Creative Edge: "Consumers are fine with a branded cultural experience as long as it's good"

Phillip Maggs, Catherine Botibol and Gareth Dimelow spoke about The Standout Event Experience
Phillip Maggs, Catherine Botibol and Gareth Dimelow spoke about The Standout Event Experience

Catherine Botibol, owner and creative chief of PD3, has spoken in defence of brands creating creative events for their audiences, stating: "Consumers are fine with a brand bringing them a cultural experience as long as it's good."

Botibol, who has worked with the likes of Dr. Marten and Ray-Ban, spoke on the first panel session of Event and C&IT’s Creative Edge summit today (21 September). She was joined by the session’s chair Gareth Dimelow, head of strategy and planning at George P Johnson, and Phillip Maggs, creative technology director at Brandfuel.

Botibol said that while consumers may have been more cynical of brands’ involvement in cultural events 30 years ago, nowadays, corporate companies are just as much involved in setting the agenda as artists are. 

"I truly believe that brands are part of art and culture in the world today," she said. "But if you’re a brand and you put on a gig, people need to enjoy it as much as they would enjoy one created by a promoter.

"Events and experiences are the perfect opportunity for brands to prove their authenticity within marketing." 

Dimelow agreed, stating that brands benefit from presenting an experience to consumers, then leaving them to enjoy it. He said: "No-one wants to give up their time and go to a sales-focused event.

"Brands should step back, and be confident that the consumer will remember how the brand made the experience happen, rather than constantly reminding them of that throughout the event."

Technology’s place

The panel then touched upon how brands should best utilise technology at events. DisneyWorld’s billion-dollar investment, Magic Band was held up to be a prime example of tech in the live experience sector, as Maggs stated: "A child can walk into the park and Mickey Mouse will know their name.

"That for me is the ultimate of technology - it makes the experience even better and makes everything seamless."

Botibol highlighted HSBC’s Wimbledon campaign as a good example of a brand properly implementing virtual reality (VR), however she added: "Most [VR experiences] that I’ve seen have been quite bad.

"They’re showing tech and the brand off rather than being interesting for the consumer."

Maggs stated another of VR's pitfalls: that it can only serve one consumer at a time. "VR makes for very insular experiences," he said. "Events exist to bring people together, and while people can get excited singularly, the creative experience is bigger than the sum of its parts.

"It’s sort of a juxtaposition of what we’re trying to achieve [as event planners]."

Dimelow rounded off the session by imploring the audience to ask why they want to implement event tech within their events.

Follow the day's happenings via Event online and the hashtag #CreativeEdge15.

More: Event and C&IT's Creative Edge summit kicks off in Brighton

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