapping, responsive lighting and augmented reality, Berns’ keynote gave the 1,700 attendees a virtual tour of the city of the future. As guests made their way to the experience, projection mapping on buildings along the route teased the story of Blockchains City. Upon arrival, they passed through an LED tunnel transporting them into the “space,” which was outfitted with LED-responsive lighting synchronized to dj beats. While presenting, Berns introduced a holographic cohost who was inspired by his daughter—a young girl who represented tomorrow’s youth. The two interacted on stage, with the help of a volumetric and green-screen capture process projected onto a Holo Scrim. Lastly, Berns took the crowd on an immersive tour of the proposed city using computer-generated interpretations of the architectural plans projected onto a 60-foot LED wall.
Campaign: Benefit Roller Liner Diner Client: Benefit Cosmetics Agency: Pop Up Mob
To generate awareness and buzz about its new roller eye liner, Benefit Cosmetics converted the original Johnny Rockets diner in Los Angeles into a two-week pop-up. The 1950s-style diner, drenched in Benefit’s signature pink color, featured limited-edition products, makeup classes, glamour stations, roller skating servers and Instagram photo opps ranging from an old-fashioned motorcycle to a kitchen sink overflowing with pink bubbles. Attendees were invited to test out the product along with other exclusive merchandise. And, for those who didn’t want to try the product on physically, each bar seat at the diner offered augmented-reality mirrors to test the product digitally. Ice cream sandwiches and cones from the Milk Shop offered a sweet reward.
Campaign: JBL #Requestmas Client: Harman International Agency: Matter
The press are people, too, so when it came time to drive buzz surrounding its JBL LINK hands-free voice-activated speaker with Google Assistant built-in, audio brand Harman turned to joy and popped up some holiday spirit in time for shopping season. Requestmas was all about making “musical wishes come true,” and it included a pop-up activation aimed to target key millennial cultural influencers. Among the 50 invitees were the season’s most relevant editors—those creating holiday gift guides, consumer tech roundups and curators of “best of” lists. The program kicked off with a VIP event at the JBL store on Madison Avenue in New York in mid-November featuring artist Andy Grammer and special guest Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC. The event was hosted by iHeart Radio’s Z100’s Skeery Jones. Later, the space transitioned into a consumer activation, where attendees could make musical requests and enter to win sweepstakes. The media event packed a punch (even during a freak snowstorm) among the 50 in attendance, with more than 800 media stories published, 402 of which were holiday gift stories featuring the JBL LINK series (by WIRED, Forbes, Quartz, and more). All-in, the program generated 766 million impressions. Happy holidays.
Campaign: Next Horizon Gaming Client: AMD Agency: Freeman
AMD’s Next Horizon Gaming two-day product launch offered the press a media-rich setting in Beverly Hills with a variety of environments for conversation, deep-dives and details, as well as networking, dinners, sessions, breakouts and hands-on demos. Large-scale LEDs showcased new products, stats and AMD branding during the general sessions. AMD executives provided intimate tech explanations in small breakouts, and 20-person indoor and outdoor vignettes showcased the technology up-close-and-personal. Oh, and a closing rooftop event with city skyline views was yet another opportunity to discuss details with AMD engineers and specialists.
Campaign: JBL Fest 2018 Client: Harman International Agency: Anthemic
Harman Industries is a global tech company with a portfolio of 36 brands in four distinct divisions: consumer audio products, professional audio solutions, connected car, and next gen connected services. Its brand JBL competes in a crowded sector, where it needs to fight hard to win over and grow brand love from its Gen X and millennial and target consumers. To create an immersive, pop-culture-inspired press event, the brand created a space where it knew its target would feel comfortable: a festival. JBL Fest was an epic three-day celebration of “entertainment and sound” offering concurrent tracks that engaged four groups—lifestyle press, cultural influencers, entertainment press and marketing and industry press—with targeted messages. JBL Fest took place in October before the holiday season kicked off in Las Vegas, and through a media partnership with E!, the brand was able to make 18 content posts on E! News’ IG feed to reach 9.3 million impressions. The event overall generated 2.65 billion impressions, a 292 percent increase over 2017, and coverage in People, Elite Daily and more. The media impact set internal records with all-time Q4 highs for total press influencers, brand engagement and social conversations.
Campaign: Elevate Summit 2018 Client: Uber Agency: Infinity Marketing Team
Uber Elevate each year continues to explore solutions to traffic congestion by gathering the world’s best and brightest in-demand aviation leaders in industry, government and academia to prepare for smarter cities and urban aviation. This task includes attracting more than 600 visionaries and technologists who could make driverless flying cars a reality. Held this past year at Skirball Center in Los Angeles, the program included hands-on experiences, three stages, panel discussions, presentations, shared learnings, and networking events. The highlight of the event: a partnership with Bell Helicopter that involved a virtual reality ride where attendees sat inside a full-scale eVTOL vehicle to experience the feeling of flying over traffic.
Campaign: Infinity Screening Film Festival Client: Samsung Agency: Iris
Ahead of the launch of the new Galaxy S10 phone, Samsung created a training program to educate the Verizon salesforce about the new product, why it’s special and how to sell it. Taking a page from the S10’s oversized display designed to stream movies, Samsung created a film festival for the 450 attendees. The Infinity Screening Film Festival was held in three cities, in the iconic theaters of New York’s Carnegie Hall, Atlanta's Center Stage and Denver's UA Imax. Samsung teamed up with YouTube digital influencer Bad Lip Reading to create spoof short films inspired by famous movies to illustrate each Galaxy S10 feature, like a scary movie about the horror of running out of battery. After the film screening, field sales managers and trainers held sessions with hands-on demos and helped attendees develop their sales skills. Top performers received a Samsung “Oscar” they could display their devices on. Design details included a red carpet, step-and-repeat, “paparazzi,” themed movie posters, candy and popcorn. Attendees were also sent to Verizon stores around the country to help train those who couldn’t attend the events. As a follow-up, reps were sent materials in the form of movie posters and kits with QR codes for additional online training. Bravo.
Campaign: Easy Street Tour Client: Google Agency: Grow Marketing
Google’s Easy Street Tour educates 1,000 retail sales associates (RSAs) around the globe on how Google Hardware enables personalization through the Google Assistant. Taking place over the course of a year, the tour leverages interactive demos, customized for each new audience, that showcase use-case scenarios for the product. Google built vignettes to bring it all to life, like a kitchen space that showed how Google Assistant can help with morning routines and cooking scenarios; a living room focused on entertainment and security from the couch; and a connected outdoor environment called Pixel Park, featuring a family-friendly clubhouse and a product counter containing Google and Nest devices attendees could try out.
Campaign: Work/Life Lounge Client: American Express Agency: We're Magnetic
In an effort to show appreciation for its top corporate customers, American Express brought a one-day pop-up to 14 client offices in three cities. The event series was designed to build relationships with clients, help companies energize their employees and infuse learning and fun into the workday. Approximately 3,000 customers experienced the pop-up, themed around the idea of the blurring line between work and life, the topic of American Express’s new advertising campaign. The pop-up’s entrance resembled the front door of a home. A hospitality area featured a magnet refrigerator wall that, when rotated, became a kitchen counter for treats. Desks folded out of walls for client managers to field questions on Corporate Card benefits. A swag wall showcased rotating cubes with work/life headlines, along with physical mailboxes and email inboxes that gave employees a chance to win office slippers, bento boxes and reusable tea bags. Attendees triggered additional content by engaging with certain objects like cookbooks on a shelf that revealed animations detailing nearby locations that accept American Express cards. And on the façade of a Centurion living wall, the American Express Centurion logo popped out of a cuckoo clock when the doorbell was rung. The experience wrapped with a team family photo station stocked with oversized props.
Campaign: Justworks Coffee Client: Justworks Agency: Circus Maximus
Payroll service provider Justworks wanted to build brand awareness and market its services to a larger client base. Its secret weapon: coffee. The company popped up a mobile coffee truck in Philadelphia and Los Angeles to get to know local businesses. Consumers were served Justworks-branded cold brew, spun a prize wheel for swag like tote bags and mints, and heard brand reps discuss services, like favorable pricing and fitness centers. The trucks poured more than 5,000 cups of coffee to 2,500 business customers, and earned five million social media impressions. They were also instrumental in helping Justworks raise an additional $40 million in funding.
Campaign: Microsoft Store Annual Meeting Client: Microsoft Agency: ImagiCorps
Microsoft Store celebrated its 10th year just in time for the Microsoft Store Annual Meeting where 465 store leaders gathered at The Phoenician luxury resort in Scottsdale, AZ, under the theme “A New Decade: Defining Our Future.” In addition to providing leadership messaging and customer engagement strategies, the event needed be a foundation to discuss the success and growth of Microsoft Store for the next 10 years. The week-long program included mainstage keynotes, team-building activities, workshops and breakout sessions, as well as an immersive Experiences Expo. In the expo, attendees tested products and engaged in demos within settings designed to align with their use-case scenarios—like retail, home, office, education and gaming. In fact, a family of custom gaming fixtures about to be deployed to New York and London flagship stores made their debut in the expo, including Esports Gaming Pods, shoutcaster desks and non-competitive gaming stations. The overall design took a backseat to the product innovations that were ultimately the stars of the event. Clean, modern lines were incorporated throughout the open floorplan, which allowed for flexible exhibits and demo experiences. Lighting towers helped define distinctive environments with some rising to 16 feet tall. Also uplifting: the 1,925 impressions generated by attendees from the week.
Campaign: National Sales Meeting Client: Kowa Pharmaceuticals Agency: LEO Events
In what-will-they-do-next fashion, Kowa Pharmaceuticals treated 350 members of its salesforce to a “Top Gun”-inspired experience at this year’s National Sales Meeting. (It even took place in San Diego, where the movie was filmed.) In addition to education and content designed to “Engage and Elevate,” touchpoints included digital registration, a photomosaic experience, an off-site event at USS Midway that included flight simulations, fireworks, live entertainment and—in the words of the brand, “you guessed it”—a Tom Cruise impersonator. Attendees enjoyed premiums like dog tags and a photo booth with aviator sunglasses and Maverick’s jet pilot leather jacket to slip into. We feel the need.
Campaign: General Managers Conference Client: Ulta Beauty Agency: CPG Agency
Ulta Beauty’s General Managers Conference is designed to set the 2,000 store managers in attendance on a path of positive store sales goals. Quashing the notion of the mandatory corporate meeting completely, Ulta Beauty created an “Ulta World” attendees were immersed into the moment they stepped off the plane. At the heart of the event technology was the Ulta Beauty event app, which, beyond the traditional benefits of balancing information with networking features, was designed for “creative collisions.” As part of the steady transition away from paper usage at the event, the brand set a goal to uncover new uses for the app. This included pre-communication to get people excited to be on-site, push notifications with logistical information, and prompts for attendees to share photos and videos ahead of the show, which provided Ulta a database with a large amount of user generated content—which the team then displayed on the big screen during walk-in and throughout interstitials at the actual event. And then there were the surprises, like Kris Jenner joining a morning session, or Ludacris performing at the evening party, or the truck loads of free, top-tier products to take home after the show. Attendee ratings on the “overall experience” jumped to a net increase of 104.2 percent year-over-year. Beautiful.
Campaign: On the Move to Midtown Client: NCR Agency: Experience Willow
Office migrations can be a complex but exciting time for employees, which is why NCR marked the opening of its Global Headquarters Campus in Atlanta, (the result of six offices consolidating into one), with a campaign that would ease the transition for its 2,600 employees. “On the Move to Midtown” featured a Midtown Scavenger Hunt via the Strayboots app that allowed employees to test new transit and commuter routes expense-free as well as explore 31 points of interest surrounding the Campus. Day-one orientation and guided tours took place throughout the transition that included volunteers, way-finding and must-knows and welcome gift bags valued at more than $250.
Campaign: Digital Transformation Showcase Client: Microsoft Agency: ImagiCorps
Microsoft’s Digital Transformation Showcase was designed to showcase its products and services for its top 175 enterprise, government and industry clients throughout North America. The strategy, which had to be scalable, educational and memorable, was to first set up shop in Microsoft’s Washington, D.C., office where it could capitalize on the regional executive and key government-influencer client base. The experience focused on Microsoft’s products and services through storytelling demos aligned with software and hardware products from each of Microsoft’s industry focuses. The brand transformed a large 3000-square-foot demo room into a guided tour experience with wall panels with full-bleed, and edge-wrapped graphics. The result was a linear pathway created for attendees to experience the guided tour. After an entryway experience that provided context, the multi-phased tour brought to life scenarios within the themes of empowering citizens, smart infrastructure, intelligent health and human services, education and jobs, and public safety and national security. One phase demonstrated how cloud innovations can help in the areas of economics, education and sustainability. Another highlighted the impact of cloud innovations on military personnel, logistics and intelligence. The experience welcomed 543 attendees and 200 organizations to the space, including strategic federal accounts, media outlets and congressional committees.
Campaign: New Rules Summit Client: The New York Times Agency: FIRST
The New York Times’ inaugural New Rules Summit brought together 230 leaders and VIPs to discuss creating inclusive cultures that empower women. Hosted by Times journalists and influencers and held at 1Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, the event included speaker sessions and smaller workshops for networking and solutions-building. The venue’s lobby served as a pre-function area and hosted sponsorship activations tied to a women-in-the-workplace theme, including a photo opp with a replica of the SSGA Fearless Girl statue. The Times livestreamed five sessions on Facebook and three on Twitter, making it the brand’s most-streamed event ever. Highlights included Melinda Gates’ session, which reached 93,000 views, and America Ferrera’s, which garnered 98,000 views.
Campaign: Swell Client: Ripple Agencies: Charlie & Sprocket, ASTOUND Group
The annual Swell Conference from enterprise blockchain company Ripple brings together leaders in banking and blockchain interested in a global payments network. The company’s second event in 2018 attracted payments experts and industry luminaries to discuss trends, success stories of blockchain implementations and real-world blockchain use cases before an audience of approximately 1,000 in San Francisco. The two-day event offered 14 sessions featuring 32 speakers, an indoor lounge space for hors d’oeuvres and drinks prior to sessions and interactive components in the exhibit area, dubbed Ripple Way. In between sessions, attendees experienced interactive features detailing Ripple’s vision and perspective on the future of banking. Like the “Payments Today” exhibit, which showed the evolution of payment processing from the introduction of the shipping container in 1956 to the internet in the 1990s. Ripple lined up a roster of luminaries for fireside chats, including President Bill Clinton and Gene Sperling, National Economic Council director and National Economic advisor under Presidents Clinton and Obama. The entertainment was just as noteworthy. At the end of day two, award-winning rock band “The Counting Crows” capped off the evening, and a customer award reception honoring Blockchain Innovator Award winners concluded the event.
Campaign: Elevate Summit 2018 Client: Uber Agency: Infinity Marketing Team
The Uber Elevate Summit 2018, held at the 60,000-square-foot Skirball Center in Los Angeles assembled 1,200 aviation leaders in industry, government and academics to talk urban aviation—specifically, Uber Air, the brand’s vision of rideshare transportation featuring driverless flying cars. Uber showcased major advancements taking place, including a vision of an eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) vehicle made possible through Bell Helicopter’s virtual reality ride, a suite of software to help automate air traffic control from Elevate Cloud Services, and technical components of urban air travel, from carbon fiber structures to aviation battery packs to fast-charging technology.
Campaign: Z Club Client: Zerto Agency: Opus Agency
Software company Zerto wanted to create a rewards program to motivate sales staff to meet or exceed their sales goals. The result was the brand’s inaugural incentive program, Z Club, which took place at the luxurious island of St. Kitts. Those who qualified received kits containing branded luggage tags and an in-flight cocktail kit packaged in custom boxes. Attendees spent the first full day at the beach, the spa or playing a round of golf, with the option of continuing on to something more adrenaline-inducing, such as ziplining or a speedboat ride. The group convened nightly for team dinners, which featured local music talent and fireworks shows. At their first group meal, attendees received Tiffany & Co. jewelry, as well as other nightly gift drops in their hotel rooms. The program integrated corporate social responsibility into the trip as well with a community service project. Attendees assembled backpack kits for local students at the Irish Town Primary School using school supplies provided by Zerto. Lastly, the top-tier circle of the team’s highest achievers, the “Platinum Circle,” earned a day trip to the Island of St. Barth’s. The group flew into the island on charter planes and were then given keys to their own Mini Coopers with which to explore the island.
Campaign: Inspire | Healthcare Client: The Health Collaborative Agency: Dimalanta Design Group
Inspire | Healthcare, an awards program that honors the healthcare professionals in Greater Cincinnati, celebrates individuals and companies who are improving their communities through innovation. To bring the 2018 event theme “Healthy By Design to life,” students from the Cincinnati Arts & Technology Studio were invited to create art pieces that captured the spirit of the theme. The event’s custom-made awards incorporated design elements of the chosen venue’s architecture. Other local event touches include a popular, pre-program networking experience, recessed lighting within the reception room that changed colors to set the mood, an ambient jazz band playing in the background and a scenic overlook of the cityscape.
Campaign: Amp’d at INSIGHT Client: NetApp Agency: George P. Johnson
In contrast to the NetApp Insight technical and data management conference happening during the day, Amp’d at INSIGHT was a high-energy, localized evening event at the Cava Rondel venue in Barcelona themed around the iconic city’s neighborhoods. Approximately 2,200 attendees experienced the food and culture, architecture and a relaxed beach vibe. Among the experiences, attendees encountered a NetApp Wine Bottle art installation, giant interactive puppet street performers and Las Vegas DJ Kurt Joseph spinning tracks. They wandered through the exhibitions of the districts of Barcelona while sampling foods, drink and entertainment in each. Highlights included local artists’ creation of an intricate NetApp INSIGHT sand sculpture in real time, video face-mapping of iconic Spanish art and corporate branding and logos onto attendees faces, a video-mapped installation of the setting sun along the wall of the Cava Rondel venue, and a performance from The RPJ Band. The neighborhood exhibition spaces included: Eixample Crossing, a reimagined courtyard with street performers and an outdoor café serving bocadillos and patatas bravas; Sunset Beach with orange and purple lighting, swaying palm trees, lounge chairs and a water feature; the Filtered space with dramatic, Gaudi-inspired lighting effects to celebrate the city’s architecture; and Neon Gothic with neon signs and installations, buffets, a gallery and paella served to attendees.
Campaign: Winner Circle Client: T-Mobile Agency: Proscenium
T-Mobile’s Winner Circle celebration, which rewards and motivates top performers, typically takes place in Vegas. This year, the brand took its 655 winners to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to help support the island and its community. The event offered a town hall with executives and a surprise appearance from MLB player Carlos Beltran who received a company donation to support his youth baseball initiative. Days were filled with zip-line tours, snorkeling and a private tour of the Bacardi factory. At evening awards galas, winners were personally recognized up on stage. The special treatment continued with nightly room gift drops and an epic party starring DJ Khaled.
Best General Session Experience (Under 1,000 attendees)
Campaign: Outdoor University Client: Dick's Sporting Goods Agency: Retailcomm
Dick’s Sporting Goods had tried it all in the name of product training. Digital seminars. Emailed memos. Top-down information sharing. In-store trainings. And more. The brand switched gears when it gathered together 250 store representatives for a hands-on experience dubbed Outdoor University that would, quite literally, give them an outdoor playground to get personal hands-on experience with boats, bikes and other outdoor goods the retailer sells. The bulk of the event took place near company headquarters in Corapolis, PA, at Moraine State Park, along a scenic lake—which meant no disruptions, early wake-ups or long rides to get to an experience. Sizzling burgers hot off the grill greeted the attendees when they stepped off the bus. GT, Schwinn and Nishiki provided bike assembly training and riding. Pelican gave water sports instruction and kayaking lessons. Blackstone dished out savory treats from its portable outdoor grills. All in, 18 brand vendors participated and brought products on-site for employees to demo. Associates also had the opportunity to purchase sample products at the end of the training, with proceeds going to Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation. From the technical education to the networking to the Vitamin D, employees called the experience a “career highlight.”
Each year, Supportworks brings together its dealer network of more than 130 foundation and concrete repair contracting companies for product launches, thought leadership, best-practice-sharing, team-building, recognition and celebration, and personal wellness activities for the 828 attendees. This year, the event in Omaha leaned on touchpoints large and small, from personal handwritten notes to farewell boxes to 210-feet of screens that encapsulated the audience during the general session. The 240-square-foot main ballroom space later transformed in a matter of hours from a theater-style space to an upscale awards banquet with a plated three-course meal—then back to an “under-the-sea” dance party later that evening.
Best General Session Experience (1,000-5,000 attendees)
Campaign: Global Partner Summit Client: Dell Technologies Agency: InVision Communications
Dell Technologies’ Global Partner Summit takes place during Dell Technologies World and it includes partner-specific sessions, including breakouts and interactive labs that can earn partners technical certifications to advance their IT skills and knowledge. It also includes a much-anticipated two-hour general session that this year proved how powerful a well-produced walk-in experience can be. The theme “ROAR” tied into a partner award trip location to be announced during the session. Attendees first entered a soundscape walk-in experience that included strong, moving imagery and upbeat cinematic music, all depicting scenes and nature visuals from Sin City to the African Savannahs on a 120-foot-wide screen. Soon, the music faded and a solo singer appeared on stage, shouting the first words of the “Circle of Life” from Disney’s “The Lion King.” A choir then joined him on stage, and they continued the iconic song together. The music then transitioned into pop-singer Katy Perry’s “Roar.” Later, to announce the location of the partners’ award, the “President’s Circle,” which is a trip for the top salespeople, Dell created a Roar-O-Meter that encouraged the audience to cheer and applaud louder and louder until at the peak moment, the South African destination was revealed. Cue the slow clap.
Campaign: National LINC Client: TD Ameritrade Agency: Proscenium
TD Ameritrade at its National LINC conference didn’t activate just any general session. No, it transformed that time into a “Shark Tank”-style live judging experience for its inaugural fintech competition, “Innovation Quest.” Prior to the conference, three finalists were selected at the conference, each awarded $25,000. Then at the show, they were invited to go before the live audience and judging panel to compete for an additional $25,000, a panel that included Robert Herjavec of “Shark Tank.” Each competitor had five minutes to pitch their idea as the audience cast their vote from an app. The winner later reported the experience had “changed his life.”
Campaign: Western Regional Round Table Client: SAP Agency: In-house
SAP’s Western Region Round Table is attended by government agencies for the State of California that represent a huge ROI opportunity for the brand. But it had used the same format year after year, and needed a refresh. Moreover, SAP’s goal this year was to introduce a new account executive to the 100 guests in attendance. The solution: to program short and engaging discussions during a morning general session followed by a three-course progressive lunch energized with speed dating-like table rounds in which attendees discussed topics of their choice. During the progressive lunch, speakers and panelists from the morning session had their own tables, which allowed customers to gain valuable face-time with them. Short breaks in between the three topic sessions offered time for people to engage and network, and the topics discussed at the tables were short but relevant. The refreshed format saved money. Eliminating breakouts and a cocktail reception shortened the day by four hours, and SAP was able to charge more for sponsorships since they were offered speaking slots at the rounds. The brand closed deals at agencies that previously weren’t interested. And the new executive went on to do additional account-based activities, further cementing her as the new fresh face of SAP.
Campaign: Greenhouse OPEN Client: Greenhouse Agency: productionglue
Greenhouse produces a software suite that allows talent acquisition teams to become more inclusive in their hiring approach. The company had taken a year off from its annual event and was looking to deliver a more immersive and inspiring conference in 2018. Enter Greenhouse OPEN at Pier 60 in New York City. The event featured speakers from Visa, Warby Parker, Fortune magazine and SoulCycle, forums about how to combat unconscious bias and discussions tackling the most impactful HR topics of the year. Large, colorful graphics designed by Greenhouse added to the event’s cohesive theme and transformed the venue’s windows into visual gardens of colorful foliage patterns.
Campaign: Oath NewFront Client: Verizon Media Agency: FIRST
To engage potential advertisers, clients and industry press during the digital media newfronts, Oath needed to showcase its vision of storytelling across vertical video. It did so by revamping the newfront format with 13 immersive activations across AOL owned brands for 1,450 people at New York’s Pier 26. The theme, “This is an Uprising,” was woven through every part of event, from digital invitations, to graphic posters, name badges, content, music, run of show and the venue itself—a raw space that was transformed from a slab of concrete into a street festival. The journey began with passage through a tunnel lit up by blue LED lighting and dozens of monitors that surrounded guests with energizing music and video content from Oath’s brands. Graffiti-style street posters lined the journey, conveying the Uprising theme. To keep energy high throughout the presentations from celebrities and executives, five takeover moments were staged about 30 minutes apart, each kicking off with a countdown on the screens. Performances included a pep rally, a New York City step-team and bucket drummers, parkour stuntmen jumping over crowds, eight women in business suits dancing across all four stages to Jeanelle Monae’s “Make Me Feel,” and the finale: all performers together accompanied by an impromptu performance by host and emcee Jamie Foxx.
Campaign: National Parts and Service Meeting 2019 Client: Mercedes-Benz Agency: Cadence
Mercedes-Benz needed to refresh its annual Parts and Services Managers Meeting, increase engagement, cohesiveness, impact and ROI. Catering to highly-seasoned meeting attendees at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, the brand found success through recharging the general session with large-scale graphics and a 192-foot, panorama projection surface; a kabuki drop reveal, which served as a transition from the general session to the trade show floor; an enhanced event app with personalized agendas for attendees; augmented reality experiences on the show floor; and enhanced lead generation for exhibitors through QR codes. All in, 4408 leads were retrieved, a 22.4 percent increase year over year.
Campaign: Infinity Screening Film Festival Client: Samsung Agency: Iris
Given the long list of products available for consumers on Verizon’s shelves, Samsung needed to differentiate the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy S10 from the rest by educating the salesforce on how to sell the product. Since training programs can be pret-ty boring, the brand created the Infinity Screening Film Festival, a traveling training program for sales reps, complete with short spoof films created by popular YouTubers Bad Lip Reading. The movies were based on Hollywood films—a nod to the S10’s oversized display designed to stream movies. The festival drew 450 trainees to New York’s Carnegie Hall, Atlanta's Center Stage and Denver's UA Imax, and the films dramatized features of the S10. Field sales managers and trainers held sessions afterward with hands-on demos. The best performers received a Samsung “Oscar” they could display their phones on. Samsung ensured that the film festival felt legit, from providing a step-and-repeat and photographers posing as paparazzi, to offering candy and popcorn. After the event, reps received materials in the form of movie posters and kits with QR codes to drive additional online training content. Results showed a 16 percent increase in deep knowledge of the Galaxy S10 with 90 percent of participants feeling “highly confident” in speaking about the device’s features.
Campaign: North America Dealer Meeting Client: Daimler Trucks Agency: Henry V
Daimler Trucks’ biennial North America Dealer Meeting, which provides brand and product updates to internal employees and dealership personnel, brought together the company’s Freightliner and Western Star brands in one forum for the first time. In order to knock the company’s biggest meeting to date out of the park, the brand transformed New Orleans’ Superdome into a general session space with eight breakout rooms and additional breakout spaces throughout the club box and dining areas. Approximately 1,200 attendees from four countries descended upon the Superdome. Presentations engaged attendees with an in ultra-wide format on an expansive 70-foot by 15-foot LED wall. Six truck models, including the market’s first electric garbage disposal vehicle, and a deconstructed engine completed the main stage set design, fusing the sensibilities of both the Freightliner and Western Star brands. A special speaker, Super Bowl champion and NFL legend Peyton Manning, graced the general session stage to much fanfare and closed out the general session with a keynote and Q&A. The results: 83 percent of attendees felt the meeting was useful time away from the office, and the same percentage left the Dealer Meeting with a clear understanding of Daimler Trucks North America’s objectives moving forward.