Event360: Brands and agencies share their budget-busting tips

Begg, Steel, Oates, Balfour and Holden answered the audience's Big Questions (Julian Dodd)
Begg, Steel, Oates, Balfour and Holden answered the audience's Big Questions (Julian Dodd)

Experiential summit Event360 kicked off today (23 June) with the session Big Questions Live, where representatives from brands and agencies shared their tips for cutting live events budgets.

The session featured Sophie Begg, vice president Personal and Corporate Banking Events Team at Barclays; Yvonne Holden, general manager of events at BMW; Kyra Oates, head of PR and events at Benefit Cosmetics; David Balfour, managing and creative partner at Lightblue Worldwide; and Rory Steel, managing director of Steely Fox.

Barclays – Use your relationships

Begg said that to cut budgets, Barclays looks at avoiding expensive speaker costs. "At our last digital conference, every speaker we brought in was free," she explained.

"We used relationships we had built with mentors, clients and even agencies we've worked with and trust. Use your network."

Steely Fox – Use key influencers

When working on experiential events for alcohol brands such as Hendrick's, Steely Fox often goes to key influencers, particularly mixologists, to tighten costs. Steel said: "Bartenders often want to be associated and work with the brand.

"It's very much a two-way relationship: the brand gets their product served the way they want it and the influencers get to have themselves, and their product, showcased."

He added later that venue staffing is sometimes an issue for his agency, as alcohol brands often want their product served in a particular way. "Venues may not always be up to this," he explained. "We look for spaces that we can take complete control of, or look to bring own staff in.

"It might cost more but means we can control that key interaction."

Benefit – Think creatively and use key trends

Oates used Benefit's Paint Party as an example of an event it held without an eye-watering budget. The brand invited bloggers into a room filled with paint pistols, a splash zone and balloon bursting shooting gallery to celebrate the launch of its new colourful make-up range.

She said: "We used Periscope to broadcast the event and it went crazy; two days later it was being covered by the major event titles. We looked at who we wanted to talk to and jumped on board a trend quickly.

"If we'd have planned it out, and gone with a huge budget, it never would have worked."

Lightblue and BMW – Collaborate

Both Balfour and Holden cited events where they brought together two brands to create an experiential event with a spread cost. Lightblue managed to get its client Budweiser activating at a wide range of venues at last year's World Cup by collaborating with other brands.

He added that Lightblue iis currently working on a collaboration with Adidas and Nissan.

Holden agreed it was a good tactic to take, "especially in the sports environment, that's where we see the best ROI."

But she added as a warning: "We find that agencies see a big brand and imagine there's a huge budget. Unfortunately, that's not always the case."

More: Event360: Live blog - as it happens

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