Recognizing the Best Use of Design and Technology in Experiential Marketing
From Chief Inspiration Officer to Creative Technologist to… Wizard of Light Bulb Moments, job titles across the event marketing industry have evolved to better represent the kind of tech savvy and innovative thinking required for this fast-moving industry.
For many years we produced our Event Technology Awards and Event Design Awards as separate programs, but as you CIOs and Wizards know—and as the case studies you are about to read will show—technology and design are no longer individual sports.
So for the first time, we’ve combined our two fastest-growing award programs into one—the new Experience Design & Technology Awards honoring the best practitioners of event technolgy and experience design. Hundreds of entries were received this year across 20 categories, and after a two-week judging, top honors were awarded at a gala event at EventTech at The Paris in Las Vegas last month.
From mobile vehicle engineering feats to experiential entrances to sleek exhibitory to the best uses of event technologies, inspiration awaits in this next-generation look book. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners.
BEST B-TO-B ENVIRONMENT
Campaign: I/O 2016
Partners: Sparks, Superfly, Jack Morton Worldwide
To the casual observer, Google’s I/O developer conference might have looked more like Burning Man than a business event. And that was by design. In an effort to invigorate the eight-year-old conference and engage the developer community in a less traditional but more meaningful way, Google moved I/O from the confines of the Moscone Center to a sprawling 10-acre outdoor campus called the Shoreline Amphitheatre. The move enabled the event team to use a variety of structures to create a vibrant festival environment, while using the design of each tent, dome and content area to reinforce the technologies being demoed inside.
One of Google’s goals was to “keep attendees looking up, around and out in wonder.” And keep them looking up, they did. Forty-foot custom façades covered breakout structures, geodesic domes acted as dynamic projection surfaces and 36-foot-tall stacked shipping containers served as way-finding elements and lighting rigs. An outdoor product showcase called The Sandbox featured 18 different product groups housed in unique tent structures while smaller pop-up content activations were strategically placed around breakout sessions. And for the first time in its history, I/O’s keynote was presented outside in an amphitheater, a move that ultimately boosted keynote attendance by 25 percent over the previous year. (To boot, this year’s conference was the largest I/O ever.)
The sensory experiences that festivals are known for were further brought to life through the use of natural plywoods, woven fabrics, unique shade structures and custom street murals. Colored smoke and bubbles, food and beer trucks, stilt walkers, impromptu dance parties and Burning Man art cars added that kick of quirkiness the brand was looking for, and that modern attendees—even at, (or perhaps, especially at), b-to-b events—crave.
Partner: NA Collective
Trade show exhibitors often bury their meeting rooms at the back of the booth. This program shows what can happen when the meeting rooms become the center of the action.
#TwitterCity was a small-scale cityscape built inside an 18,000-square-foot ballroom at the Cosmopolitan Hotel where each of the 12 meeting spaces were “buildings” where Twitter’s sales teams could meet with advertisers and ad agencies in town for CES. The environment was designed to bring to life past case studies that highlighted the platform’s unique value and its role as an integral part of our everyday lives.
Among the interactive vignettes was a fully-functioning café that served up fresh coffee and pastries, a sports bar offering cold beer on tap and a park complete with fake grass and park benches. (Ambient city soundscapes added to the environment.)
A heart sculpture acted as the “pulse of the city” where guests could choose their passion (sports, music, politics, etc.) and see activity on Twitter come to life. The digital billboard in #TwitterCity was a social aggregator that showcased the latest trends and conversations that were happening on Twitter during CES.
A secret backroom played host to a gathering of C-level executives and influencers for one night. Guests had to first enter a recording booth inside the city’s Muzik store, and then speak a secret code into the microphone which would open a hidden door leading them inside a prohibition-era speakeasy. #awesome.
Campaign: Super Bowl 50 at Pier 48
Partner: GMR Marketing
As the official broadcaster of Super Bowl 50, CBS wanted to create a memorable weekend of hospitality experiences that would impress key clients and drive business. The network’s two-day event at San Francisco’s 50,000-square-foot Pier 48 delivered against all objectives, while treating the same 1,200 guests to two distinctly different experiences.
Friday night’s event offered attendees a Northern California culinary experience, with industrial tones and textures setting the backdrop for savoring Napa Valley wines and local farm-to-table dishes. A live performance by Bay Area band Huey Lewis and the News capped off the immersion into everything Northern California.
With just 12 hours to strike and load out Friday night’s event (we’re talking 950 pieces of furniture, 10 custom builds installed on both nights, more than 100 linear feet of buffet space and 70 linear feet of bar space), CBS brought to life its Hollywood Regency-inspired “Epic Party” on Saturday night. With opulent décor inspired by the gold and black colors of the Super Bowl 50 logo, high-energy music, 44 crystal chandeliers and a live performance by country star Luke Bryan, attendees enjoyed the food and entertainment in a virtually unrecognizable environment than they had experienced the evening before.
BEST CONSUMER ENVIRONMENT
Campaign: Gatorade Fuel Lab
In 2016, Gatorade expanded its product line with Gx, an ecosystem of science-backed products designed to change how athletes “fuel” through biometrics and alternative food forms. What better event to activate this sports “fuel” (versus sports “drink”) messaging than at the innovation-driven SXSW festival in Austin. The Gatorade Fuel Lab was an experience that drove awareness around what the brand is bringing to market in the coming years—including its focus on customization and science.
Inside the futuristic sports lab environment, attendees took a survey on their opinions about the brand, as hosts led groups of 10 into a video chamber to be introduced to Gx (wearing noise canceling headsets, silent disco-style). Next up was the “hydration customization chamber,” where each attendee was greeted by a touch screen with their name on a customizable ring that sat on top of the new Gatorade Gx bottle. They then chose their bottle color of choice, Gatorade formula type, ID ring pattern and the name on the ID ring. From there, the Future of Fuel Video Chamber unveiled Gatorade’s innovations surrounding the “24/7” athlete. The experience wrapped with a visit to the Locker Room of the Future, where attendees saw examples of sample pro athlete fuel plans presented on interactive displays with speculative interfaces for what fuel plans of the future would look like. After a few minutes, a locker wall with 10 compartments came alive and displayed each attendee’s name and, inside, attendees found the customized bottle they designed, and a bag of Gatorade product samples introduced earlier in the experience.
More than 8,100 attendees experienced the lab, and more than 3,245 Snapchat geofilter uses were recorded. And the futuristic experience earned upwards of 219 million media impressions.
Campaign: The Coca-Cola Tasting Room
Client: Coca-Cola Co.
To re-introduce Coca-Cola to Canadians as a beverage to experience, Coca-Cola created the Coca-Cola Tasting Room in an industrial cool environment that offered multisensory moments with the soda—and plenty of socially-sharable moments, at that. All five of the senses were used to create visually appealing experience rooms in a journey led by a “Coca-Colier.”
There were edible coke tasting bubbles created with Coca-Cola syrup served on an iconic red and white-striped straw. There was a 20-foot-long ribbon chandelier created with 45 iridescent rings, copper pots hung from the kitchen ceiling offering a photo-worthy effect, and a wall constructed of 1,500 bottles; there was a six-foot ice sculpture hand carved to look like the Coca-Cola contour bottle. The “Taste the Feeling” advertising messaging came to life with live vignette models that told different stories of moments made better by enjoying a cold Coca-Cola.
And outside, a five-story projection mapping experience featuring the Coca-Cola glass bottle with animated effervescence and ice cubes finished off with a 26-foot bendy straw.
Campaign: Mini Oval Office
Instagram has installed mini conference rooms in offices around the globe meant to inspire employees and guests to create bite-sized content perfect for their Instagram feeds. During the elections, Instagram took the concept to the next level with the bipartisan Mini Oval Office that activated at the Democratic National Convention and the Republication National Convention, driving organic conversation.
Every piece of the Mini Oval Office was made to replicate items that are actually in the President’s Oval Office. The presidential desk was designed to have similar engraving and raised columns with the center point being a subtle raised Instagram logo extruding from the front of the desk. The leather chair the President sits in was miniaturized to match; the blue carpet and seal were replicated, and even the flags that anchor the desk were given the mini treatment.
The experience was built into a nine-foot-deep by seven-foot-wide by eight-foot-tall shipping container. Celebrities and influencers like Chelsea Handler, Samantha Bee and Ben Carson held interviews in the office, as well as major media outlets like Fox News, Glamour and Refinery29.
BEST MOBILE MARKETING VEHICLE
Campaign: Campaign Camper
Clients: CNN, Facebook
CNN and Facebook’s Campaign Camper, an Airstream trailer in which participants captured and shared their feelings through video on a 26-city tour, offered both style and high-tech functionality. A gullwing door on the exterior drove attention from afar. Inside, a lifestyle lounge equipped with a custom u-shaped couch accommodated CNN news anchors who broadcasted live and conducted interviews. When they weren’t using the space, consumers could kick back, relax and watch CNNgo on the 70-inch screen mounted in the center console.
A custom video confessional built into the right side of the trailer, where voters captured and shared video content, served as the trailer’s focal point with a presidential red curtain and custom-built podium outfitted with a 20-inch touch device to control the user experience along with a gooseneck microphone. Visitors walked up to the podium and selected either Ask a Candidate a Question or Tell Us How You Feel. Based on their selection, a custom-developed teleprompter mounted below the camera engaged voters with simple prompts to guide the process. Video was captured and immediately uploaded and emailed to the user for sharing on Facebook or Instagram from a custom-branded gallery right on their device. Throughout the tour, content was aggregated in a custom Facebook Tab gallery on CNN’s Facebook page for all to see and hear. CNN also showcased select questions and integrated them into the live primary debates.
The #CampaignCamper, as it was tagged on social media, reached more than 20 million people, and both the Democratic and Republican CNN debates aired an entire segment on it. A replica of the video confessional is now part of the #LikeShareElect exhibit at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
Campaign: Hops & iOPS
Partner: iDEKO Productions
When Net App needed a new forum for its sales teams to interact with clients, they found the answer in a “mobile pub” that traversed the country in a months-long tour. The “Hops and iOPS” vehicle housed a fully functioning bar where clients could enjoy a beer and learn about the brewing process with a video featuring Dan Gordon, co-founder and brewing engineer of Gordon Biersch Brewing Company, along with seminars on Net App technology.
Bar stools, a dart board, projector, LED screen, custom signage, lighting and brick paneling provided an engaging, casual forum for entertaining and educating clients.
The branded “Hops and iOPS” truck featured double doors with a full-width swing and tread plate bumper for easy throughput in and out of the vehicle. Inside, reclaimed wood, corrugated metal, rustic bolts and an aluminum-corrugated floor replicated a rustic pub feel.
The authentic, relaxed setting encouraged meaningful conversation and learning between clients and the sales team. The experience helped Net App achieve its goal—to transcend the traditional sales call from the office environment and create a unique forum to host clients. We’ll drink to that.
Campaign: Mobile Experience
Partner: Brewco Marketing Group
Tenneco’s mobile experience, on the road through June 2019, offers a hands-on engagement with the technology surrounding its products and their role in the automobile industry as it travels to plants, colleges and community events. Two 53-foot double expandable trailers filled with product displays, 2D graphics and video messaging and smart board technology relate the value and benefits of clean air and enhanced mobility that Tenneco products provide.
On board each trailer were five touch screen TVs and two Think Hubs with maps, interactive timelines and videos. All of the screens operate through a simple application run off an iPad. Guests can pull photos, videos and other content straight from their phones onto one of the two Think Hubs, then can edit the content and email directly from the trailer to their clients. Subwoofers and sound bars allow each audience to have full surround sound, and outdoor TVs and displays amplify the experience, along with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
One of the tour’s biggest successes has been taking the experience to college career days to teach engineering students about the future of the auto industry. A+ for that.
BEST OUTDOOR ENVIRONMENT
Campaign: Pure Leaf Tea House
Partner: Match Marketing Group
The Pure Leaf brand is steeped in simplicity and craftsmanship. So when the premium iced tea company set out to create a mobile experience to celebrate the launch of its Tea House Collection, it had to design an environment that reflected those core characteristics. Enter: The Pure Leaf Tea House, a modular, open-air structure featuring modern whitewash wood finishes and premium white stone accents that was part tea house and part gallery.
Operating under a United By Craft theme, the Tea House offered an exclusive culinary experience in each market featuring an award-winning chef and a well-known local craftsman. While the chef executed live demos and created upscale recipes that infused or complemented the Tea House Collection’s premium ingredients, the craftsman showcased a collection of his or her best handcrafted culinary pieces, which were artfully displayed within the space. Tea Master-led tastings added an additional layer of engagement.
To create a space befitting of the epicurean experience, Pure Leaf customized many of the structure’s design elements. A handcrafted succulent wall with back-lit branding, a seven-foot-long Corian serving bar, slat wood walls designed to create a stripped-down, minimalist feel and accent LED lighting were all incorporated to deliver an on-brand, design-forward aesthetic.
The arrangement required a highly modular build, with expandable fencing and slatted swing walls to make the space as small as 10-feet by 10-feet or as large as 40-feet by 40-feet. The feature allowed for the structure to be opened on one side for small, front-facing venues or on both sides for full, 360-degree consumer interaction. When the tea party came to a close, Pure Leaf had earned 10 to 20 times more consumer engagement time than its traditional sampling activations. Ahhh… refreshing.
Campaign: Pepsi Fan Deck at Levi’s Stadium
When you’re a primary sponsor of the Super Bowl, you go big or go home. So for Super Bowl 50, Pepsi pulled out all the stops to deliver a one-of-a-kind spectator environment at Levi’s Stadium by revamping its Fan Deck, ultimately creating an atmosphere that celebrated the history of football, the 49ers and the spirit of San Francisco.
Pepsi enlisted some outside assistance to help power the transformation of the Fan Deck, partnering with San Francisco’s artist in residence, Jeremy Fish. Fish was tasked with producing a mural that spanned the full length of the Fan Deck, which he accomplished through a balance of hand illustration, hand painting and digital artwork, all of which was used to intertwine the history of San Francisco’s gold mining roots with the 49ers organization.
The Fan Deck also included the “12 Pack of Fans,” a structure featuring custom-built rows of seating housed inside a larger-than-life 12-pack of Pepsi. Bottle cap-themed seating and tables were also scattered throughout the space, encouraging relaxation and interaction.
At the end of the day, the Fan Deck allowed Pepsi to deliver an engaging and relevant storyline within a highly social environment, while also garnering high visibility for the brand. Now that’s something worth cheering for.
Hostess produced its largest-ever consumer-based activation last spring with a Twinkie sampling event that took South by Southwest (SXSW) attendees for a wild ride atop America’s favorite cream-filled snack. With its sights set on millennials, the brand activated its Outdoor Stage sponsorship by unleashing the Twinkie Bull. That’s right, the Twinkie Bull—a six-foot-long mechanical bull fabricated to resemble the iconic snack food, which served as the centerpiece of Hostess’s three-day activation.
The objective of the Twinkie Bull experience was to boost user-generated content while offering an experience authentic to the Austin-based festival. Accordingly, festivalgoers were invited to stop by the Hostess booth to take their shot at taming the “Bucking Twinkie” and to sample Hostess’ core products. To reward participants who held on to the Twinkie Bull for 30 seconds or more—and to incentivize all attendees to engage with the brand—staffers distributed branded swag like custom shirts, bandanas and foam cowboy hats. Photo ops with Hostess’ mascot, Twinkie the Kid, were also available.
Armed with a low barrier-to-entry, loads of sweet treats and an inherently share-worthy experience, Hostess ultimately earned 50,000 direct impressions. Yee-haw!
BEST TRADE SHOW EXHIBIT (50' X 50' AND UP)
Campaign: CES 2016
Partner: ASTOUND Group
GoPro is best known for its wearable and mountable camera devices that have transformed the way we view and record action sports. But the brand doesn’t just make video cameras anymore; it makes cameras, spherical/virtual reality solutions and drones. It sells its own software, and serves up channels of branded content, making it a lifestyle brand as well as a media brand. To reinforce this heavier messaging, GoPro at CES 2016 unveiled a bigger, revamped modular booth that offered attendees and industry folks an interactive product journey through stories and video vignettes.
GoPro-captured content with its wide-angle views, music and crisp colors served as the star of the show against a clean, minimalist booth design. In a theater room outfitted with premium lounge seating, attendees watched GoPro video and product demonstrations. An 80-foot-wide curved LED ribbon around the booth displayed looped content and drew attendees in. At kiosk work stations, GoPro encouraged visitors to create content themselves that they could share on social media instantly.
In addition to content, the double-decker booth offered visual impact and space for eight meeting rooms above the chaos of the show floor. Other booth features included a quad-copter café area, a VIP space with premium finishes, eight mannequins in active poses illustrating uses for the products, a hospitality bar, storage rooms, tech room and the 780-square-foot theater. GoPro completely transformed its image on the show floor from the 10-by-10 booth it had used for several years. In addition, spaces inside the booth were designed for reuse throughout the year at events and conventions outside of CES, including retail stores, lending the brand consistency in its messaging, look and feel.
You go, GoPro.
Partner: Ashfield Meetings & Events
Using technology, live art and a tactile engagement, pharmaceutical brand Humira at the EULAR Show (Annual European Congress of Rheumatology) delivered patient-focused content in different learning styles.
It began with the 16-foot by 16-foot Living Wall covered with plum colored calla lilies—one for every 100 of the 980,000 patients currently using the drug. In a virtual reality zone, attendees viewed content about the technologies involved in the drug’s manufacturing process, as well as showcases of the everyday lives of patients. Booth staff carried iPads loaded with VR teasers to initiate conversations with attendees, and sales reps used them, too. A local artist was commissioned to create three panels representing the journey taken by three key types of patients. The artist interacted with attendees in the space by asking scripted questions, with answers incorporated into the installation. At the end of the show, each piece of art work was framed and given to local affiliate offices of AbbVie, maker of Humira.
The booth received 20,000 visits, 2,900-plus return visits, and resulted in an average 14-minute engagement time per visit.
Campaign: E3 2016
Partner: Freddie Georges Production Group
At a gaming expo like E3, fans can expect game play. As well as long lines. But 2K took an analogue experiential approach, immersing fans in the game with a live set. The brand devoted half of its 120-foot by 100-foot double deck exhibit to the launch of MAFIA III, a game that takes place in 1968 in a fictionalized city called New Bordeaux, LA.
Attendees were transported into a 1960s neon-lit scene straight out of the New Orleans French Quarter in a two-story environment complete with Mardi Gras revelers throwing beads from balconies, tarot card readers, fortune tellers, and a live jazz band. All of the architecture, windows, metal work, street sights, cobblestone floors and surface treatments were based on period photos of New Orleans. A series of staggered store fronts introduced gamers to what they’d expect to see while playing the new game. (Other titles were featured in the booth, too, including NBA 2K17, WWE 2K17 and Civilization VI.)
To top it off, an outdoor food truck served up free alligator tenders and jambalaya in exchange for a 2K promotional tweet.
BEST TRADE SHOW EXHIBIT (UNDER 50' X 50')
Campaign: CES 2016
Client: Faraday Future
Partner: Pinnacle Exhibits
Faraday Future is a start-up technology company focused on developing the next generation of hyper-connected electric vehicles. Joining the ranks of automakers thinking more like technology companies rather than car brands, Faraday Future shared its story publicly for the first time and revealed its concept car at CES 2016 in an environment that juxtaposed organic shapes against sleek lines.
At every turn, the concept car was on display, whether it was in its showroom against a backdrop of a black onyx 23-foot-wide by nine-foot-high LED wall, or scaled down in a built-in display case above a touch screen panel that walked attendees through the vehicle’s specs. As attendees entered the space, they were immersed in futuristic architecture, like 20-foot-tall mirrored pillars that shot off reflections, and 90-inch 4K monitors that offered additional vehicle visuals throughout the booth. In an enclosed glass room, attendees stretched out on leather reclining lounge chairs to take a virtual reality experiential test drive. Faraday’s design teams use virtual reality to test UX and the feel of the car, so they passed that insider experience on down to the attendees. White modern lounge furniture and patio seating up above completed the look.
All of the modern materials like screens, glass, concrete hallways and mirrors contrasted with natural elements such as real moss living walls on both floors of the booth. The underlying message: to see a future where technology meets nature and the two coexist symbiotically. Aside from it being a beautiful exhibit, Faraday’s space balanced technology with design, and stood out from many automotive booths relying on flashing graphics to grab attention. In just 48 hours, the brand earned 45,000 direct mentions and numerous accolades on best of CES media lists.
Enjoying a full charge, no doubt.
Partner: 3D Exhibits
Sometimes products meant for the home are best demonstrated in the home. Through its 3,000-square-foot booth, home automation systems brand Control4 created mock installations for hands-on interactions within a modern home design. Walking up to the front of the booth, visitors saw a two-story structure, with staircases on each side; flat plane roof panels, stone walls, hardwood floors and wooden beams.
Rooms at the sides of the exhibit showcased how the products look and function in the home. Double-sided monoliths placed in the center of the exhibit displayed new products. And up above, an oversized logo cut-out welcoming attendees in.
Campaign: Arnold Sports Festival
Client: Optimum Nutrition
Optimum Nutrition took an organic approach to its 20-foot by 80-foot booth at Arnold Sports Festival by focusing on the human body. The company used the human body’s muscle fiber for inspiration, which tied nicely into its products that focus on the development and enhancement of muscle. This was physically translated into the wave fabric structures hanging above the whole exhibit and weaving in and out of the arch structures.
Products were showcased in transparent LED screen displays. Fitness enthusiasts were free to “strike a pose” on a central platform where muscles and accomplishment could be caught on video. Product display media walls were located along the aisles where visitors lined up. At the “True Strength” photo booth, visitors could snap a shot with an inspirational athlete visual for social media.
The exhibit, overall, was designed to be modular, allowing it to break down into smaller configurations for use in other events, organically.
BEST EXPERIENCE ENTRANCE
Campaign: InterConnect Cognitive Gateway
Partner: George P. Johnson
IBM is a company that knows how to make an entrance. The tech giant proved as much at its premiere cloud and mobile conference, InterConnect, with a larger-than-life entryway that fully immersed 23,000 attendees in the narrative of its cognitive business platform. The experience was designed to attract attendees to the conference’s Solution EXPO, and also motivate them to engage in the science of thought process: perception, memory, judgment and reasoning. Comprised of three massive structures, the Cognitive Gateway entrance welcomed attendees to both InterConnect, and the cognitive era in general.
Each structure in the Cognitive Gateway illustrated moments of “digital intelligence meeting digital business” powered by MutualMind social listening technology. At the first structure, attendees viewed a digital heat map that showcased social media conversations taking place at the conference, organized by day and by hour, while the second structure displayed a live feed of InterConnect social mentions. At the third structure, attendees could view Instagram photos related to the conference, a touchpoint that led straight to the activation’s wow moment—the Image Insights engagement. Powered by IBM Watson, Image Insights served as the culmination of the gateway experience, distilled down into a single personalized interaction between attendees and the brand. Participants simply submitted their Twitter handle, and using the text and images from their tweets, Watson analyzed their character and generated a shareable nine-photo collage that best represented their personality (yeah, killer).
Beyond the memorable personalized experiences, the activation introduced attendees to the cognitive era in a fun, digestible way.
Just business as usual for IBM.
Campaign: Future Front
AOL’s Future Front commanded attention on the first day of Advertising Week by going big—really big. To highlight its acquisition by Verizon while illustrating how the brand is uniquely positioned to mobilize data and content for the future, AOL supersized its messaging by giving attendees tunnel vision.
The brand welcomed attendees to the Future Front through its Immersion Tunnel—a 10-foot by 30-foot room within a room that enveloped the elite brand, agency, media and tech leaders in attendance in an unforgettable technology experience within minutes of arriving at the event.
Upon entering the tunnel, which could hold up to 75 people, attendees encountered a series of nine-millimeter LED panels that were designed to form the enclosed space. Surrounded by the screens, both overhead and on side walls, participants were immersed in 60 seconds of video content including voiceovers, music, imagery and “Mobilization of the Future” messaging. The pace of the experience then quickened for a 20-second finale. At the conclusion, a curtain opened and attendees discovered that they had been transported to the central event space.
In the end, the Immersion Tunnel wasn’t just an engaging, shareable experience; it was a big, bold way to show—not tell—the power of mobile and its ability to transform the world of advertising.
Campaign: RSA Conference
Partner: Opus Agency
Everyone knows that when you break up with someone, you’ve got to make a statement at your next public outing. That’s exactly what Symantec did last winter at the RSA Conference after splitting with storage company Veritas to become a strictly security-focused operation. Equipped with the world’s first tight-ratio LED ring, the brand showed off the “new” Symantec with a booth entrance that was visible from almost anywhere across the massive expo floor.
The brilliant, 10-foot-tall by 30-foot-wide LED video ring was the centerpiece of the gateway to the Symantec booth, serving as a literal beacon that drove attendees in from afar. Appearing to float above the conference floor, the ring broadcast a 90-second loop of video and still content that showcased Symantec’s suite of products and services.
Below the hovering video ring, the entrance was lined with six LED pillars, one for each of Symantec’s flagship products. Each 10-foot-tall structure featured a presentation monitor on the inside, which was leveraged for Symantec’s in-booth theater presentation, as well as content-specific data on the outside.
Dazzling screens, dynamic content and a larger-than-life presence not only established Symantec as a leader in cyber security, but helped attract hundreds of attendees who otherwise could have passed by the booth without a second glance.
BEST B-TO-B EVENT GENERAL STAGE EXPERIENCE
With the theme Full Speed, the general session for Cisco’s GSX FY17 conference for 18,000 members of the company’s sales force needed to “break barriers” and highlight the forward momentum envisioned for the company. Insane A/V elements, coupled with special effects that allowed the audience to become part of the show, broke production barriers, too.
Add to that the barrier-breaking stylings of rapper Lyrics Born and Butterscotch, who played acoustic guitar over loops, while singing and beatboxing simultaneously. Plus, astronaut Mark Kelly’s voice, his story filling the 275,000-square-foot MGM Arena in Las Vegas, talking about traveling faster than sound and breaking the earth’s orbit. And you’ve got a sonic boom—literally. As Kelly spoke the words, “Because if you’re not moving at full speed, you’re not going anywhere,” a seat-shaking “sonic boom” erupted in the arena, supported by a mobile video effect by Offline on all attendees’ devices as every single one of the lanyards around their necks began pulsating with color (they were programmable Xylobands LED lanyards, the largest implementation yet). Before this moment, the audience had no idea that it would become part of the show itself via the most mundane conference item, a lanyard.
Other effects included: a van “flown in” from the rafters which opened to reveal a band playing high-energy surf music, a 32-foot diameter turntable used to announce a Tesla give-away and the largest fog screen installation ever used (every fog screen available in the U.S. was sourced for a total of 120 feet of fog screen that acted as projection surfaces). Supporting the visuals were four curved 16-foot by 53-foot double-sided screens, 16 20K projector stacks and 400 high-power lasers.
Oh yea, we think they got the message.
Client: John Deere
Partner: BI Worldwide
For its internal event for dealers and farmers, John Deere leveraged an intimate activation strategy in a big arena. The event featured a small structure inside the iWireless Center in Moline, Ill., modeled after a classic silo that inside served as the main stage area. Outside the silo structure, various booths and activations lined the edges of the arena offering product demonstrations and engagement opportunities showcasing John Deere technologies.
Attendees transitioned from the outer space, which hosted the one-on-one engagement areas, to the enclosed silo structure for the general session where in-the-round theater seating surrounded a circular stage where John Deere leadership addressed small audiences under a ceiling projected with cloud-like textures that brought the outside in (the outside being where John Deere equipment is used primarily).
This event-within-an-event design allowed John Deere to engage the 1,500 attendees intimately, giving them better exposure to leadership and more personalized brand interactions. And rather than hosting the entire group in one day of engagement, groups of 300 were engaged each day over five days.
Partner: Drury Design Dynamics
How do you transform big data and analytics into a stage-worth production sequence? IBM Insight in Las Vegas, a large tech conference that reveals each year the newest innovation and industry trends in analytics, cloud, mobile and Internet of Things, transformed the stage for its opening performance of the general session on day one into a 3D environment of data points.
A front screen was perforated so that viewers could see through it at orchestrated moments. The screen allowed for full-screen video, but also, a place for the host, Jake Porway, to appear “inside” the data. It all came together with seven screens—five front projection and two rear projection screens—that created a 3D effect, with the host in the middle of it.
IBM showed how it’s the leader in bringing big data analysis to the business world through sessions that highlighted the potential of analytics, cloud, mobile and the Internet Things across industries like sports, automotive and science. Content, graphics imagery, and lighting were all choreographed harmoniously transforming what could have been a flat stage setup into an immersive learning environment.
BEST PERMANENT OR POP-UP RETAIL EXPERIENCE
Campaign: Wonder Photo Shop
Partner: Match Marketing Group
Fujifilm is a classic image taker’s brand that has managed to stay relevant beyond film with cutting-edge products like instant cameras and share printers. To drive that message home, reposition itself within the U.S. market and inspire shutterbugs, Fujifilm created Wonder Photo Shop. The brick and mortar retail environment in New York City’s highly photographed Flatiron District offered cameras, printmaking, framing and do-it-yourself creations.
The 2,200-square-foot shop was all about engaging consumers beyond a smartphone screen to help them rediscover the “soul” of image taking. The store sparked creativity at every corner from the interactive photo frame in the store window (way to make use of every inch of space, Fujifilm) to the interchangeable photo chandelier to the apothecary station with a Nespresso coffee bar and gallery wall. There were tactile design elements with shareable appeal like wood, iron, three chalk walls and a 10-foot faux succulent wall. The space also offered merchandise like antiques, locally sourced items and crafts.
Fujifilm supported the shop’s six-month stay by targeting millennials and Gen X with Wonder Photo Shop accounts on Facebook, Instagram and a website that let consumers preview the store, sign up for workshops, peruse merchandise and more. The digital push included a couple simple yet effective digital features, including a time-lapse of the 74-day store build posted on the Wonder Shop website and social media, and a Google Street View virtual tour of the completed space for the site. There were launch parties, media events and influencer outreach programs, to boot. Fujifilm leveraged the budding built-for-Instagram pop-up trend with this frame-worthy experience that naturally combined analogue experiences with digital ones. Say cheese.
Campaign: Sensodyne True White Sensitivity Suite
Teeth whitening and the issue that comes with it (sensitivity) isn’t the sexiest of topics, but Sensodyne was able to give it a sleek, premium edge with a dentist office in the middle of Flatiron Plaza in New York City and The Falls in Miami. The Sensodyne True White Sensitivity Suite pop-up was a shipping container transformed into a fully-functioning, self-contained (with plumbing and electrical) environment that offered product trial and one-on-one consultations with brand ambassadors and dental hygienists. Consumers were invited to sit in plush white leather chairs and consult with the hygienist to learn about their oral health. There were vanities for trial and a custom display case.
To get people talking and sharing, a Twitter vending machine distributed a branded tumbler glass with a product coupon whenever the #TrueWhite hashtag was used, designed to encourage consumer to enjoy a hot or cold beverage without the concern of sensitivity. Now that’s something to smile about.
Campaign: The Levi’s Lot
Levi’s already had the naming rights to the stadium that would host Super Bowl 50, but to elevate its presence and focus on consumer engagement and music, the brand built the Levi’s Lot two-story pop-up at Super Bowl City in San Francisco. The multi-use space primarily served as a retail outlet for consumers to purchase limited edition NFL product for all 32 teams.
Levi’s Lot, however, also served as a hang place to escape the swarms of people in Super Bowl City. On the second floor was a functioning bar and lounge that doubled as a chill space for fans with local djs pumping beats throughout the afternoon and early evenings. The structure, built from a repurposed shipping container, offered “industrial cool” elements like a succulent wall made from wood pallets, iron and industrial cable wire. And did we mention the views of Super Bowl City, including the Levi’s performance stage across the park?
BEST USE OF A SINGLE TECHNOLOGY (B-TO-C)
Campaign: Locker Room Unveil
Partner: On Board Experiential Marketing
Holograms have been part of the entertainment toolkit since the Tupac reveal in 2012, but rarely have they been used to successfully reveal and market a product. Until Nike’s Locker Room Unveil event in August 2016. The event was designed to excite and energize local high school football players with a personalized experience during the opening of The Star facility—the Dallas Cowboys’ new world headquarters in Frisco, Texas. And while Nike could have simply sponsored a tour of the facility, the brand used the experience to surprise the athletes with new team jerseys in the new Nike Texas Tested locker room.
For the event, Frisco’s Independent School District football teams explored the Cowboys’ new home turf and were among the first to walk the field in the 12,000-seat stadium. Nike representatives led the players, coaches and support staff through the new locker rooms, all customized by the athletic shoe and apparel company. Big, bold signage above the lockers read “We are Texas tested” and “Go take it.”
Yep, this was no simple tour. As the players looked on in the locker room, a custom hologram on a mini stage revealed each team’s new color rush uniform from Nike. Amid white and blue flashing lights and electric beats at one end of the locker room, a 3D image of the Nike logo spun in a circle. Then, it disappeared and a hologram of a football player rose up showcasing the teams’ new jerseys as Drake and Future’s “Jumpman” played. Compared to other hologram activations we’ve seen, this one was intimate and let the players feel like total athlete rock stars. As a result, Nike saw 13,000 social media engagements generated from the 400 in attendance. Each person triggered engagement from an additional 32.5 people. Touchdown.
Campaign: Red Door To Rio
Client: Canadian Tire
For fans and family, Rio may have felt like a world away. But to reduce the “distance” between athletes and fans, and athletes and their families, Canadian Tire created Red Door to Rio, a physical door structure that enabled a full-size, digital experience facilitating real-time a/v interactions. The Red Door to Rio was located at various venues in Ontario and connected to a Red Door from Rio located in Canada Olympic House, in Rio.
The Red Door at Canada Olympic House was set-up with a hardline Internet connection, while the Red Doors in Canada relied on a combination of hardline and bonded mobile network Internet connectivity. A tablet-based registration application synched the physical doors to the stream, allowing a custom software program to record each side of the session and then stitch the videos together automatically. The front of the door featured a camera and microphone to allow users to talk and a massive 84-inch 4K outdoor display to run the live stream.
Participants later received an email with a link to a video of their conversation for sharing across social media. The result: more than 1,000 interactions and 2.5 million video views.
Campaign: Virtual Brandhouse
Client: Under Armour
To tease the opening of its new Brand House in Boston, Under Armour made use of an often overlooked engagement opportunity: construction barricades. Instead of posting the standard “Coming Soon” signage, Under Armour gave consumers a virtual glimpse behind “the curtain” with virtual reality goggles. Two headsets were built into the barricade, manned by brand ambassadors, allowing consumers to see what Brand House would offer.
In the virtual reality experience, consumers were greeted by Boston Red Sox’s favorite Jackie Bradley Jr., who narrated the experience. They then looked around inside what the new store will look like, down to what merchandise it will carry (all based on real schematics and real merchandise, placed exactly where it will appear in-store).
In addition, hundreds of Google Cardboard handsets were sent to local media who could take a tour for themselves. The result: rich data from a new market collected from the simple registration process at the activation, and no “pardon our mess” cliché.
BEST USE OF A SINGLE TECHNOLOGY (B-TO-B)
Campaign: VR Brewery Tour at the Budweiser Beer Garage
Partners: Pro-Ject, The Uprising Creative
As a first-time beer sponsor at South by Southwest (SXSW), Anheuser-Busch InBev wanted to give attendees a taste of its market leadership—as well as its Budweiser Signature Draught. The Budweiser Beer Garage at the SXSWi festival, inspired by the actual Budweiser Beer Garage in Palo Alto, CA, did just that.
A 4D immersive virtual reality experience, which took the attendees on a virtual spin through the Budweiser brewery tour in St. Louis, was the garage’s main attraction. Wearing VR goggles, attendees got to see where the Clydesdales live and learn how Budweiser brew masters conduct quality tastings. Scent, sound and wind added realistic effects as attendees experienced temperature changes in the brewery, felt the breeze while walking from outside to inside, touched the beech wood chips and smelled the hops that go into the production. The multisensory cues synched with VR goggle programming across six headsets for a true group tour feel. And at the end, attendees got a cold, creamy taste of Bud’s Signature Draft just as they would in the brewery.
Samsung Gear headsets were equipped with a Samsung Galaxy mobile device to broadcast the tour. All devices were synched via a MILK VR app and integrated into a timecode that triggered sensory elements through targeted blasts, blizzard lighting, Chauvet LED instruments and DMX controllers. Guests who signed up for the tour online received text messages to return to the garage five minutes before the brewery tour began.
More than 2,600 attendees visited the garage and 1,650 people went through the virtual tour, generating 15 million-plus social and traditional media impressions. The 4D VR tour was so successful, Anheuser-Busch has since taken it to Los Angeles, New York City and London as a recruiting and sales tool.
Campaign: Cisco Live VR Experience
Partner: InVision Communications
After dipping its toes into virtual reality at this year’s Internet of Things (IoT) demonstration area, Cisco’s attendee engagement at Cisco Live will never be the same again. Oculus Rift and VR Cardboard experiences, along with a mouse-enabled 360-video engagement, generated buzz at the event and drove traffic to the booth. Cisco was so pleased with the results, it has since taken the experience to other events, including its largest sales conference, Global Sales Experience (GSX).
VR enabled Cisco to demonstrate how its IoT technology improves reliability, visibility, efficiency and cost in its top three revenue-generating vertical markets—utilities, transportation and manufacturing. Created in character-generated (CG) style over live action, the five-minute demos provided an immersive experience that gave viewers the freedom and control to move around the scenes happening in front of them at one of three Oculus Rift gaming stations at the booth. Attendees who scanned their badges also received complimentary Cisco Live-branded Google Cardboards to view the demos on their own mobile or desktop devices. A 360-video version of the demos also played on Cisco’s public YouTube channel. Attendees who participated in the demos were entered to win an Oculus Rift.
More than 3,000 people sat through the Oculus Rift demo and received a VR Cardboard. Response was so great that Cisco ran out of the VR Cardboards by the last day.
Campaign: Agenda Central
Client: Amazon Web Services
Partners: Opus Agency, etech
The digital signage at last fall’s Amazon Web Se