Philly Creative Guide

Guest Columnist

Randy Lee Hartwig

The Development of Event Marketing as an Industry
by Randy Lee Hartwig, 1 Nov 2008

Randy is the Executive Director of The Art Department Sets & Props LLC. He has worked on production for 30 years in theatre, photography, film and television. He has designed, engineered or built over 1,000 sets in NYC, LA, Chicago and Philadelphia. His credits range from Saturday Night Live to LaMaMa, etc. You can reach Randy at: [email protected]

Event Marketing is an evolving segment of an ever changing industry. It is essentially the creation of an event for the media and/or the public to draw attention to, or promote a product, brand, cause or organization. The event business is based on a company's desire to raise awareness of its brand or product.

Advertisers have been struggling to create brand loyalty and connect to the consumers more directly for the past decade. In past years brand loyalty or brand commitment was much higher than it has been in recent years. Through the 50's and 60's brands were successful in protecting themselves against their competition. Car manufacturers developed loyalty like baseball teams. Laundry detergent was a point of pride among housewives.

Advertising messages have become more and more diluted from the increase in programming in the media, the expansion of the world wide web, and the constant search for opportunities to advertise that has reached even to the inside of port-a-potties. The average American is exposed to 250 commercial messages every day. The consumer has grown increasingly numb to the constant barrage of advertising. Add to this competition for the attention of the consumer the cost of media advertising and what has developed is a fertile ground for direct contact with the consumer.

When you total the mounting costs of the creative, the production, and the media time or ad space to convey the message it is costing more and more per person that the message finally reaches, with less and less return. Media advertising seems as though it is always a gamble as well, because the effectiveness of the message is always a variable and what worked last week doesn't always work this week. It is always a struggle to detail the content of media and print advertising to convey the use or value of the product or the personality of the brand.

In walks an idea that brings all those things into focus, an organized event that gets media coverage for free, connects with the public one on one, builds brand loyalty and really effectively communicates the message. Events that include the public in activities or expose them to a celebrity expose them to an experience that develops their connection to the brand or raises their awareness of the product is cheap by comparison to all other forms of advertising.

It's not as if it's a new idea that no one has ever had there aren't any of those left. Publicity stunts are as old as advertising itself, going back to pole sitters and round the world races. Increasingly marketing plans are diverting dollars into brand experiences for consumers that draw media attention and are killing two birds with one stone; great public relations and great consumer relations bundled into a better dollar for dollar value than most of the advertising dollars that they are spending.

Events that are designed to bring the product and the brand directly to the public with entertainment value or contact with celebrities or sports figures is extremely effective dollar for dollar. Which explains, in a nutshell, why the industry has grown so quickly and so extensively. The event industry has developed much like the film and television industry developed evolving from one form to another as the technology and the industry grew. Now it is a multi billion dollar industry serving both the corporate and privately owned business world with a plate full of services.

Unlike the film and television industry however, the event business lacks the structure that comes with maturity of service. In film there is an AICP form that lists all of the job categories that you usually see listed in the back end of a film. Each of those people serves a role in the making of a film and over the years each of those roles has grown more defined. It is clear in most companies who is responsible for what and how it is double checked and who makes sure that there is a microphone on the talent and who makes sure that the voice gets recorded.

Marketing events are much like film shoots or television shoots in that everyone shows up in a place and converts it into an environment where a performance takes place. The event business however is fractured somewhat in that the agencies hire subcontractors who all show up separately and are seldom coordinated well and often times end up tripping over one another and something is always forgotten or left to the last minute. What the event industry needs is more structure, more maturity. They need to approach an event more like a theatre performance or a film shoot where every detail is trusted to professionals that assume the responsibility to perform. It needs to develop more coordination of services. It will in time fall into place but if I could contribute one thing to this business it would be better coordination of services.

Print Article Brought to you by: Randy Lee Hartwig | Executive Director; The Art Department Sets & Props LLC.

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