A select group of employees from a leading automotive premium brand, were invited to Frankfurt to a Leadership 2020 event. This event was to promote cultural change in the brand. The standard corporate branding was replaced with vibrant colours and bold, non-corporate fonts, signifying a big break from previous events.
Aside from simply the branding, the event aim was to create a new feeling throughout the employees. It was to reinforce key principles and “game changers” – broad concepts that the employees could relate back to their approach to work and make real cultural change across the organisation to great mutual benefit.
The event was thoroughly experiential with a mixture of sessions, activities and exploration. All elements of the event were designed with impact in mind, from enhanced creative F&B to innovative tech used for storytelling.
After the success of the clients launch event Touch was briefed to plan a similar event for the brand’s UK employees so that the cultural change became inherent across their organisation. The brief was to achieve maximum impact, with minimal budget on an 8 week planning timeframe.
Event brief for CHANGE THE GAME | Leadership 2020
The four-day event had to be located within 30 minutes of the client HQ in Milton Keynes, hosting 125 attendees per day, so in total 500 employees.
However, this was not just about a fun few days of team building activities for the staff. It had a wider purpose. It was to act as a platform to START the CHANGE within their organisation. Therefore, longevity of the concept had to be integral from the beginning.
The event was built around 8 key principles, each of which required an experience to communicate and reinforce them in an innovative way.
Initially the groups were greeted and registered as if they were attending a ‘normal’ conference – lulling them into the impression that this was business as usual. The surprise element was in the form of a DISRUPTION; their Managing Director appeared on the screen and interrupted the dull slides being delivered by our facilitator (this served a double purpose as it enabled him to be ‘present’ when he couldn’t attend).
Delegates were then led into the ‘Change the Game’ area. The shock was clear to see on the guests’ faces as they entered a world of ‘CHANGE’ with LED lights, glowing furniture, colourful chairs, key principle branded zones and neon accessories – completely different to the client’s normal corporate identity.
After the shock had subsided, but with the buzz still filling the room, an opening plenary, with ‘PURPOSE’ at its core, was delivered by video footage by a key member of the client’s international management team.
The delegates were then split into teams and led to their first ‘zone’. Each zone (created by shell scheme and Key Principle branded panels) was an activity devised around a Principle (see below). At this point, guests were made to feel a part of the change by receiving a colourful t-shirt (indicating their team colour) that had a slogan on relevant to the ‘Change the Game’ philosophy: “WHY NOT NOW!” “ACCEPT FAILURE AS PART OF THE PROCESS” “ENJOY IT. BECAUSE IT’S HAPPENING”. “T-shirt Tuesdays” are now a ‘thing’ in the client’s HQ!
Zone activities ranged from origami butterfly making (learning), partner maze challenge (empowerment), to buzz wire racing (driven to win), all within fully branded and immersive environments.
Even the food was ‘Changed’ from your standard conference fare. It was an inspiring delicious menu based on street food concept with various international cuisines. These were served from glowing stations with neon serving dishes and accessories. The ‘treat stand’ had display cabinets created especially for the event to display melt-in-your-mouth brownies & desserts. There was also a relaxed, ‘help yourself’ fridge fully stocked with premium soft drinks.
Communications & App
Pre, during and post event comms were a significant part of this event. To succeed it was essential to grow excitement in advance and intimate a ‘Change’ but without revealing any secrets about the live event. The mobile app was key to this as it was used for all pre-event communication, so effectively it was our chance to make a ‘first impression’. Standard corporate colours were the theme with some small indications that something was afoot….
Onsite comms were bright, vibrant & importantly delivered key messages relevant to the programme; Stickers in the bathrooms ‘Ideas can happen in the most unlikely places’; Coffee cups with key principles; stickers with attention grabbing slogans ‘Be bold’ ‘Do it with passion or not at all’ ‘It’s not a game; it’s a change’.
It was essential that the experience wasn’t impacted for the participants on the latter days so to fulfil the ‘need’ to post status updates, rather than social media being used, a ‘tweet wall’ was displayed with the live feed from the App. Delegates images and comments filled the screen and helped enhance the excitement during the event.
A post-event engagement plan was crucial to build on the momentum and buzz from the live dates….
Post-event office makeover
On the Monday, following the live dates, staff arrived at their HQ expecting a normal day. However, they were greeted with colourful posters, origami butterflies fluttering in display cabinets, large wall hangings, bright meeting areas, postcards drumming home the key messages and branded merchandise for them to keep on their desks to remind them of the new culture that was just beginning.
The App was transformed to a colourful platform where staff could remind themselves of the key principles; send images of them changing the game.
The live event was truly just a platform to start the culture change within the organisation.
Client contact was a ‘swarm’ team of 3 internal staff. They had a ‘day job’ to do but were also given full responsibility for this event (they were not a dedicated event team).
Due to budget constraints (and internal data security) the client managed delegate registration internally. This posed a challenge for the logistics team as we were unable to control the guest movement / updates that are inevitable with such an event.
The client also provided ‘Change Hosts’ to assist the event team with guest movement. This enabled the staffing budget to be kept low but also meant that the logistics team had to ‘train’ their inexperienced helpers to fulfill an important onsite role.
Members of the client’s management team were key in delivering parts of the programme however they were unable to attend every day. We had to find innovative ways to have these key individuals involved, even though they were not actually there – and all without affecting audience perception.
Time frame was also a major pressure. From approval to delivery was only 8 weeks, and needed to include full logistics, communications and concept delivery for the live event, and a post event engagement plan to keep the momentum going….
Although the venue was perfect for its location and the services it provided, it was a truly blank canvas. Production had to transform the drab, dated aircraft hangar into a vibrant event space to enable the content to be delivered in a fun, innovative way to inspire cultural change.