Case study: DHL's employee of the year event in San Francisco

Part five of our State of the Industry: Corporate Report is an in-depth look at DHL's big three-day event for its staff.



There were three main objectives for event agency Brand Brewery in producing DHL's Employee of the Year event in San Francisco. First of all, they needed to curate a memorable event that lasted in people’s minds long after it ended.

Secondly, to provide a service that incorporated multiple parts from off-site activities, the celebration of employees and the business as a whole with its charity partners.

The third objective was to clearly display and celebrate the growth in the client’s company and transport delegates to the late 1960s, incorporating the charity ‘DHLs Got Heart'.

In keeping with previous DHL events, a dedicated local charity/organisation was chosen to work with, so that attendees could give back to the community. It would be a teddy bear making activity, with toys donated to a local children’s charity.


An employee of the year idea was developed to create a fun and rewarding event to celebrate the hard work and exceptional service employees have shown across the Americas region.

This three-day event welcomed more than 150 employees from over 20 countries and incorporated the employee of the year awards as well as celebrating DHL’s 50th anniversary.

Brand Brewery curated a series of event activities and dinners which took place over three days in San Francisco, which was the birthplace of DHL in 1969.

A celebratory awards dinner and afterparty transported delegates to the year 1969 when DHL first made its mark in the USA.

Using an artistic set design clearly depicting the late 60s theme paid tribute to this history.

The use of a personally curated image wall displaying past and present images of employees gave a personal touch to the event, leaving every delegate in the room smiling and reminiscing about how far they had come.

With the second day full of cultural surprises, delegates got the opportunity to choose from a selection of bespoke San Francisco experiences such as a cable car tour of the city.

They also biked across the Golden Gate bridge and took part in a tour of the notorious Alcatraz prison.

Afternoon activities were followed by a company picnic with the day culminating in a group dinner, where attendees mingled with their fellow colleagues.

The final day of the event was full of interactive activities from charity activations, internal charity awards and a reflective awards ceremony full of nostalgia and celebration.

Providing delegates with an easy to use registration system allowed each individual the opportunity to easily register and submit information through an intuitive and personalised system.

Throughout every aspect of the event, the Brand Brewery team handled all management aspects from hotel management to supplier liaison and all creative content.

The agency drew on its creative skills to curate a memorable design that flowed throughout each process of the event from registration to post-event comms.

A professionally designed, handcrafted mural was commissioned specially for the event and a photo wall was also developed incorporating delegates' younger selves, documenting their journey of growth within DHL.


There were various challenges overcome on the day including a last-minute illness from a key client member.

The timing of the event also meant simultaneously managing a graduate day and a Manchester United golf day during the same time period.


"When it comes to corporate events, we are simply in awe of the expertise that Brand Brewery bring to the table, not to mention wrapped up with a host of amazing attitudes and smiles," said DHL Express Americas vice president Shonagh Baigent.

"Rob and his incredible team have helped us deliver the most memorable events around the world – keeping us on track, meeting deadlines, guiding the onsite partners on how best to deliver quality service – the pre and onsite work that is performed like registration, food, means unplanned issues simply disappear – help which is very welcome in the middle of the storm."

"I want to thank everyone at Brand Brewery for the help in making the inaugural Americas Cup Employee Engagement event, as well as the Employee of the Year celebrations unprecedented successes. It really makes a difference to work with people who know what they are doing and are willing to do what it takes to make it happen."

Fact File

Client: DHL

Location: The Fairmont, San Francisco

Event: Employee of the Year

Date: 12-14 March 2019

Number of delegates: 160+

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