Get Mobile and Go Local
In the adult beverages world, events used to be all about “trinkets and trash” distributed by beer babes, according to Fiona Redhair, associate brand manager at MillerCoors. Now, with the help of partner FullHouse, the underdog beer brand has developed a way to speak to (age appropriate) consumers where they live and help them learn about the company while helping them have some hot hi-tech fun. Oh yeah, and a nice, cold beer.
The brand set out to start a revolution in the way beer goes to market, Redhair said. They had to overcome a much larger competitor and extreme legal restrictions around events and marketing, while trying to find the K.B.D. (Key Beer Drinkers) and get “butts in the bar stools,” she said.
They started simply with branded Flash videos on 24 small tablet PCs, which brand ambassadors helped bar-goers check out in exchange for email addresses. That grew to 500 tablets, and dozens of additional markets, all helping bring the distributor partners on board (for cash investments, no less) once they saw the increased sales directly tracked to the video program.
Now, MillerCoors has ongoing content generation, an integrated hardware management system and supporting call center, all of which contribute to hyper-focused local in-market apps and games like the Golden Bonus Balls and 1st and Cold games that are now downloaded by consumers in the thousands.
“Gone are the days of giving people the same old thing in every market,” Redhair said. “They want custom experiences that speak to their interests.”
Right Message, Right Time
Walmart faced a unique challenge in the lead up to its annual shareholder’s meeting last year. While the rest of the country was still struggling with the economic realities of the recession, the retailer was celebrating its growing market share. If it stayed the course, the event might come off as insensitive. Scale back too much and it risked dampening the expectations of the more than 16,000 store associates who vie every year for a shot at attending the event that’s known for being part rock concert and part financial meeting. Mark Henneberger, vp-shows and events at Walmart, gave EMS attendees a rare look inside the mega retailer’s annual shareholder meeting strategy and explained how he tackled the event’s multiple challenges by marrying the right message at the right time. In many ways, it was about going back to basics.
Sam Walton started the shareholder’s event in the 1970’s when he and his wife used to invite employees to their house for backyard barbeques. Since then, the focus hasn’t changed much—the event is still designed, first and foremost, to recognize and reward the company’s employees, known as “associates.” “It’s really about associate engagement,” Henneberger said. Despite the challenges of 2009, Henneberger said it was critical that the event’s objectives didn’t change. “You have to establish key objectives and make sure that whatever you want the audience to take away—make sure you never deviate from that,” he said.
Helping to set the right tone was the entertainment. Henneberger didn’t want the event to be perceived as extravagant so this year’s event went “homespun,” featuring local cheerleaders, marching bands and a parade of Walmart’s associates on stage. “We took it way back and created the ultimate Walmart cheer that was right for right now,” said Chuck Santoro, senior vp at TBA Global, which handles the event. “It celebrated the Walmart brand and American values, and was still exciting but it wasn’t over the top.”
To find out if it struck the right chord, the brand executed a survey of associates who attended the event. The survey asked basic questions about messaging and tenets of the company to see if the team delivered on its key messages. “It was pretty extraordinary, the difference between what they knew before and what they knew after the meeting,” said Henneberger. “We knew we had delivered on our promise.”
Inside Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality (AR) may be the next killer app. But for the uninitiated, it can be a little bit confusing. To help explain what it is, how and it works and who’s using it, Julien Le Bas, creative practice leader at Jack Morton Worldwide gave attendees a crash course. Here are the highlights:
AR is basically “taking reality and adding some information to it,” Le Bas said. People use the video camera on their cell phone or webcam on their computer to record an image called a “marker” (it looks like a square bar code). That image goes to a server, the server recognizes the marker and sends back a virtual object that is superimposed over reality. Using AR, Samsung invites consumers to print a marker, put it on a wall in their home, and using a webcam and a computer, watch on their computer as various Samsung TVs are superimposed on the wall.
Similarly, the Urbanspoon AR app lets you “use your cell phone to look at reality, your environment, and basically add a layer of information to it,” said Le Bas. The cell phone can send info on your location and then overlay information like restaurants, points of interest and directions. “You will see this type of application more and more,” he says.
For the events industry, AR can be used to create complex 3D environments with only a sound stage as a physical footprint. For one of its clients, Norwegian energy company Statoil, Jack Morton filmed an event with a small audience on a stage in London and then broadcasted it live in 120 countries, reaching 130,000 people. The 3D AR technology was overlaid on the live set so the people in the crowd could see the 3D environments on screens, but not on the stage—those on computers viewed the entire event as if it were magically transporting the speaker from an oil rig in the Atlantic to its headquarters in Norway. It proved to be an effective way to show off the company’s global leadership.
“Before using AR you need to make sure the entire concept needs it,” warned Le Bas. “Right now it’s being used in a very tactical way. That works if you have something attractive and cool, but we’ll reach a point very soon where people are overexposed to it.”
How to go from tactical to strategic when the technology is still bleeding edge? Le Bas points to a U.S. Postal Service AR app that lets you put your personal items you want to ship on a marker and then superimpose virtual shipping boxes over it to see which is the right fit. “You can see how the strategy is simple: how can we help people packing boxes to know exactly what they need?” Le Bas said. Similarly, the Fashionista AR app lets you stand in front of a webcam, hold a marker, and then “try on” clothes. You can also take a snapshot or click to buy items on the spot. Both examples reinforce four key points Le Bas says are important to making an AR element successful.
1. Simplicity. “Many people are not willing to download an application on their phone or computer so simplicity is key,” he said. “Make sure the customer experience is as simple as you can get. More than three steps and people won’t engage with it.”
2. Relevance. “It’s not just cool; it brings something another technology would not be able to bring,” said Le Bas.
3. Integration. Eventually, AR will be about building a community, like partnerships with art exhibits or relationships with influentials. “It’s really integrated and doesn’t live on its own,” he said.
4. Long-term Engagement. “It’s a good way to create p.r. right now, but it’s really thinking about integrating it into long-term relationships with target customers,” said Le Bas.
Intel Weathers the Recession Thanks to a New Booth
While many event marketers saw the cup as half-empty last year, Victor Torregroza, event marketing manager at Intel, saw it as half full—a rare opportunity to turn budget cuts (he calls them “adjustments” because it sounds more optimistic) into an opportunity for growth.
Last year, Intel faced major “adjustments” to his Tier One exhibit budget at CES to the tune of a 30 percent reduction in the space and a 30 percent reduction in the budget. “I was struggling with all the changes and what we were going to do to drive success,” Torregroza said. The solution? RFP the booth for a brand new design. “It was a buyers market,” he added.
The winning bid turned 9,000 square feet of empty space into a sleek brand experience dedicated to hospitality on one side and product demos, called “proof points” on the other. Consumers don’t touch Intel’s products directly because it’s an ingredient brand, so Torregroza created an area dubbed InfoScape to make the exhibit experience hands-on and fun. At a main entry point, a touch screen wall drew crowds and massive media attention. “I like to have one part of the booth be a crown jewel to surprise and delight our guests,” he said.
Despite the cutbacks, post-event measurement revealed that Intel still saw performance improvements across all of its metrics. For example, the brand decreased its cost per person it attracted to the booth by about $6 per person. Even with 30 percent less space and budget, the brand actually reached more people.
How did Torregroza sell the new booth to upper management? “Informed risk taking is a value at Intel,” he said. Thanks to his efforts, this year his team got 30 percent of its budget and its space back.
Fan + Artist + Brand: Finding The Right Sponsorship Balance
The mix of digital and live events is allowing brands to get more for their sponsorship dollars by providing meaningful conversations with their customers before, during and after an event. Drew McGowen, senior group manager-sponsorships at Clorox, touted the benefits of crossing platforms to deliver authentic experiences and build lasting relationships with consumers.
“All of us have something we’re passionate about in life,” said McGowen. “Those moments that people love in life, like going to a concert, working for a cause or spending time with family and friends.”
Tapping into such passions is what McGowen’s team did with its Kingsford sponsorship of country singer Keith Urban’s summer concert tour. The strategy was to make the charcoal brand part of the consumers’ lifestyle—in this case summertime grilling with music—with a Keith Urban iTunes playlist playing in the backdrop. The campaign slogan “Escape Together,” encouraged people not only to grill during special events like concerts and football games, but to simply escape into their backyard and do it while listening to music or watching a game instead of ordering pizza.
Leveraging digital, McGowen revved up retailers and internal staff by creating a “thank you” Keith Urban video addressing them specifically as well as placing branded content on keithurban.net.
“We put our content on Keith’s site to be seen where people are already going,” said McGowen, adding that it was also much more cost effective than creating their own microsite, since Keith Urban’s team had done all the work already.
The Future Of Conferences: Reinventing Your B-to-B Events
Companies are raising the bar at b-to-b conferences to stay relevant in a rapidly changing technological and global business world that expects more from their experiences. Kellie Beakey, senior event strategy manager at technology provider VMware, shared her advice on how to reinvent b-to-b events.
The reality is that live events are expensive, and in the past have reached a limited amount of people. But social media has added value to events by extending it well beyond the physical space. The worldwide web has its pitfalls, too, as it becomes more and more cluttered. The solution lies in really good live events that provide quality context for the virtual world. According to Beakey and her team, content is no longer king—context is.
To move forward companies must take on a new way of thinking, which involves being able to tell a better story and give their attendees a voice in the process, like voting for what they would like VMware’s ceo to address during the keynote.
“The virtualization industry is changing and growing rapidly,” said Beakey, adding that in addition to better ROI measurement tools, it’s especially important to understand what attendees want out of their experience. With that in mind, the company now includes emotional workshops helping attendees identify four emotions they wish to walk away with from that event. For example, the “courage” to implement the ideas they learned at the conference once they return to their respective offices.
Year-round Events That Never Go Stale
Just like the caffeine buzz it offers, AMP energy drink experiences are “always on.” The trick or the “secret sauce” as David Mingey, vp-marketing-energy brands at Pepsi dished out (Agency: PGW, Los Angeles), is to always keep it fresh.
The main ingredient in Mingey’s sauce is authenticity. “You have to figure out what your brand means to your audience or else there’s no authenticity,” he explained. Some of his other ingredients include hiring the right staff and aligning with grassroots influencers.
Brand collaborations, like its partnership with Flip, also allow AMP to be “always on” more often, because it can reach more people while splitting the costs with another brand. There are a lot of layers to Mingey’s successful strategy. Here are two:
· Understand when it’s appropriate to have only subtle branding: Streetwear king Eddie Cruz is an AMP brand advocate, but in a video he created for the brand there’s very subtle mention of the energy drink. However, the video got a million-plus views on YouTube and Cruz agreed to house one of AMP’s branded “always refilled” small refrigerators (part of a boutique program the brand did putting fridges in stores with free product), allowing for more sampling with a brand advocate to stand by the product.
· Don’t pay grassroots brand influencers—reward them with goodies: To remain authentic, AMP recruited more than 200 key influencers (like local athletes and musicians) to spread its brand message.
The Best of Both Worlds
Last year, dozens of brands and event marketers, feeling the squeeze like never before, went all virtual with long-time legacy live events. GE Healthcare saw an opportunity to meld its live RSNA tradeshow presence with a real-time virtual experience for all the potential customers who stayed at home. Jim Salinsky, global webmaster at GE Healthcare turned to virtual platform provider InXpo to recreate the company’s tradeshow booth online, which Salinsky and Lou DePasquale, vp at InXpo, explained at Tuesday’s second Digital+Live track session, The Best of Both Worlds: Adding Virtual Layers to Tradeshows.
The goals of the program included increasing leads and customer interaction rates, which was partially accomplished by making content the star of the show. And making the star as easy to get to as possible.
“The goal of going virtual was not to reduce footprint and transfer to 100 percent virtual,” Salinsky said. “The goal was to give people at home a live-equivalent experience.”
One key challenge was the size and scope of the booth they were trying to duplicate virtually. To help session-goers see the solutions, Salinsky and DePasquale took attendees on a live tour through the environment. The results spoke for themselves: 1,300 page views in the first two weeks, with about 3,000 non-GE registered, interested leads that visited the environment during RSNA.
Coca-Cola’s Winter Olympics Platform
More than three years ago, Coca-Cola’s team started laying the groundwork for its 2010 Winter Olympics Activation in Vancouver B.C. The resulting program featured a 106-day cross-country torch relay, a massive 8,600 square-foot Coca-Cola Happiness House and an ambitious sustainability and recycling program. By the time the last medal had been awarded, the brand that had set out primarily to develop a more favorable brand image racked up 74 million positive consumer impressions, 41 million media impressions and—for the first time in seven years—grew the brand in Canada. Maxine Chapman, director-Olympic marketing activation and integration at Coca-Cola, attributed the program’s success to a few key strategies:
1. Take a global event and give it a local feel. Chapman’s team changed signs and premiums by province as it traveled throughout Canada to make the campaign locally relevant.
2. Do focus groups. “I can’t stress this enough,” said Chapman. Coke did one focus group (Chapman recommends two) and had committed to a concept, but then Chapman talked to teens and young adults and knew there had to be some changes, many just seven months before execution. “You may be married to a concept but if you haven’t validated it, you may be missing the boat,” she said.
3. Consult the experts. The brand originally projected it would host 275,000 attendees at its Happiness House, but ended up with135,000 instead, and that was by design. “We recognized it was very popular and we didn’t want to cram people into the space,” she said. Chapman consulted with theme park experts to address everything from the queue to where the gates should go. “Your consumer experience starts the moment they step into your line,” she added. “We made sure that experience was as fun as what was inside as well.”
4. Pick the right people. “People say content is king but I would also say people are king,” Chapman said. Her team interviewed 300 people for the torch relay and chose just 55. “Put a lot of work into your training,” she suggested. “It’s really important they buy into your philosophy.”
5. Map it back. “Remember that your event you’re sponsoring has to drive your business; not the event,” Chapman said.
Dell’s Digital Experiences
Experiences are becoming the new advertising. That was one of the key messages delivered by Dell today at its session on peer-to-peer marketing across the Internet.
“The cost of delivering a message today is zero because of the Internet,” said Aiden Tracey, president of Mosaic, which handles Dell’s digital and live event marketing. “The key is to create memorable experiences that people will want to share on sites such as Facebook, YouTube and other social networking sites.”
Dell is doing just that via 150 on-campus digital brand ambassadors who communicate daily with students via 50 state-specific Facebook pages touting local happenings, parties and events such as SuperProm, a contest in which high-school students across the country submit and vote on 60-second videos to win a free, all-expenses paid prom worth $100,000. Similar programs will take place throughout the year, providing fodder for the digital brand ambassadors to keep the connection going.
Tracey offered these pointers for a successful social media program:
· Be authentic. It’s about people talking to real people, not corporate-speak.
· Be relevant.
· Be timely.
· Deliver content that is meaningful.
A Match Made in Cyberspace
When it comes to social media, some brands use it like an add-on, or just don’t get it. Then, there are the Mitsubishi’s of the event marketing world. In the last Digital+Live session of the day, Mo Durand, manager-product communications at Mitsubishi Motors North America and interactive agency partner Chris Kapsalis, svp-Legacy Marketing Partners showed attendees how it’s done in New Product Launch Campaigns: Full-Time Social Media Integration.
After a 2008 when the brand got killed by the recession (dropping four-fifths of order volume in one month) and found that consumers weren’t interested in the brand and those that were, didn’t tend to be favorable, Durand realized that it was time to invest in upper-funnel experiential and social media initiatives if he was going to differentiate the brand, turn things around and “out-relationship the competition.”
To begin, the brand started small with the launch of the 2009 Sportback. It launched a sharply-focused interactive program only in Chicago last year that lasted eight weeks under the tagline, “What are you into?”
Mitsubishi had to prove it was about being different and standing out, so the brand put brand ambassadors in the streets, parks, bike trails and online at whatareyouinto.net, where Chicagoans could go to connect with people and find out what everyone’s “into” and meet up for activities. The targets were as specific as the location. Two groups were singled out: outbound athletes who enjoyed casual sport like biking and hiking; and day trippers, mostly 35-45-year old women who were interested in hitting the cool spots all over the city. To find and court them, Mitsubishi hit endemic events, like the city’s half-marathon, but also sought out the online mini-social networks where these groups collaborated and talked about their interests and joined in the conversations. The program has now blossomed into an expected 11 markets in 2010.
“The point is to make them feel like they belong, with consistent brand messaging that the consumers can get to know and feel that they are part of,” Durand said. “Be out there as the brand and you‘ll get the cred as the expert, then they‘ll come to you on the social networks for input.”
Hypertargeting Your Street Marketing
Jose Castaneda, division marketing manager at H&R Block, shared his team’s highly targeted street marketing tactics it uses to drive qualified leads back to its 900 offices in the Los Angeles market.
“We created an army of marketers,” Casteneda said. This army included a captain (the strategy creator) and his wingman, and the soldiers that hit the ground running to connect with consumers on the street. IRS data drives the target areas. The right staff, which wore branded signage backpack-style to grab attention, was crucial in this case, since they had to intercept passersby on street corners. To become part of the “army,” they had to pass a checklist of requirements that included the following criteria:
· High rejection tolerance
· Service oriented
· Sales oriented
· Bilingual (Hispanics were a main target)