Getting Ahead of Your Sponsorship or Live Event (Part 2)

In the first part of this article, we went over how far out from a convention you’ll need to start planning your sponsorship or live event. We also shared how understanding your brand is the first step in that plan. 

Read Part 1 of “Getting Ahead of Your Sponsorship or Live Event”

This week, we spoke to Inspira team members Farah Brigante (Creative Director), Jeff Lund (Account Manager), and Ross Cooper (Senior Integrated Strategist), who are going to walk us through their experiences with these titanic festivals and conferences. 

They’ll also share their most successful big activations, and give us a couple of hints on how to clear the hurdles common to events of this scale. 

Organizing the Brand Activations that Succeed

The pros shared with us some of their big activations that went well, and how they managed to pull them off.

Ross Cooper has been a part of brand activations at the Lollapalooza music festival in the past, and he’s found that catering to both passive and active users is the best way to go. 

“Activating at Lollapalooza is challenging, given the scope of the venue. It’s important to provide an entertaining experience that engages consumers who want to participate in something unique, as well as create an experience that also allows others to engage in a more passive way. In short, be inclusive and exclusive.” – Ross Cooper, Senior Integrated Stategist (Inspira)

Farah Brigante ran up against the deadline for Disney’s D23’s media expo while working on a National Geographic activation. She found that, despite not having enough time to plan, strong direction and talented partners turned a potential mishap into a fantastic event.

“The National Geographic “Beneath The Blue” Activation that I worked on for the D23 conference was a huge success. 

Unfortunately, I wish the planning process would have started sooner than anticipated. We began planning 3 months prior to the actual conference date, which was super tight due to the fact that we had projection mapping and real-life recycled animal sculptures that needed to be created and brought to life in the oversized footprint. 

However due to the clear vision from the client and amazing tech partners we were able to pull it off. It’s so critical to have partners who are working and collaborating with you to achieve your vision!” – Farah Brigante, Creative Director (Inspira)

Jeff Lund shared the continuing success of their annual activations for MSA Fire Safety. Inspira has been planning and executing the “MSA Block Party” for seven years running at the FDIC Conference.

This block party brings together over 5,000 firefighters and treats them to a night of music, games, giveaways, and free drinks and food. 

“Although we have ample experience planning this event, it still requires a lot of attention to detail. We have to coordinate over 20 vendors providing everything from tents and lighting to temporary WiFi installations, permits, security personnel, and photographers. You need that extra level of organization and diligence. Even though the brand activation itself is more or less identical year after year, we always begin planning roughly 16 weeks prior, and I think this contributes to our ongoing success and long-lasting relationship with this client.” – Jeff Lund, Account Manager (Inspira)

While these success stories each show different sides of the planning process for big activations, sometimes it’s more important to learn what can happen when things do go wrong. 

Speaking of which . . .

Expecting the Unexpected

The more time and money you’ve spent on an activation, the more it hurts when things don’t work out. 

Ross shared his story where a mundane problem like the weather caused problems that could have been mitigated by more thorough planning. 

“We produced a VIP concert event with celebrity music talent and the weather did not cooperate. From a production standpoint, we should have weatherproofed the venue so the show could go on rain or shine. With a live event, you only get one chance for success so you always need to plan and budget for the worst so you can deliver the optimal experience no matter what.” – Ross Cooper

This difficulty of planning for a big brand activation isn’t always from an increase in bodies, though that creates its own challenges. Complications also arise simply because brand activations at big conferences tend to be more elaborate. 

Jeff stresses that things just go wrong sometimes, no matter how much you’ve prepared. Not that you should throw planning out the window, mind you.

Planning and preparedness help minimize the likelihood of these challenges surfacing or at the very least help mitigate them when they do arise. However, thankfully, I have not had many experiences that fall into this category. Most of the ‘hiccups’ and/or ‘hurdles’ I have dealt with have been relatively minor and have not affected the overall brand activation outcomes. Knock wood.” – Jeff Lund

When it comes to important brand activations at massive conventions and festivals, remember Murphy’s Law: everything that can go wrong will go wrong. The bigger a show, the more complicated the activation becomes, the more likely snafus are to build up.

Planning and experience, however, can get ahead of these complications. Most of the time, anyway.

Big Activations Require Experience

As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts in the process of getting your brand into a major convention. Luckily, if you start your planning early enough, have strong attention to detail, and work with knowledgeable partners, even the largest brand activations can go smoothly.

Reach out to Inspira Marketing today to talk about creating your brand activation at the convention of your dreams. 

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