The second day at the Experiential Marketing Summit (May 3-5) at McCormick Place in Chicago kicked off bright and early at 6:30 a.m. with a morning Wake Up 5K, offered all three mornings at the show. Networking and fitness? Why not?
For those who partied late into the evening at the Ex Awards, there was a hearty meal of breakfast burritos before the 8:30 a.m. keynote featuring Deborah Curtis, vp-global experiential marketing at American Express. Curtis offered an overview of the brand’s 167-year history, along with insights on what it means to be in the industry now, and in the future. At the core of the keynote was one critical message that has guided American Express’s approach since the company’s foundation: “Service as heart. Reinvention as soul.” Creating a sense of trust and providing cardmembers with top-notch service is, and always has been, what the brand is all about, says Curtis. “It’s the trust and service with our cardmembers that is central to our mission. It’s in our DNA and it’s the pumping heart of the company.” Thanks to partner PRG for live-streaming our keynotes at EMS this year.
After a quick coffee break, we jumped into a full morning of sessions (13 to be exact), with topics ranging from building Instagram-worthy events with Lancôme to disrupting tech events with American Greetings to connecting with college kids with Uniqlo. The morning ended with a power panel featuring Event Marketer’s 2017 B-to-B Dream Team, 10 of the industry’s top b-to-b marketers we’d recruit if we started our own brand.
At noon, we kept the momentum going with the keynote luncheon featuring Helen J. Stoddard, head of global events at Twitter. Over a menu of roast chicken and tiramisu, we learned about Stoddard’s rise from event planner to event marketer and how she never looked back. “All of a sudden, it was about the connection, the message, the story,” she says. “The challenge I put to all of you is that you are where story meets experience. When those things come together, you’ll find success.”
After lunch, 10 more sessions including a fireside chat on esports with Twitch, JetBlue’s guide to in-flight events and storytelling with Microsoft.
At 4:15 p.m., attendees were invited to take part in an industry give-back event for the Headstrong Project, coproduced by Sparks. For this moving event, attendees put together wellness kits for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Happy Hour kicked off at 5 p.m. in the Solutions Center, with more activity surrounding the Highmark Hub, including a “whisky vs. whiskey” tasting and complimentary manicures.
At the end of an action-packed day, attendees headed into the city for dinners or the group networking event at Chicago’s Café Bionda, the perfect cap to the evening for those flying “solo” at EMS.
THEY SAID IT: EMS 2017 DAY TWO
“The only way [attendees] are going to relate is if it’s something that connects with them. I often go to events and no one asks me to do anything. Ask me to do something. Ask me to participate. Ask me to engage.”
—Helen Stoddard, Head of Global Events, Twitter
“Only 10 percent of you would have remembered this session if we did a standard lecture-style delivery… In passive meeting environments, you’ll forget 50-80 percent of the information 48 hours later.”
—Kate Kerner, VP-Global Conferences, Oracle
“We as a brand will continue to find new and relevant (for us), ways to incorporate technology into our experiences in order to authentically blend the real world and the digital world, facilitating immersion, interactivity and sensory stimulation—all with the ambition to create ‘wow’ moments. Surprising and delighting all the many millions of people who continue to pass through our hands, prompting organic social shares and user generated content.”
–John Carroll, Project Director, Jameson Brand Homes, Jameson
“Brand experience and advocacy is no longer the dark art form feared by many CFOs. It is possible to track and measure, to quantify the impact a brand experience has on our brand equity. And bottom line, ultimately through sales inside of our brand homes and beyond.”
–John Carroll, Project Director, Jameson Brand Homes, Jameson
“There’s nothing better than peer-to-peer communication, so we leveraged our partners (brand ambassadors) to translate our brand messaging into a way that made sense to college students. This happened through word of mouth, one-on-one conversations, student group engagements and on-site sampling.”
—Natalie Harewood, Senior Marketing Manager, Uniqlo USA
Natalie Harewood, Senior Marketing Manager, Uniqlo USA, on the art of “collective” experiences to reach college students: “[You have] to build in-store experiences that offer college-age consumers a way to express their creativity and taste and then create socially shareable content that tell the story of their interactions with the brand. It was successful because it allowed for highly visible brand investment, enthusiastic engagement, culture and content creation and shareable individual and collective experiences.”
“There is a desire for tangible and authentic forms of expression amid a sea of technology that is threatening to make communication less meaningful.”
—Christine Rich, Director of Engagement Marketing, American Greetings
“Large press events often don’t get press coverage. Maison Lancôme was the first time we received so much attention from a press event. It was an experience that offered attendees a sense of the brand and encouraged them to share.”
“Lighting is key to an Instagram-able moment.”
—Stacy Mackler, VP-Lancome
“Our strategy is to make it an experience the employees will remember, make it inclusive, personal and be thoughtful of timing so more people can participate.”
“We invite all people to attend these events. We don’t pick up the tab. It has to be a great experience or they are not going to come.”
—Leslie Shults, Manager-Culture Services at Southwest Airlines
“I think of these things as folic acid for your career, there are things that are good for your career at any time, but that are crucially important when you’re starting a family.”
—Allyson Downey, founder of weeSpring, author of
“Here’s the Plan: Your Practical, Tactical Guide to Advancing Your Career During Pregnancy and Parenthood
“There are 1.8 million trade shows and conferences and exhibits that 205 million people attend each year, so it’s getting harder and harder for companies to get visibility—if you want to stand out, you must break from the norm.”
—Kristine Yapp, Global Event Marketing Manager, Twitter
- Full Coverage: The 2017 Ex Awards
- Grand Ex Award: The Best Campaign of 2017
- What You Missed at EMS 2017: Day One
- What You Missed at EMS 2017: Day Three