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CHICAGO Geared toward advertisers, the Tribune Media Group's annual iBall serves as a thank-you gesture. This year, the event also showcased the new Web site, mobile applications, and social media pages for the group's daily Red Eye newspaper. Held September 13 at Venue One, the 400-guest function had “more wow factor” than in years past, said Haley Carlson, event and sponsorships manager at Tribune Events Group.
“This year in particular was really about a new way of looking at Red Eye,“ Carlson said. “We have quite a few new things in our lineup, and we wanted to unveil them creatively to our advertisers. So it was trying to build out what we thought would be different and unique, things that we hadn't seen before.” Toward that end, the Tribune team presented Event Creative designer Kelly Wagner with a “Through a New Lens” theme. “We designed a fun, twisted event,” Wagner said.
In lieu of a traditional step-and-repeat, a board with the Red Eye logo had a hole cut into its bottom and fringed with sparkly streamers. Just beyond the shimmering curtain, a custom slide covered the venue's parking ramp, and guests made their arrival by traveling swiftly downhill while seated on skateboards. The unusual entrance proved to be a popular conversation-starter throughout the evening, with several guests greeting each other by giddily asking: “Did you do the slide?” (Or, in the case of one, announcing: “I want a slide redo. I used to surf, and I think I could've done it standing up.")
Outside the main party space, models in beaded masks and slinky black outfits posed on a custom Twister board adorned with logos for sponsors such as Fuze and Victoria beer. Guests could pose with the models on the branded boards and have keepsake photos snapped. The Victoria logo also appeared on an illuminated glass refrigerator filled with bottles of the product. Guests could pluck the drinks directly out of the fridges, though law required attendant waitstaff to open the bottles.
Other unusual tropes included an inverted lounge area. On one side of the space, furniture was on the floor and chandeliers hung from the ceiling; the reverse was true on the other side, where furniture hung from the ceiling and guests sipped cocktails at highboys made from upside-down chandeliers. “The Event Creative Team installed the majority of the decor, lighting, video, and furniture the night before,” Wagner said. “Drilling dozens of rigging points into the concrete ceiling to hang furniture upside down was quite the task … but worth it in the end.”