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FEATURE

Best of 2010: 10 Ambitious Events

Go big or go home? These brands staged large events as integral parts of their 2010 marketing plans.

Photo: Courtesy of Red Bull

Target’s Multifaceted Marketing Platforms
Target is known for over-the-top spectacles, and 2010 saw the retailer pull off a massive publicity stunt in New York to showcase fall fashions: Dubbed the “Kaleidoscopic Fashion Spectacular,” the production used the entire southern facade of the Standard hotel as an illuminated billboard. Producer Mother New York placed 66 dancers, 156 LED lights, and a warehouse’s worth of fiber-optic cable in the windows of 155 rooms to create patterns including a bull’s-eye and a 14-story dancing man. The brand also staged a block party in Harlem for the opening of its first Manhattan store, created a 4,000-person volunteer drive-cum-party during the National Conference on Volunteering and Service, and hosted more than 2,000 guests at a welcome concert and reception to kick off the National Urban League’s conference in Washington.

Red Bull’s Sports Competitions

This year Red Bull solidified its place as the host and sponsor of extreme and unusual sports events by bringing a leg of its international flying competition to New York’s congested and politically sensitive air space. Staged over the Hudson between Manhattan, Jersey City, and Ellis Island, the Air Race World Championship took more than three years to organize and involved permission from 16 government agencies. In 2010, the beverage brand also moved its Manny Mania AM series skateboarding contest from Miami to Orlando and returned its Flugtag air show to the U.S. after a one-year hiatus. Red Bull is also a big player in music, sponsoring bashes at festivals like South by Southwest and hosting its own contests and tours, including a DJ competition and an MC battle.

Amway China Incentives
A five-gala series for Amway China spanned the month of June, with a total budget of $80 million. The programming consisted of five events for five different waves of Chinese sales reps who visited Southern California as part of an incentive. Each group experienced the same program of activities and gala evening. Roughly 13,000 attendees participated, with 1,800 to 3,000 at each gala, all held at the Anaheim Convention Center and produced by EventWorks. The programming included novelty acts like human fountains, walking buffets, and stiltwalkers, plus musicians, with 50 live performers in all.

Sprint’s Las Vegas Launches
Sprint took to Las Vegas with splashy, tech-heavy events that drew crowds and buzz. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Sprint announced its exclusive deal with Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot by Sierra Wireless at an event where attendees visited demo stations set up as individual vignettes—like a park with trees and concession stands and a dorm room with bunk beds and a cafeteria. And at the International C.T.I.A. Wireless show in March, the brand launched the first 4G phone with a Kabuki drop curtain that disappeared to reveal the party space and a hologram of the new phone to 300 guests. Fresh Wata produced both events.

Audi’s Art of Progress Pavilion
Though it took place in 2009, too late for last year’s wrap-up, it’s still impressive: Audi created a 45,000-square-foot temporary structure to celebrate its 100th anniversary and to launch its newest A8 model during Art Basel Miami Beach, from December 3 to 6. On the beach just north of the Eden Roc Renaissance Miami Beach, the Art of Progress pavilion took structure design company EventStar six weeks to erect and consisted of an arena where the car was displayed, an art exhibition space, and an outdoor lounge that remained open to the public throughout the festival. “We looked at different buildings in Miami, but there were none that suited our needs,” said Anja Kaehny, manager of lifestyle communications and social responsibility for Audi. “So the idea of doing it near the Eden Roc was to create a temporary museum that would have a balcony opening onto the ocean.”

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Grand Opening

After more than two years of construction, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter officially opened on June 18 at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure theme park. The park hosted an invite-only party on June 16 with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and several supporting cast members. The event spotlighted the park’s replicas of signature venues from the books and movies, like Ollivander’s Wand Shop and Zonko’s Joke Shop. Universal also employed entertainment elements from the stories, including the arrival of the Knight Bus and a performance by the Frog Choir in Hogsmeade Village. Late in the evening, Radcliffe led guests in saying “Lumos!” to illuminate the Hogwarts Castle replica, upon which Universal projected images from the movies as a fireworks display took place overhead, choreographed to music from the films.

Hermès New York and Chicago Store Openings

For Hermès’s stateside events in 2010—which included the opening of a New York men’s store in February and a Chicago flagship in June—no detail went overlooked. For the men’s store, the French fashion house transformed 20,000 square feet of raw space in the Park Avenue Armory into a leisure spot with four vignettes: a travel room, a library, a game room, and a jazz club. Around 25 percent of the event’s furnishings were custom made. Chicago’s store opening lured 700 guests and included stiltwalkers wearing horse heads and custom Hermès suits. A team of 14 assistants tied branded ribbons onto hay bales, which were imported from a local farm that morning.

Lexus Live
For the world debut of the new luxury hybrid vehicle, the Lexus CT 200h, Lexus Canada showcased two early prototypes of the car—and staged a concert series with performances by four Canadian acts—at a three-day event dubbed Lexus Live in Toronto’s Distillery District. Lexus called on Los Angeles-based firm AMCI to design and produce the event, which centered on the use of interactive iPad stations that enabled attendees to provide feedback. To attract the right audience, Attention Span planned a concert series throughout the weekend, drawing more than 7,000 people. Chad Yee, marketing manager for Lexus Canada, reported that 81 percent of attendees said the hybrid changed their perspective on the brand.

Washington National Opera Ball
The Opera Ball is consistently ranked among the most high-profile events on the Washington social calendar, and the 2010 iteration—which raised $1.5 million—is still being talked about. For the 650 invited guests, the evening began at one of 22 embassies for dinner. They spent the rest of the evening at the Embassy of the Russian Federation, experiencing five themed rooms created by Sandi Hoffman Special Events that celebrated Russia’s rich history and bright future. An ice room held seven nine-foot ice sculptures that depicted great figures from Russian history, and a re-creation of St. Petersburg’s Winter Palace had a winter-themed courtyard, complete with falling snow and dancing ballerinas to celebrate the upcoming 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Institute of Contemporary Art Gala
Boston’s ICA revamped its annual spring fund-raiser by adding an after-party—one of the hardest tickets to land this spring. The May evening kicked off with a cocktail party and dinner in the new One Marina Park building in Fan Pier, adjacent to the institute. Afterward, the 430 guests were guided by large arrows, made from white fluorescent lights, across the boardwalk to the museum to join 300 additional attendees at the after-party. “It was a nice way to let people come and not invest in a major ticket price,” said Susie Allen, the museum’s director of special events. The evening raised $800,000 for the museum, up from just over $500,000 in 2009.


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