Multisensory Experiences, College Marketing and Employee Appreciation
Day Two of the Experiential Marketing Summit kicked off on the early-bird side for the event industry’s yogis as top Denver area yoga instructors led attendees through downward dogs and salutations in an optional morning networking activity at 6:30.
For those who partied late into the evening at the 2016 Ex Awards Gala (Did you catch the winners list?), there was time to sleep in a bit before breakfast and the start of the first full day of sessions.
At 8:30, Adam Harter, vp-consumer engagement at Pepsi, took the stage for the keynote, taking us all through the beverage giant’s experiential portfolio, from VR-infused multisensory dining experiences to a Super Bowl 50 multi-layered concert venue to its innovative F!ZZ concept.
There were more than 20 sessions led by brand-side instructors throughout the day. Mike Trovalli, vp-events at SAP, went “unplugged” for a discussion on how the tech giant continues to reinvent its b-to-b portfolio. Mike Kratochwill, senior director of marketing at Reebok, offered a rare glimpse into the athletic brand’s CrossFit Games sponsorship. Lauren Probyn, director-events at Tinder, offered insight into how the digital brand goes “live” with events. And then there was that cannabis marketing session by Merry Jane Media on the rapidly evolving cannabis space.
At 4:45, women in the industry met for the Women in Events + Dress for Success Mixer which this year had a philanthropic twist. After an inspirational kickoff message, attendees gathered around tables to mix, mingle, sip wine and stuff career bags with necessities and goodies for job-seeking women in Denver. Many connections were made among peers under the “women helping women” theme. Let’s raise a glass to Sparks who coproduced the event.
The day wrapped with Happy Hour, sponsored by TentCraft, and another opportunity to hit the Solutions Center. Afterward, some 70 marketers who secured a seat ahead of time set off for the optional add-on networking dinner at Marlowe’s. We hope it was a filling one, because afterward the most epic of events open to all attendees (who dared) kicked into gear: Motive Mile High Mayhem at EMS. And did we mention it was Cinco de Mayo? C’mon!
From 9:00 to midnight, EMS attendees with special Mayhem Mugs in hand (that unlocked free drinks, no less) met at Motive’s headquarters and then bar-hopped through Denver’s up-and-coming industrial River North Art District “RiNo” neighborhood. It all wrapped up at 11:30 at Ratio Beerworks bar for last call and a final shot of tequila with the EMS and Motive crews. What happens in Denver, doesn’t stay in Denver.
Feeling the FOMO? You should. Not to worry, we’ve compiled quotes and insights from Day Two for you. Check it out below, and be sure to tune in tomorrow for our final recap.
THEY SAID IT: EMS 2016 DAY TWO
“If you listen to your customers, they will tell you what they want. The problem is no one listens to them. You have to have conversations with them and then come back with a report based on that conversation. Listening to customers is driving what we are doing.”
—Mike Trovalli, vp-events, SAP
“Typically in a scotch tasting it’s an educational event. You sit down and you’ve got drams in front of you and a tasting mat and someone will give you some guidance. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But we knew if we did it the same way as some of the other established [single malt scotch whisky] brands, we’d be forgotten. We needed to be creative in order to break through, and immersive theater was the perfect forum—disruptive, unconventional and growing in popularity.”
—Bryce Goodwin, senior brand manager, Bacardi
“Our main objective was to differentiate Holiday Inn Express from the competition and spread the gospel of the good news of this pancake machine that folks really are crazy about, taking it out on the road to reach the next generation of hotel stayers. It went over like gangbusters and drew a lot of attention to us and amplified what the brand is all about—a nice place to stay with free hot breakfast—in a simple message.”
—Seth Freeman, director-marketing, Holiday Inn Express
“[In holding appreciation events for employees], aim for that wow factor, that moment in time that creates a reaction, something that touches them personally so that they want to work on that team, then build on that and don’t lose the opportunity to keep the employees engaged. Keep the momentum going.”
—Kathie Gaddy, senior manager-corporate communications, Cisco
“We needed to start thinking about who are these attendees, what are their personas, what are their concerns—not just in their job roles but as people—and how can we deliver value against those needs.”
—Paul Salinger, vp-marketing at Oracle
“I saw how experiential engagements can really make a brand connection. More than you could ever do just on social, more than you could do in advertising communications, and it really allowed us to tap into some other things too…We came [to Super Bowl] not to make noise, but to make connections, and I think at the end of the day we did both.”
—Mark Viden, vp-brand marketing at Dignity Health
“Our goal throughout all of this is changing the way college athletics partners with brands. We’ve seen how it has happened in the past, we know the other brands, we don’t have to talk about them—our objective is, how fast can we make this into a two-way street for both parties involved.”
—Beth Malafa Kurman, director-global events, Under Armour
Three lessons on combating consumer apathy from keynoter Adam Harter, vp-consumer engagement, Pepsi:
1. Culture is not a spectator sport.
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast. You have to get out there and live it and breathe it. So we made the commitment to be cultural experts.”
2. Lead with design.
“This is all about driving the experience… Never allow anyone to decide who you are and what you stand for, and what you can and cannot be.”
3. Set creativity on fire.
According to Harter, the advent of smartphones gives everyone the opportunity to be a creator these days. He encouraged letting consumers unleash their inner creativity by creating bold engagements that allow them to express themselves.