Our annual guide to the top 100 agencies serving the event marketing industry
It’s year two of a global pandemic that has systematically, with every wave, challenged the event industry and stretched its players’ creativity and patience more than anyone ever thought possible. Despite the relentless jabs, event companies are doubling down on their belief in the power of experiential. And it’s paying off.
Whether it’s pivoting to simply keep the doors open (survival—that’s a win), embracing virtual and its possibilities to enhance in-person events, delivering experiences to consumers in a reverse activation strategy, or finding ways to lift up communities with programs that serve and entertain—the top agencies of the year kept pace by reimagining what defines an “experience” in the first place.
Our selection process for the 2021 It List zeroed in on differentiated offerings, future plans, creative work and, most importantly, results. But this year, we also placed additional weight behind thought leadership, asking each applicant to provide tips and insights that are helping them help their clients navigate these tumultuous times.
“Living in the moment” was cliché at one time, but today it’s a call to action. As Mark Radford, executive account manager at The Taylor Group puts it, “Don’t wait for an old strategy to work again. Don’t worry about being temporary.”
Many agencies on the list discussed the importance of activating boldly in the post-pandemic era.
“Consumer demand, and our own excitement, around building live, in-person experiences has never been higher,” says Gabe Banner, svp-brand experience at United Entertainment Group. “But there’s also a higher bar for what’s worth attending in-person now that we’ve all become accustomed to experiencing and interacting with brands from the comfort of our own home. There’s no room for standard, boring or careless design anymore—make it fun, make it great, or don’t make it at all!”
There are also forces at play greater than the impact of the virus itself. “Prices have increased all the way around due to supply and demand. It is our job to explain this to clients. It’s a trickle-down effect. The pricing for lumber, Plexi, food, all have risen,” says Janna Ferner-Bell, director- production, The Experiential Group.
And while the virus certainly dominates news cycles, it’s not the only thing on audiences’ minds and hearts.
“The times of the pandemic are also associated with social, political, and economic unrest, resulting in consumers demanding brands take action for causes that are bigger than themselves,” says Conner Calabro, senior manager-experience and consumer strategy at Wasserman. “Brands that spoke up during 2020 but do not continue to demonstrate continued support will be seen as inauthentic.”
Habits have formed and audiences are still craving choices in how and when they consume content.
“We’re encouraging our clients to understand that audiences continue to look for information in all forms and formats,” says Vinny Minichiello, head of business development at The Production Network. “
We bring you more insights across this report, and of course, we outline all you need to know about the It List companies, including their unique offerings and fast facts.
Last year, as we offered our congratulations to the year’s list-makers, we signed off with, “Let’s see what you can do.” Well, you’re doing it. And your peers, the featured Top 100, are helping to prove it. It’s go time.