Scott Hutchison

I Survived #EMS2016, and Learned Quite a Bit

Marketers from across the globe touched down in Denver, CO this week for Event Marketer’s 2016 Experiential Marketing Summit (EMS). A furious 48 hours spent barnstorming the sessions, speed-briefings, keynotes, classes and workshops left me with more than a few new contacts, a heightened sense of inspiration and some headline thoughts:

1) Virtual reality is becoming an actual reality 

The team at Helios kicked off Wednesday with a deep dive into the exciting new opportunities for VR within event strategies. This technology, both hardware and platform development, is becoming increasingly affordable right at the same time as consumer curiosity is piquing. Brands who are able to bring consumers into a physical footprint, then convert them into an immersive VR experience, will have unlocked the closest you can get to a completely captive audience. Once they’re in, they’re in. So much opportunity in this space right now.


2) We sure do use a lot of buzzwords

If you’re reading this post, you’re likely a marketer as well so Im sure this is no new revelation. Programmatic, storytelling, data-driven approaches, native messaging, holistic, influencers, tastemakers, contextual relevancy, KPI’s, social aggregation, social moderation, blah, blah, blah. This said, I’m guilty of being a sucker for a fresh new buzzword and I got it today from Chobani CMO Peter McGuinness: ‘Phigital’ as the convergence of physical and digital engagement. Not just a cool word, it’s built around the recognition of this 2-ingredient recipe for successful event marketing in 2016. Join me as an early adopter of this one.


3) Novelty wins

Through it all, it’s about bringing in consumers and helping them have a bit more fun with your brand. Simple as that. I spent a good amount of time meeting smart people, with really smart ideas, throughout the exhibit floor. Some really big ideas on display, and some functional ones as well. My winner was this innovative take on a shareable photo station…I give you, the Selfie Mirror (check this thing out…really slick).

4) Be bold

Event Marketer co-founder Dan Hanover broke down the anatomy of Experiential, but I’ll admit I gravitated to the far right of his slide. If I had a nickel for every time I heard this notion while at EMS I’d be a rich man, and for good reason. We’ve moved to a point where brands no longer need to be shy about including their story in a consumer experience. Data shows that consumers are willing, open and receptive to brands they believe in. Being safe is no longer safe, 2016 is the year to really go for it.


Off to the airport, heading home with much to ponder and infuse into the work we develop for our clients. A fun couple days, and I’m already looking forward to #EMS2017.




Categories: Event Marketing, Experiential, Featured, Thought Leadership