Day two of EMS in San Francisco began with the 5K run at 6:30 a.m. for the early risers who like to combine networking with fitness. If you partied too much at the Ex Awards the night before, you had until 9 a.m. to gear up for the first general session at the Warfield Theatre. Another new twist to EMS this year: We offered three, back-to-back can’t-miss general sessions, experienced altogether as a group.
First up was a look at Samsung’s new experiential playbook from vp-consumer experience Zach Overton, followed by a chat with three Under Armour execs about the brand’s innovative campaigns from an event, branding and social perspective—Kelley Walton, head of global experiential marketing, Erin Wendell, head of global communications and brand campaigns, Jack Daley, head of social media strategy. Citigroup’s svp-global event technology & operations Sean McBrien took the stage next in a fireside chat.
After the general sessions, attendees got a quick refreshment recharge at 12:15 p.m. from sponsor spingo, and then it was onto noshing and networking at lunch. At 1:30 p.m. the afternoon sessions began, covering a broad range of topics from boosting dwell time at festivals from CLIF bars to Soundcloud’s social media amplification with pop-up concerts to State Farm’s engagement-rich volunteerism. Another round at 2:30 p.m. offered Airbnb insights on using a city as an event venue and Drone Racing League’s creative sponsorships, among others.
Next, a quick snack break, and then, more content including EM’s 35 Under 35, the next generation of experiential marketers, coproduced by NVE Experience, and the annual Women in Events mixer featuring an inspiring discussion from bestselling author Wendy Sachs, an event powered by Sparks.
Come 5 p.m. it was time for a group happy hour, while first-timers enjoyed a mixer in the Highmark Hub. For the aspiring mixologists, 10-minute lessons on mastering the perfect Old Fashioned took place in the Highmark Hub as well. Capping off the day was the official EMS party at nearby club Temple featuring DJ Ruckus, drinks and of course, dancing. We’ll say it: this industry’s got moves.
THEY SAID IT: EMS 2018 DAY TWO
“Differentiation is key. There are going to be tons of people that are entering this space of experiential and rightfully so. There is real material gain and you can truly connect… But if you don’t create an experience that makes people stop and love it, you are throwing your money away. Surprise and delight is critical. It ties into differentiating. One of the greatest things you can do at a festival is what people are not expecting.”
—Steve Raizes, SVP-Operations and Strategy, Viacom.
“If you want strong brand advocates, there needs to be a relationship. Trust is the foundation of strong relationships and is earned over time. With enough time your story becomes their story.”
—Joey Steger, Director-Field Marketing, CLIF Bar and Co.
“If you’re a doer, a machine is going to be doing your job. You need to be a strategist.”
—Sean McBrien, SVP-Global Event Technology & Operations, Citigroup
“There’s so much noise that if you can’t stand out it’s probably not worth the investment. And you have to tailor your experience to the audience.”
—Shawn Silverman, SVP-Brand Marketing & Events, Comedy Central
“The way we look at influencers today is they’re a dying breed. We need to change the game. It’s no longer authentic. You know it’s a pay-to-play situation. We’re trying to lean on our influencers as co-creators. I think we forget they need us as much as we need them.”
—Diana Pavlov, Senior Director-Global Entertainment Marketing, Marriott International
On today’s changing, saturated media landscape: “Brands are always talking to consumers.” The importance of experiential is even greater—particularly for the younger set. “We know that the in-person experience has become more important to the Gen Z and millennials.”
—Kelley Walton, Head of Global Experiential Marketing, Under Armour
“It’s important to make sure we’re providing a peek behind the curtain experience.”
—Erin Wendell, Head of Global Communications and Brand Campaigns, Under Armour
“We’re not competing against other brands, we’re competing against everything.”
—Jack Daley, Head of Social Media Strategy, Under Armour
“It’s important to try and connect to people at home. I challenge myself to incorporate live-stream at every event we do. It can go a really long way. Live-streaming is something we’re trying to do globally.”
—Corbin Bourne, Global Event Producer, Electronic Arts
“You want to be able to do something that’s very authentic and say this is who we are and this is why we belong in this space, so I would always encourage people to really start with the why—why are we here—and then from there, how to do it and when and the other things will fill in. If you’re grounded in your why and everyone, from the agency to the organization, knows what that why is, then you will start to develop a very authentic platform.”
—Mandy Laux, Sponsorship and Experiential Manager, State Farm
“Every single industry is changing, and what inspires me in my work is those people who think outside the box and are willing to say why don’t we try it—we don’t have to change everything and put the bank on this new crazy thing, but let’s at least try it, it might not work but it might, and so I am inspired by people who are willing to take calculated risks and by those crazy thinkers who come up with ideas, and are willing to say them.”
—Erin McElroy, Program Director-Event & Digital Innovation, IBM
“There is no other iconic plane like the 747. This was a once in a lifetime thing—this was history. Of course, in the post mortem [after the Farewell Tour activation] we had this takeaway and that takeaway—we had our turbulence, but I would not have changed a thing. I think we did it the right way.”
—Anthony Levo, global employee engagement and event management, Delta Air Lines
“Internet communities alone aren’t enough. We are naturally social beings who need the occasional hall pass to break out of our cybercell at home or work so we can connect with our flock. And if there’s one experience that can transcendentally unite a flock, it’s the experience of wonder and awe in a group setting.”
—Chip Conley, author of “Emotional Equations” and Strategic Advisor-Hospitality and Leadership, Airbnb
“Consumers today are already floating around in an oversaturated marketing landscape—that means that today’s consumer is always on and expects the world to adapt to them on their own terms… So brands are having to expand their value proposition for consumers.”
—Zach Overton, VP-Brand Experience, Samsung/General Manager Samsung 837
“The number one thing you want to do these days is drive conversation… You have to pre-plan for some scenarios and be ready to drive conversation—but make sure it’s in a way that makes sense.”
—Ashley Zarinejad, Director-P.R. and Experiential, Pernod Ricard USA
“Failure is part of the journey. It’s like a notch in the belt; it’s part of the experience.”
—Wendy Sachs, Author, “Fearless and Free”