Archive for the ‘Experiential Marketing’ Category



October 26, 2010

“Only one more week, but first comes Halloween” was my mother’s response when as I child, I would ask in anticipation, “Is it my birthday yet?” Unfortunately, because a week’s time was not an easy concept to grasp at that age, I focused on Halloween as the culprit. If there was no Halloween, it would be my birthday. And so I grew up disliking Halloween – an attitude that still has impact as it is my least favorite of all holidays!

In my 20s, birthdays moved from thoughts of cake and presents to celebratory drinks…and once again I thought I was cursed because early November birthdays meant the celebration was “always” (maybe twice in a decade) impeded because of election day and at the time, the “no selling of alcohol until the polls closed” rule. So not only Halloween, but Election Day interfered with my celebration.

Today as I sat at my desk and thought “only one more week”, I had to chuckle. Yes, one more week until my birthday, but what I was actually thinking was we only will be subjected to this incessant madness of negativity, disrespect, shouting, twisted truths and misjudgments one more week and then the elections will be over.

Most think of this as a mighty struggle between two political parties that both think they have the “right” answers and the right governing philosophy. I think of it as a mirror of my frustrations with my industry. Both reflect symptoms of human nature-and our difficulty in accepting change.

Both our government and our industry, I expect, are caught in the classic struggle of stick to what we know, judge based on history, protect the past and our old “truths” vs. exploring, moving forward, experimenting, and searching for new ways and new truths because those old truths have failed us.

The Cityscape in MinnPost yesterday featured an interview that caught my eye, in which Dean Tom Fisher, Uof M College of Design, indicates we are in an exciting time, at the cusp of a renaissance …the problems we face in the 21st century are profoundly different than those we faced just a few years ago.

Fisher suggested that the meltdown of 2007-2008 brought us into an entirely different era while the political arguments remain the same – and from my perspective, mostly irrelevant! And yet we accept this tremendous cacophony of the 2010 Elections and governing cycle as just the way it is.

A glimmer of hope, however, as Max Lenderman in his blog this morning pointed out a new trend in Advertising –when after their marked loss of revenue as a result of old thinking, a few are now venturing forth to reinvent themselves to become relevant again, and even using experiential campaigns as TV spots with good success.

If Ad Agencies after 50 years of “reigning supreme” can recognize this new world we live in, perhaps there is hope for politics (and our own Event industry) as well. Perhaps by 2012 Election Cycle, we will have moved to authentic discussions that demonstrate innovation, interaction, engagement and collaboration. To quote Dean Fisher, “this is no longer about managing situations. It’s about finding leaders who will tell new stories about the reality we’re in….we operate as if we’re still in an age of survival of the fittest, of competition, of setting up political enemies and polarization, about Democrats and Republicans when the real world now depends on mutual support and cooperation. ”

Unfortunately, I’m afraid that for all of us to recognize this will take much more than “one more week” !



October 20, 2010

Tell me and I’ll forget
Show me and I may remember
Involve me and I’ll understand

-Confucius 551-479 BC

One of my early introductions to the concept of experiential events – along with the work of Gilmore & Pine, Pink, and a few other pioneers like Jack Morton WW, Denise Shiffman and Shaz Smilansky , was a book by Max Lenderman entitled “Experience the Message”.

It was here that I was reminded of the Confucius quote that had first inspired me twenty years earlier as we launched that first integrated meetings company at Carlson Marketing Group. It combined into one , the separate disciplines of meeting management, AV production, and product expos, that up to then came together only at the site of the corporate meeting itself–managed by separate companies for a single client. Despite its inherent weaknesses, it worked and along with thought-leaders experimenting in other companies nationally, it became the model of what we think of as meeting production through-out the remainder of the 20th century.

In those days, we often used a variation of the first two lines of that Confucius quote to illustrate why we were graduating from lectures or at most two-projector- dissolve AV shows to major media productions to support the talking heads of corporate executives in the general session. And by accident, and perhaps boredom with destination, movie, and book “theme” parties, in 1985, we experimented with combining a traditional “product expo” with a lunch, reception or dinner and inadvertently addressed the real essence of that quote when, by accident, we engaged our audience! It became a point of difference for us, even though we did not really understand why it worked.

A move at end of the 1980s to head up the first Event Marketing Division at Carlson, did not seem like a big leap…although I certainly did not understand the emerging discipline as well as the performance improvement, motivation, incentive world from whence I came. Nevertheless, it seemed to describe more succinctly what we were delivering in the previous five years under the guise of CMG Meetings and so I stumbled into what then became my career passion. Originally at Carlson, then within my own company of Creative Events, I viewed a meeting or an event as a communication tool to deliver a message and achieve defined objectives or outcomes – dictated usually, by the senior management team. I delivered those outcomes and I was successful.

Early in 2000s, I began to see the awakening of a whole new twist to that discipline that ultimately emerged described as event marketing and experiences; it piqued my interest and I was driven to learn more. And by 2005-6, technological changes were emerging that turned our world upside-down. One way streaming from the podium on stage was no longer in vogue-even if it was supported with breth-taking multi-media visuals. The shift to Involve me and I will understand was being supported by case studies and brain research that launched the learning revolution. Thought-leaders like Max Lenderman wrote “Experience the Message” and I read it, was inspired, and began in earnest, a search to better understand this phenomenon. I reached a career pinnacle this past summer when along with a talented support team, we delivered a highly successful interactive experiential meeting we labeled “5000 events for 5000 people.”

And here I am, coming full circle, as I am now reading Lenderman’s second book – “A Brand New World”. In it, I’ve learned there is no time to “rest on my laurels”- I am already behind in recognizing that, as Lenderman suggests, “most everything interesting in marketing and advertising is actually happening in the ‘Third World’” – in that emerging marketplace of hyper-developing countries known as BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China). Yes, I knew it was big; Yes, I knew it was growing rapidly; Yes, I knew it was a partner not to be overlooked in the global economy; No, I did not know what all that really meant – for me and for my world. As I read the book, I am realizing that “pinnacle” CRV event this summer is only a stepping stone – with so much more to learn. Stay Tuned!



March 13, 2010

If one reads my credentials or listens to me talk about my business, you may hear me reference experiential events with some frequency.

To some event designers, this term reflects another way of saying “interactive”. We often witness a “make-your-own” food station or an included game or entertaining option in events we attend. And there is nothing wrong with that – it certainly is a step away from the passive events long past- it just does not represent what is meant by experiential events.

The experiential movement began, some believe, as long ago as the early 1980s, but for me, I first felt a need to go beyond the emphasis on desired outcomes, communicating the message, and reinforcing that message through social interaction in my events sometime in the mid- 1990s. That quest for a better way and more impactful results led me towards the concept of Experiential Events.

As “brand” emerged as an action step in our business, I followed it from its visual applications, through the emotional branding, sonic branding and “be your own brand” phases, and learned how and when I could effectively bring a client’s brand to life within an event. I watched mobile marketing emerge and thrive. I followed Gilmore and Pine on their journey through “the Experience Economy” and “Authenticity”. I watched early pioneers like Jack Morton, George P. Johnson, Shaz Smilansky , and Eric Hauser; was inspired by Shiffman’s “The Age to Engage” and eventually joined Eric’s Experiential Marketing Forum. Although I still consider myself a novice, learning more each day, I also am learning that within the Experiential Event Marketing realms, there is still a ways to go to reach consensus about what it is and how to do it.

So, I attended a session called “Experiential Events…Pushing Beyond Four Walls” at Event Solutions last week. And I had an“EUREKA!” experience.

Branden Chapman, Vice President, Production and Process Management for The Recording Academy and Annual Grammy Awards provided me with an essential key to understanding. He defined an experiential event as:
• Creating a one-on-one connection between consumers and brands via an event
• Translating a “brand” into a results-focused and results-driven event experience
• Providing guests and consumers with an “interactive experience that requires active (not passive) participation
• Creating an open-ended connection with guests to reinforce event/brand strategy

From those four basic points, he went on to provide examples of how to break out of the four walls of our event, how that benefits our clients, and how breaking through the walls will work to the advantage of each of us. And then he laid out a challenge that we each need to change our approach and thinking because this is the future of all events.

Note I did not say that he then showed us pretty pictures of the Grammys as evidence that he is a wise and celebrity event producer! Instead, he thoughtfully showed us how to incorporate this shift into our own events, and how our clients and we will benefit from doing that.

If you have an opportunity to hear him speak – take advantage of it. You will be motivated to go forth as a committed proponent of experiential events and both you and your clients will be better off for doing so.



December 16, 2009

Thanks to the Strib, I started the day with a smile when they included a brief article in the Variety Section about bludot’s “ A REAL GOOD experiment” .

If you don’t know this company, check them out at They are quirky, fun and REAL GOOD.

My infatuation with them began when I first noticed their furniture in European design magazines a few years ago and realized they were home town peeps. At the time, they had done little in marketing in the Twin Cities and were not a familiar name. From a visit to their website, to a visit to their headquarters, to their annual sales events, to exploring a collaborative partnership for a bludot lounge for the press during the RNC, to frequent visits to their retail outlet, Roam, to see what’s new, I am a REAL GOOD fan! Trust me, learn who they are, and you may become one too.

And today? Today I learned that one of my favorites, the REAL GOOD chair (I want two for my office in red) was the focus of a “REAL GOOD experiment” in NYC. Twenty-five chairs, some armed with GPS, were dropped at locations through-out New York City. As they were “curb-mined”, bludot followed their travels through out the city. Check out the results on their web – it will make you smile too, as you witness this innovative example of experiential marketing!