2001-2011: How the FiFi Awards Changed Formats to Keep Attendees Happy

By Anna Sekula July 29, 2011, 8:45 AM EDT

Photo: Marina Fragoso Senra for BizBash

In the past eight years, the Fragrance Foundation has made a number of big moves for its annual awards event—the so-called Oscars of the fragrance industry—switching the location, seating arrangement, and format of the evening several times. Indeed, each change of venue since the 2004 move from Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall to the Hammerstein Ballroom has been accompanied by a new layout and adjustment to the show’s program.

The regular revamps are the doing of Dalzell Productions, which has worked closely with the foundation and president Rochelle Bloom to keep the event fresh and improve on past efforts while still honoring the best in the perfume trade each year. One challenge: Since the first FiFi Awards in 1972, the number of attendees has swelled, and the guest list now includes junior executives as well as the celebrities who have a hand in developing their own lines of aromatic products.

One of the biggest changes occurred in 2007, when, after three consecutive years at the Hammerstein, Bloom and Dalzell Productions opted to scrap the seated dinner and show configuration in favor of lounge spaces and small plates at the World Financial Center’s Winter Garden & Plaza. The cocktail hour was replaced by a quick, 45-minute presentation of the awards and followed by a reception in a nightclub-style setting that allowed guests to mingle.

“What our industry loves is networking. Even though they are competitors, they get great satisfaction out of schmoozing,” Bloom said about the decision. “We knew it was a big risk…we thought, ‘The worst thing that can happen is it fails and we revert to last year’s format.” But, the concept proved so successful that the organization has employed it, in some form or another, at every event since.

More recently, the team has incorporated an after-party and looked to accommodate younger employees of beauty companies by creating additional seating space. In 2010, the balcony area of the 69th Regiment Armory was opened up to host a bigger audience and live musical entertainment marked the start of the post-ceremony festivities. And this past May, the event’s setup offered a dedicated area for younger guests to watch a simulcast of the proceedings.

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