Event strategies under the microscope at Brand Book Live

Technology, event formats and budgets were among issues debated during C&IT's Brand Book Live event last night (12 November).

Brand Book Live brought together 40 event planners on 12 November
Brand Book Live brought together 40 event planners on 12 November

Brands and agencies

Event planners from the UK's leading brands and top agencies shared key challenges and opportunities for the year ahead during Brand Book Live at the Radisson Blu Edwardian, Hampshire hotel in London's Leicester Square.

The event was an opportunity for event planners to delve into the issues facing six industry sectors: automotive; financial; food and drink; IT/telecoms; pharmaceutical; and retail.

More than 40 event organisers shared their experiences of the past year, including the effects of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as forecasting the events landscape in 2013.

Agencies including Grass Roots, George P Johnson, Smyle, Crown Business Communications, DRP Group, Carlson Wagonlit, Line Up, DBMT and BCD M&I were among those joining the discussions on issues such as budgets, client expectations and sustainability.

Key points raised by each sector:

Automotive

  • Product launches continuing but brands looking at them differently – not always the big global launch, more local level launches, and pooling resources across brands to save costs.
  • Incentives slowly coming back but the focus is not just on sales performance – factors such as customer satisfaction and after sales playing a key role.
  • 2013 is looking positive but budgets are still not signed off, even for events planned for Jan/Feb so lead times can be challenging.
  • Lots of potential for new business wins for agencies in the sector

Financial

  • 2012 was largely a positive year for the financial sector
  • Events remain under the radar - perception is still a key challenge
  • Christmas parties will never recover to previous levels – they are now smaller local level events
  • 2013 outlook – budgets to remain flat and it will be tough to maintain levels of 2012

Food & drink

  • Olympics has been good for the sector at sponsor level and providing hospitality options
  • Overseas travel is an option again for meetings and incentives
  • Opportunities for agencies to grow in this sector
  • Some agencies are forecasting a cautious 2013

IT/telecoms

  • Short-termism is a key challenge, with reactive events in response to R&D advances, as well as set calendar events, making it hard to plan ahead.
  • As a fast-growing sector, it is an exciting arena in which to work, with competition between companies such as Samsung and Apple driving new products.
  • Agencies need to be creative and flexible, but the need to have a culture that resonates with the brand is more important than being a large or established agency, so there are lots of opportunities for smaller agencies.
  • Sustainability will play a large part in the future of the market, as technology helps other businesses meet sustainability goals.

Pharmaceutical

  • The pharma sector is not recession proof, contrary to popular belief, and in 2012 it was had a negative year due to the economic turmoil/ tougher regulation and in some cases embargoes on travel.
  • Contrary to newspaper reports, the table reported that research and development is being heavily invested in to bring new drugs to market.
  • Small and foreign meetings have had budgets cut, but Christmas parties still occur. 2013 is expected to be largely the same, but many bookings have occurred further into the future due to congresses.
  • The Olympics was shunned across the board by pharma companies, unless they had a sporting tie, with hospitality still a murky area.

Retail

  • There is no broad brush approach in retail, with some companies choosing to focus on face-to-face and achieving success, with others cost-saving through digital methods and seeing mixed results.
  • The whole marcomms strategy is more important than an individual event.
  • A focus on driving value over spend – clients might reduce the number of nights, or go for a four-star hotel rather than a five-star.
  • Increased acknowledgement of culture both internationally and within the company across regions.

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