Baby Boomers often say that if you remember the ’60s, you weren’t there. The same could be said of the first day at EMS—but minus the psychedelic influences. Between the morning workshops, the afternoon keynote and sessions, a cocktail hour, the Ex Awards Gala and the after party, we weren’t sure who would make it to the Thursday morning sessions. But we should have known—event marketers are a hearty crew. A few too many drinks and a late-late night with friends and colleagues? All part of the job description, mama.
Despite the fun that was had, Thursday morning started off with a full house as our morning keynoter, Julia Mize, VP-Experiential Marketing at Anheuser-Busch, gave attendees an exclusive look at how the 162-year-old brand has evolved and transformed its live engagement efforts.
“We know at Anheuser-Busch that drinking a beer is never just about the brand or the name on the label. It is a very, very social interaction. Who you are with, where you are, and what you are doing all contribute to the taste of that beer. All these factors play a role in the feeling the consumer attaches to our brand, and the same can be said about our approach to experiential marketing. That is why we are constantly inventing and refreshing old campaigns, to make sure every interaction we have with the beer drinkers is extremely impactful,” she said.
Anheuser-Busch enjoys a rich legacy in the beer brewing business. Still, she said, “No matter how strong your foundation is or how unique your story is, every company and every marketer must stay motivated to find new and compelling ways to connect with the consumer and to stay in step with their ever evolving taste perceptions, and in our case, drink preferences.”
Luke Zaientz, VP-Event Marketing at Match.com took the stage at lunch for the second keynote of the day, and gave event marketers a behind-the-scenes look at how and why an online-only brand ventured headlong into live events— from meet-ups in bars, ball parks to Banana Republic stores and practically everywhere in between.
“We realized we have people who like to operate and connect in different ways, and thought about what we could do to help our members out and help our company at the same time,” Zaientz said.
So, the brand had an idea to throw parties. The first attempt was so successful that Match.com formed a new business and a new offering for members called Stir.
“We found an interesting correlation—if you have a longer event, a deeper community gets built around it,” he said. “People build Facebook pages, they connect with people ahead of the event and keep track afterwards. Match.com had been a place to connect in the past, but there hadn’t been a lot of community.”
The morning and afternoon featured 32 educational sessions ranging from Intel’s rules for connecting with the college crowd and tips for engaging with EDM fans, to gamification strategies and measuring retail lift through events.
The women in the industry got to take part in a special Paint Bar activity that gave them the chance to grab a wine glass and drink from it in one hand, while painting a wine bottle in the other. One attendee told us it was a great way to “unleash some stress and creativity at the same time.” We’ll say cheers to that!
All attendees convened for a happy hour networking event and then it was off to the Salt Lake Dine-Around—EMS’s first-ever group restaurant crawl where attendees could book their choice of 16 local food establishments holding tables just for attendees.
Once again, we recap the best thoughts of the day with our day-two review:
“Doing more with less is always going to be the challenge. It means making hard decisions. It isn’t easy, but it is achievable.” —Anita Blackwood, Director, Global Event Marketing at AMD
At the brand’s U.S. Dealer event: “We put authenticity through the filter of everything we did. It had to be real at every single level. Real isn’t perfect and perfect isn’t real. We can’t fool our audience. What the speakers said was very real and from the heart.” —Sean Zielinski, Director-Regional and Dealer Communication, Harley-Davidson
Connecting with the college crowd: “When someone says ‘demo,’ that is the kiss of death. Just give them a computer and they’ll know what to do with it.” —Laurie Koehler, Senior Consumer Marketing Manager, Intel
“You have to have a form of technology to even begin to interact with friends these days. The practice of knocking on someone’s door—I don’t think I’ve ever done that.” —Andrew, student at University of Utah
“It’s not even about the language anymore. It’s like anything else in marketing: it’s about knowing your consumer. It’s not an ‘Hola’ or a ‘Hello.’ It’s both.” —Olivia Vela, Director-Multicultural Marketing, at Dr Pepper Snapple Group
“One key thing we’ve learned is never underestimate the power of free stuff and planning your queues and lines around it.” —Ryan Fitzpatrick, VP, Ncompass International
“What we found was that customers were wearing out the carpet around the front desk. They weren’t experiencing the stores. They weren’t experiencing Verizon; they were experiencing a counter. We began to realize that we had a much larger opportunity here.” —Domenico D’Ambrosio, Executive Director-National Retail Operations, Verizon
“Millennials expect ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ activities. And that changes the way they view the world. It’s what they’re used to.” —Darren Ross, EVP-Solutions at Fluent
“It was most important to find an [EDM] artist with an authentic link to the community and to our brand; that would be excited to work with us and feel attached to us, none of which had to do with dollar bills.” —Alain Mazer, Global Director-P.R., Razer