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2017 Experiential Marketing Summit Roundup

May 3rd-5th was the annual EM Summit produced by Event Marketer.  Hype attended and was a sponsor of the event, so I thought I would share some of my learnings. Every year Event Marketer puts on the ultimate training conference on the ultimate marketing discipline: Experiential Marketing. It is an opportunity to soak in a year’s worth of insights and ideas in a just a few short days. Hype joined more than 2,000 marketers from around the world as emerging trends were predicted and dissected, best practices were explained and some of the biggest case studies were shared. At the Summit, we didn’t just pass by the heads of experiential marketing from Pepsi, Microsoft, Twitter, Bacardi, American Express, Ford and dozens more in the hallway—they’re were our actual teachers, along with hand-picked design experts, strategy chiefs and bestselling authors.


And amongst all these outstanding people, there was a familiar (and bright) orange throughout the conference. Hype was a sponsor at the Summit again this year by providing notebooks, pens, and colorful post it notes to attendees. We used these Hype-supplied tools to take notes and bring them back to share with you!



Here are some of our favorite take-a-ways from the conference:


1. Find your “secret sauce”


secret sauce

Whether you are a brand or an agency (or working in grandma’s kitchen), it is important to know what makes you special. What will allow you to stand the test of time and how will your brand can be identified in a sea of logos. Debra Curtis, VP of Global Experiential Marketing for American Express was the keynote speaker on Thursday morning and she was incredibly inspirational. She has been with American Express for over 10 years and personally a customer of theirs since 1997. She knows the strength the brand carries and she explained its “secret sauce”. She had the help of her 3-year-old daughter in the audience, and given her current state of mind as a mother watching a lot of Disney shows (I am there with her with my two young boys), she described AMEX’s brand as Pascal- the adorable Disney chameleon from the movie “Tangled”. To those who might not know, Pascal is the true and loyal friend to Rapunzel. He is constantly cheering her up, rooting her on and refusing to allow her to take step backwards. To Deborah and to millions around the world, that is American Express’s positioning. This is the special sauce.




2. Doing good feels good.


Hype participated in the Event Industry Gives Back Charity Event for The Headstrong Project. Headstrong helps veterans to take their minds out of the past and off their pain, helping them to “heal the hidden wounds of war” and live positively in the present. Coproduced by Sparks and the Headstrong Project, we were able to partake in a charitable “build” with other members of the event industry community. We put together wellness kits for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan – the kits included a Yankee Candle, calming tea, therapeutic craft kits, journals, and we even took a photo and wrote a personal message in each journal so they knew where it was coming from. We all live our “busy” lives and I love that we are part of an industry that cares and puts the time in needed to help others in the community. Please check out and see how you can get involved, every little bit helps!




3. Challenge your teams to “surprise and delight” every step of the way.


This can be applied to so many parts of the experiential world – in and outside the office. We need to amplify the moments we have with our consumers. It starts with the ideation and creation of the events, and filters through to how we make those ideas come to life. As Colleen Bisconti, VP of Global Events for IBM (who by the way, does over 6,000 events a year), described it as the “evolution of events.” We went from “don’t just tell them, show them. To don’t just show them, have them experience it.  To where we are now: don’t just let them experience it, let them be immersed in it”! IBM does this by creating a fundamental approach to marketing and creates their “Diamond Teams” for events to produce fully immersed events.


We are challenged more than ever today to make something that matters.  Even in our own companies, we need to look at this and think about how we are immersing our employees, our teams, and ourselves to dig deeper and amplify the experiences. We are challenged all the time with the evolution of brand ambassadors and it’s important to always be evolving!! At the end of the day, that’s why we are in this industry. We are in the business of making people happy and we want to connect with them on an emotional level by surprising them every step of the way.



4. Networking Tips at Networking Events – Yes please!


EM Summit is also all about the networking. It is an opportunity to get your name out and your company’s name out in front of some of the biggest brands and agencies in the business. Networking is an art that not everyone can master and this year there was a session dedicated to helping us fine tune it. Of course, Hype attended since it was also a Women in Events (sorry no dudes allowed) session presented by Nicole Yeary, Founder of Ms. Tech. After turning an eight-person Facebook group into the tech industry’s largest social impact-focused organization, Nicole and her team provide women with the inspiration, knowledge and connections to reach their full potential. This session provided tips and advice for early-, mid-career and executive-level individuals who are committed to developing themselves as leaders through education, mentorship, networking and knowledge-sharing. And they had mimosas!


(Me drinking mimosas…I mean networking!)


If you follow me or know anything about me, I am a huge fan of empowering woman to be the best they can be. We should lift each other up personally and professionally. I coproduced an article last year on this subject and it’s important we talk about it. We need woman to be confident, to show up to the meetings, to pitch their ideas, and to be heard. She said it a few times and I loved it- “JUMP IN” – jump right in there and throw it yourself there. What do you have to lose? But the conversation wasn’t just about women selling themselves, it was about knowing yourself as a brand.

Just as I spoke about in the first point, knowing your “secret sauce”, Nicole posed the question “What do you want to be known for?”.



And this applies to brands, agencies, and individuals. What mark do you want to leave here (wherever you are)- what is your special sauce? I know mine but you’ll have to ask me yourself when we meet!