Pre-event planning: Network Rail runs its You Make the Difference Awards scheme annually, with 2012 marking the tenth anniversary of the event. The company has held the awards at venues varying from London hotels to the Imperial War Museum Duxford.
Agency Crown was appointed in July, with the awards set to take place in November at Battersea Evolution. A total of 550 guests, including nominees, senior managers and partners were invited to the event, which needed to create an atmosphere of celebration and recognition.
Objectives: Network Rail marketing services events executive Natalie Paffey explains: "Network Rail's You Make the Difference Awards scheme has been running successfully for ten years. Our aim is to inspire our employees to go the extra mile for our customers, the company and each other; and to reward and recognise them when they do."
Meanwhile, Crown's account director, Paul Querfurth, adds that a key goal was to "amplify the recognition of winners and nominees".
Challenges: Although Querfurth says there were no particular logistical challenges that stood out, the scale of Battersea Evolution meant the agency needed to devise ways to ensure attendees were overwhelmed by the event's message, rather than the size of the venue.
Crown did this by focusing "inwards on tables and the stage", rather than the venue walls. It also separated the welcome reception area from the awards and dining area, so there could be a 'reveal' moment.
"It was essential that the reward and recognition on the night came close to matching the work and effort that the Network Rail employees themselves had put in," explains Querfurth.
Solution: Battersea Evolution provided the blank canvas on which Crown could create a Network Rail-focused vision and a glittering environment.
Comedian Al Murray was chosen as the host and, to match the scale of the space and the occasion, a super-wide 16m HD screen was installed into the set, driving the awards along with animated video graphics, imagery and quotes from the winners.
Live cameras were used to take the action to the furthest seat. Lighting effects, pyrotechnics, and upbeat music accompanied the winners onto the stage. The lighting effects also featured at table level with 55 centrepieces, each controlled from the lighting desk, allowing for coloured patterns to be created across the room.
After the awards, the guests moved through to a bar area featuring the Rail Live Stage, where they were entertained by two professional Network Rail bands.
Client verdict: Network Rail's Paffey says: "This event gathered together those who stand out in our organisation and it was important to us as organisers that every aspect of the evening reflected their excellence and hard work. From the choice of talent to the table settings via screen animations and stage management, everything worked superbly."
Post-event analysis: Network Rail polled key stakeholders including managers and senior managers following the event and, according to Querfurth, the "feedback was overwhelmingly positive".
"The element that stood out for me was the level at which Network Rail's employees were engaged with the business," he adds.
Company: Network Rail
Event: You Make the Difference Awards
Group size: 550
Dates: 7 November 2012
Venues: Battersea Evolution
Spring 2012: Venue chosen by client
June 2012: Competitive pitch process
July 2012: Crown appointed
7 Nov 2012: Awards take place