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HPE CMO Jim Jackson Talks the ‘Sphere Effect’ and the Future of Keynote Content

Hosting the first-ever corporate keynote event at Sphere Las Vegas as part of HPE Discover, June 17-21, is just the beginning for the Hewlett Packard Enterprise team. The brand is hosting its biggest showcase buildout ever for the conference this week at The Venetian Convention and Expo Center, has made a high-profile partnership announcement with NVIDIA, collocated the formerly separate Atmosphere event by its Aruba Networks brand at Discover, and is welcoming its biggest audience (more than 14,000) since the company became HPE.

“We’ve got a great story when you think about our whole portfolio, but we needed a venue that would really match the moment, something that would signal to the market to tune into HPE and help us elevate above the noise,” HPE cmo Jim Jackson told EM ahead of the show.

RELATED: Field Report: Inside the HPE Discover Keynote at Sphere Las Vegas

History-making and the marketing star power of Sphere served as fuel for the evolution at Discover this year. Indeed, the most unique venues in the world require a unique approach to the marketing and communications around an event.

Jackson said the team was deliberate in how it rolled out the corporate keynote announcement with Sphere Entertainment Co., with combined press releases and partner communications. In some ways, it followed an entertainment industry playbook akin to a rock and roll band residency announcement. (It also helped that Discover attendees could catch Dead & Company at Sphere this week.)

“It’s not just, ‘We’re going to have 300 sessions and do all these things.’ It’s about why this is going to be unique and different for you,” Jackson says, adding that the communications and the excitement went both ways. “It’s been thrilling for our internal teams, too.”

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The keynote required longer lead times for graphics, and big decisions were made months earlier than a traditional keynote.

In fact, ahead of the show the executive team, including HPE ceo Antonio Neri, conducted a walk-through of the venue, and Jackson said they were all “blown away” by how it was coming together. He also said he’s had to be active on LinkedIn, too, replying to comments and engaging with people. Within that platform, he could see the traction being gained and the buzz growing around this investment.

The team approached the production planning differently as well. It all started much earlier as they faced longer lead times for graphics, and major decisions had to be made months earlier than they would for a traditional keynote. Critical to the success, Jackson said, was a process that was front-end loaded, with a series of milestones laid out clearly for internal teams and partners. The brand also didn’t face seating capacity limits as it has in traditional keynote settings, requiring no additional logistics for overflow.

“A key point for me that we all learned as we were coming through the process is that it doesn’t have to just be all our message carrying the weight. We can rely on the power of Sphere and the experience that it brings to actually touch multiple senses, and so it’s then about how do you leverage that,” Jackson said. “I personally believe that Sphere is going to revolutionize the way brands tell their stories. And I’m really proud that we’re blazing the trail with them. It is a whole new approach to brand storytelling.” Agencies: i4D Events (global events AOR); Sphere Studios (technology); No Filter Creative (content).


More Scenes from HPE Discover at Sphere:

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Rachel Boucher
Posted by Rachel Boucher

Rachel joined Event Marketer in 2012 and today serves as the brand's head of content. Her travels covering the experiential marketing indust ry have ranged from CES in Las Vegas to Spring Break in Panama City Beach, Florida (hey, it's never too late)—and everywhere in between.
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