Attendees of the Experiential Marketing Summit are a hearty bunch, so it’s no surprise that Tuesday night’s Ex Awards Gala celebrations didn’t stop conferencegoers from waking up bright eyed and bushy tailed for day two of the show.
At 6:30 a.m., a 5K networking run across Vegas’ best run routes, and the first-ever Women in Events Boot Camp, both sponsored by Retailcomm, got attendees’ hearts pumping. Breakfast kicked off at 7:30 with plenty of eggs, fruit and pastry to keep everyone fueled up for the day ahead, while EMS newbies convened for a quick first-timer orientation focused on the agenda, choosing the right sessions and how to successfully navigate, network and get the most out of the event.
During the morning keynote, Monique Harrison, head of brand experience marketing at Mercedes-Benz USA, talked about the importance of risk-taking in marketing in the context of Mercedes-Benz and the luxury automotive market, which has grown and evolved, and whose audience today is diverse.
More EMS Coverage:
- EMS 2019: What You Missed on Day One
- The 2019 Ex Awards: Inside the Best Experiential Marketing Campaigns of the Year
“We need to take risks in what we’re doing everyday. We’re going to talk a little about some of the risks that we’re taking—some of them are a little bit uncomfortable and some are completely uncomfortable, and in full candor, I like the ones that are completely uncomfortable, because I think they give you the biggest reward.”
Brand experiences, from sponsorships to pop-ups, have bolstered brand engagement for Mercedes-Benz in an era when buying patterns are changing, and when auto show attendance and automotive dealership visits are in decline.
Harrison discussed important “gambles” the brand takes, whether it be aligning with a high-tech entertainment property like James Cameron’s “Avatar” film or investing in Formula E, or even, moving a company headquarters from New Jersey to Atlanta and holding the naming rights for the NFL stadium, Mercedes-Benz Stadium. And she emphasized the importance of teamwork and leadership for experiential marketing departments.
“We’re a slim team, they are out there running making sure that the magic is happening. When they’re making that magic happen, I’ve got to make sure I have the right seat at the table in our organization so that experiential is a priority. If I don’t do that, I’ve failed the rest of that team. If you’re in that role, make sure you’re always getting that seat at the table. We all know that saying: If you don’t have a seat at the table, you are the dinner. Let’s make sure experiential marketing is never the dinner.”
Following the keynote, a diverse array of sessions were in full swing, from whiteboard discussions to fireside chats to mega case studies to panel discussions with the industry’s leading marketers. Among the topics: Building Fandom With the Gen Z Audience, Events With Heart: Inside T-Mobile’s Last-Minute Decision to Host its Biggest Annual Event in Puerto Rico, How Microsoft Fosters Inclusion and Diversity at Events, From Scratch: How to Build a Mobile Tour and 6 Ways to Create Meaningful, Personalized B-to-B Experiences With Cisco Live.
After a morning of consuming brain food, it was time to ingest some real food at the Brand X Lunch where attendees learned all about the Brand X Challenge, co-produced with MAS Event + Design. The national student design competition is produced every four years to raise awareness for the experiential sector among college students. This year more than 250 teams signed up to design a mock experiential campaign for Uber. The winning campaign was announced live at the luncheon, where the victors were crowned and celebrated as the next generation of experiential marketers—and EMS attendees, of course.
Afternoon sessions, including the Dream Team 2019 Power Panel and the Women in Events Panel Discussion, got underway at 2:15. The Dream Team panel, sponsored by Freeman, brought to life Event Marketer’s March cover story as members joined to discuss top trends, best practices and the future of the event discipline. A new annual addition to EMS, the Women in Events panel, sponsored by Mosaic, featured the industry’s leading ladies sounding off on what’s working, what’s not and what lies ahead for smart, hardworking women in the industry.
The subsequent Women in Events Wine & Learn Mixer, co-produced with Sparks, kicked off at 4:45. The mixer featured the hilarious and insightful Christine Cashen, author of “The Good Stuff: Quips & Tips on Life, Love, Work and Happiness” who asked the women in attendance to contemplate how just a little bit of compassion has the power to change the world.
A first-timer happy hour, Tech Tours and micro sessions in the EventTech Village kept attendees engaged in the Solutions Hall beginning at 5:30, while those with enough energy left to spare at the end of the day participated in a 7 p.m. group SoulCycle class.
Later in the evening, the Women in Events Supper Club offered more opportunities for the women of EMS to connect and learn while enjoying a casual networking dinner at the Wheel House. Down the road, other conferencegoers were taking in the (sold out) Cirque Du Soleil The Beatles Love, one of the most highly-rated shows on the Las Vegas Strip.
They Said it: EMS 2019 Day Two
“Ultimately, working with world class talent helps us build brand love for Uber. If we’re just talking to our use base all day every day, they’re going to tune us out. If we’re saying the same shit it doesn’t really matter. So [with artists] if we can build really interesting experiences and really interesting content and have that delivered through our channels, that is super important for us and builds brand love.”
-Zach Zimmerman, Global Business Development Manager, Music and Entertainment, Uber
“We want to show holistically that we’re providing for everyone, and really our mission is quite frugal—we want to make you better.”
-Beth Malafa, Head of Global Events, Under Armour
“We kept the team small and made sure that everybody was talking every single day, so that we all knew what our priorities were, and we all knew how to move forward. And frankly, I think we were really surprised by how well our team got along over the course of those 12 weeks because it was an intense project, and so by having a small group of people that was interconnected in such a way, we were able to create really great work as a team, even though we were in 12 different offices. But we also spent an inordinate amount of budget on making sure that people were working together [physically] in a room.”
-Andrew Rossi, Business Lead, Google Events + Experiences
“At adidas Skateboarding being consumer obsessed means living and breathing skateboarding and playing a participatory roll in the culture. If you’re not out there skating and being a part of it, then you’re doing it wrong. That’s the difference. Our team is comprised of individuals who have given their lives to skateboarding and that passion and understanding of the culture is what allows us to very naturally create products and experiences that resonate authentically in the hearts and minds of skaters.”
-Cullen Poythress, Senior Communications Manager-Action Sports, Adidas
“Why we’re moving into this space is not necessarily about particular content; it’s about the experience side, getting people to embrace what augmented reality and virtual reality does and that’s why event marketing is so important.”
-Raj Puran, Director of Client VR Business Development & Strategic Partnerships, Intel
“What we loved most about the campaign is how simple it was. It was clearly delivering on our call to action to ‘Be an Outsider,’ leveraging insight we got that the No. 1 barrier to getting outside is work and incorporating biophilia-rich environments. All three of those things together led to our success…With results like this, you’d think the p.r. budget and paid media budget was really big but we are a very modest company with our Maine roots and we didn’t spend a lot—so its success really speaks to the integrity of the campaign.”
-Kelly Warsky, Head of Brand Experience, L.L. Bean
“Bumble is all about investing in their users’ personal lives, empowerment and enrichment. So, from a programming perspective, we put it through the lens of, when we bring something into the space does it impact our audience in a way that betters their lives? Are you learning something from it? You wanted to give people that experience of gaining something, and we did that through bringing speakers into the space who were experts in technology, entrepreneurs or technologists or scientists. We had talks in the space about health and wellness, relationships and fertility.”
-Sean Florio, Co-Founder & Partner, Manifold
“In a world where everything is becoming about technology, you have to have human touch. You can’t get rid of that human element. There are times that technology is faster and easier, but you also always want to have the human option there.”
–Tracey Shechtman, VP-Global Experiential Marketing, American Express