Aaaaaand we’re off!
The 2018 Experiential Marketing Summit (May 14-16) kicked off Monday in San Francisco. And whether you’re a first timer or an EMS pro, there’s plenty new to experience this year. For the first time in its history, EMS sessions, events and workshops took place across not one, but two venues—the Marriott Marquis and the historic Warfield Theatre.
First stop for the adventurous, though, was a sold-out morning excursion to Alcatraz, that infamous island penitentiary, home to some of the nation’s most notorious criminals from the years of 1934 to 1963.
Also brand new to the program this year: the EMS Executive Forum on Event Strategy coproduced with Opus, a half-day pre-conference exclusively for client-side marketers. Held at the Warfield and featuring luncheon speaker Ariel Kelman, vp-worldwide marketing at Amazon Web Services, the event drew a senior-level crowd who traded secrets of successful event strategies, data trends, digital amplification and more.
Concurrently, over at the Marriott from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. were a series of workshops on the hottest topics in event marketing. “Festival University” was a deep dive into the festivalization of events, from engaging attendees to landing sponsorship deals to creating a security checklist. Another covered the latest innovations, best practices and data surrounding artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality. Those up for a b-to-b events field trip embarked on a bus to Oracle’s headquarters, where attendees gleaned insights on the software company’s forward-thinking event strategies and portfolio from its brand masterminds. And for the newbies, the Experiential Marketing 101 workshop gave a rapid-fire intro on the topic, covering the basics, like trends, program types and the future of the biz.
Post workshops, there was an orientation and a mixer for first-time EMS attendees at the Highmark Hub, while conference veterans spent the first official hang of the summit at the opening reception. Another highlight: Hotel Volition, an immersive hospitality experience by Volition, featuring surprise and delight experiences and live theater (pictured up top).
At 6 p.m., a group of 50 baseball fans set out to AT&T Park to watch the Giants take on the Reds. But for the competitive set, the big-ticket event Monday night was the Ex Awards gala and after-party at the Warfield, celebrating the best campaigns of the year across 24 categories. This year the Grand Ex—that mother of all experiential marketing recognition—went to State Farm and The Marketing Arm for the Neighborhood of Good campaign. Check out the full winner’s list here.
Another surprise: EM unveiled the app Volley, an innovative new technology that lets attendees hack into an event’s high-def live video feed and post high-quality snippets of the feed on digital platforms. Amplification without sacrificing quality. BOOM.
That enough for you? We didn’t think so. We’ve got two more days packed with content, fun and surprises. Stay tuned as we return tomorrow with another recap of EMS 2018 for day two. And make sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more show highlights.
THEY SAID IT: EMS 2018 DAY ONE
“Think about the moment [attendees] are expecting to feel when they come to the festival… they are experience-driven people who are coming to festivals in this day and age, and what you bring to the table has to be unique or a major value-add.”
—Kailene Horlitz, Senior Account Director, Infinity Marketing Team
“In experiential, I always ask why do you want to do virtual reality and where do you want to do it… Identifying those two [answers] is very important because at the end of the day, it really comes down to emotional connections. Emotional connections in VR are some of the strongest you can create if you harness the power correctly.”
—Joe Lucchese, Principal, Creator, Pro-Ject
“All human beings crave these communal experiences. It’s referred to as a ‘collective effervescence,’ which means that “feelings amplified when humans are engaging in communal experiences.”
—Jessica Heasley, Content Director, Event Marketer