In poker and event management, sometimes it pays to go "all in." Granted, a successful long-term marketing program is usually based on tried-and-true tactics and sure-bet strategies. But every once in a while, you have to put all of your chips on the table and try something unexpected if you want to score high-roller returns.
The winners of EXHIBITOR Magazine's 12th Annual Corporate Event Awards did just that with their unexpected and extraordinary events. While more wary event marketers might have folded at the mere thought of these daring affairs, this year's winners executed bold ideas and courageous schemes, and scored serious success in the process.
In fact, the 2015 jury applauded winners for their ability to pair risky concepts with killer strategies. Holed up in a Las Vegas boardroom for the better part of eight hours, the jury eventually settled on five winners, which they touted as "inventive," "novel," and "utterly on point."
Take our Judges' Choice Award winner, Vanity Fair Inc., which hoped to reintroduce and reinvigorate the 100-year-old lingerie brand. Rather than employing ho-hum product displays or same-old ad campaigns, the company created the Vanity Fair Lingerie LiftTour. Housed within a vinyl-wrapped RV, the experience offered on-site bra fittings courtesy of the company's bra-fitting experts, along with a free bra donation on behalf of each participant to Dress for Success, a nonprofit organization that provides professional clothing to low-income women. In addition to gaining judges' accolades and taking the competition's top honor, the program scored 150 million impressions and donated 5,400 bras to the nonprofit.
Miele GB, the U.K. division of Miele & Cie. KG, also turned out a high-visibility event to launch its new line of W1 and T1 washers and dryers. Instead of staid presentations and a bunch of talking heads, Miele offered press and dealers an immersive artistic performance filled with everything from ballet dancers and cyr-wheel acrobats to mimes and ribbon aerialists – each one of which was specifically choreographed to represent a key feature of the new machines. Particularly unprecedented for a laundry-appliance launch, the strategy scored massive media attention and enough at-event sales to pay for the entire two-day experience.
So please join us in congratulating the 2015 Corporate Event Awards winners. Featuring stellar one-off strategies paired with ace-in-the-hole execution, these all-in events are on the razor's edge of their industries. May they encourage you to push the envelope with your own programs now and again – and help you establish your high-roller status. E
Stephanie Arone, president and general manager, Activity Planners Inc., Las Vegas
Ted Dicks, shows and events manager, Subaru of America Inc., Cherry Hill, NJ
Michelle Hernandez, global event strategist, Cisco Systems Inc., San Jose, CA
Fred Onsaga, events director, Encore Productions Inc., Las Vegas
Liese Peterson, managing director of North America, Von Hagen GmbH, Las Vegas
Allison Saget, event marketing consultant, author of "The Event Marketing Handbook," San Francisco
Donald Schmid, department manager, experiential marketing, Hospira Corp., Lake Forest, IL