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Redefining the events industry in the time of Covid-19 and beyond

For entertainment, religion, sport and business, we gather together because the dynamics of groups create engagement, excitement, and inspiration.
The coronavirus has put a stop to these gatherings for the foreseeable future... but of course communication must continue, and in this age of live streaming there are plenty of solutions available for experiential marketers; it’s all about being creative.

Using remote channels, from talkshow formats to structured reality consisting of part live content, part scripted video, to fully immersive virtual reality broadcasts direct to headsets, there are many ways content can be delivered virtually when physical events are not possible.

“The key,” says Jameson Hlongwane, Deputy MD of the VWV Group, “is to think about how your brand comes across on-screen. There is a huge difference between talking to camera in a web stream and delivering a curated brand experience.”

Nearly 40 years of award-winning experiential marketing has taught VWV that the quality of the engagement depends on more than just what channel you use. “How you design and deliver your content is critical,” says Hlongwane. “You need to keep it relevant and punctual and you need to deliver it as if you were talking to a friend or associate. Make it an interesting conversation, but with strong facilitation to drive attention. Also think of ways your audience can respond live with real-time interactivity. More than ever, we need to be storytellers.”

Richard Lowe, Head of VWV Interactive, has strong views on how technology can be used in the remote environment. “Of course streaming is not new to us. For years we’ve been streaming live events to those who could not be physically present,” says Lowe. “In light of the recent crisis, we’ve elevated the offering to exceptional standards, and created new and exciting formats with a mix of live and on-demand broadcast content and interactive tools to keep the audience engaged.”

Digital avatars, interactive content and gamification are just some of the techniques that VWV is using to enhance the live stream. The company is committed to using this situation as an opportunity to flex its creative muscles and challenge the way events are typically designed, produced and marketed. Looking at aspects like set and environment, technical and production quality, content strategy, distribution channels and tactics, and extending the occasion long after it has ended, means that brands are still able to deliver maximum impact when physical events are not possible.

“So, rather than wallow in despair,” argues Hlongwane, “we’re seeing Covid-19 as a brief; an opportunity to rethink experiential beyond mass gatherings, recalibrate and remind ourselves that experiential is a tactic, not a channel. From curated one-on-one experiences that are live-streamed to an audience of millions, to interactive broadcasts and social amplification strategies, remember that there are many alternatives out there. You just need to be creative. And when all the dust settles, our hybrid offering of physical and digital experiences will be more relevant than ever.”

As the situation with the coronavirus continues to escalate, there is uncertainty for how far into the future this will impact events and activations. But at VWV, Hlongwane says the team is prepared to continue delivering experiences no matter what happens over the coming months.

“From a business perspective, we're comfortable delivering engaging experiences no matter what the channel or circumstance,” he says. “Ultimately, every experiential marketer is a content creator and whether it be live or virtual, the goal still remains the same: to engage with the audience.”

15 Apr 2020 17:34

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