Favorite MAG Moments of 2016

What better way to round up a year at the michael alan group than to ping the crew and find out their favorite moments. Without further ado, here are 2016’s top moments, straight from the team.

“When our office finally agreed to push the Keurig aside to get the real deal. I think everyone agrees that having a coffee pot in the office really upped the ante. I’ve actually seen people standup & cheer when they hear someone just brewed – and yes, when I say people I’m talking about myself.”
Lenetta Pesotini, Account Manager

“When we tried to get pancakes at IHOP on International Pancake Day but there was a really long line and so we went to a diner across the street and still got our delicious fluffy pancakes. New York City is incredible in that way, sometimes the destination you are heading is not always where you end up but usually it is just as good or better!”
Heather Hamilton, Account Executive

“In the Staffing World, once in a blue moon, there’s a day when multiple activations fall on the same date. One of those this year was Thursday, June 16th. Besides activations in Atlanta, Chicago, DC, and LA, we also had three major ones in NYC which had a total staff of 130 working at simultaneously. So, the fact that it went pretty painless with the clients happy & the majority of the staff stepping up their game, it became one of my favorite MAG moments of the year.”
Marivic Tagala, Staffing Manager

“Getting a peak behind-the-scenes of the Tim Burton MoMA exhibit when the MAG Art Department attended the 99U Conference in May.”
David O’Neill, Art Director

Work Family

“My favorite MAG moment of 2016 began as a somber one… it was the morning after the election and a group of us were huddled in the conference room. On my way to work that morning, I felt very alone as I grappled with the unexpected outcome. But when my colleagues arrived, and we all assembled together – I was reminded that I am surrounded by a work family who shares in my fundamental beliefs and aspirations for our future. And for that, I felt truly blessed – and part of something very special.”
Erin Mills, Chief Operating Officer

“I love cracking open a new book, and it became even more fun when I was surrounded by coworkers diving into the same story. MAG Book Club was the best! Something I’m hoping to read in the coming year? Weird Ideas That Work by Robert I. Sutton.”
Melanie Slattery, Graphic Designer

“The Mountain Dew GUTS Aggro Crag! If you thought NYC had GUTS…This years Mountain Dew Aggro Crag Nickelodeon GUTS throwback challenge proved just that! An exact replica of the famous Aggro Crag mountain was erected in NYC and competitors of all walks of life came, conquered, and competed against one another over an epic match of king of the hill! My favorite moment of the event was seeing how all competitors celebrated atop the Crag, whether losing or winning, exemplifying great sportsmanlike NYC conduct! It was an unmatched competitive and celebratory moment in my 2016!”
Mark DiConzo, Project Manager

“When a bunny showed up at our food truck event!”
Molly Appel, Account Executive

Wedding Bells and Birthday Surprises

“When my fantastic co-workers threw me (and my co-brides in the office) a surprise bridal shower complete with a fathead of our my fiancee and a custom prize wheel. When we pitch that people really love prize wheels, we mean it. It’s all about the prize wheel.”
Elizabeth Jones, Senior Vice President

“Attending Eva’s wedding and seeing her walk down the aisle! Just one of three beautiful MAG brides that tied the knot this year!”
Rachel Jenkins, Account Executive

“When the office surprised me with an Apple Watch for my birthday.”
Jonathan Margolis, President and CEO

“Scheming up and sending out a fake brainstorm to surprise Jon with his gift.”
Eva Chung, Operations Manager

A Merry Celebration

“Definitely the MAG holiday party because it’s always fun to see your team in an environment outside of work. Secret Santa reveals were great because just when you were on to something and you thought you knew who, you’re always wrong! Everyone’s poems were ON POINT and of course the food and drinks were also bomb. :)”
Melissa Mach, Junior Account Executive

“Being a part-time MAGger, I really loved being with everyone at a holiday lunch because I don’t get to hang with everyone as much as I would like!”
Betsy Margolis, Special Events Coordinator

“Secret Santa! Getting cute notes and presents left on my desk.”
Devendra Singh, Graphic Designer

Last, But Never Least

“When Eva introduced us to Butterfinger cups. Life changing stuff.”
Amy Spielholtz, Senior Account Director

Case Study Spotlight: Flatiron District 2016 Holiday Programming

We assisted with driving traffic to the Flatiron District during the 2016 Holiday Season.

  • Produced a 1-day launch event to kick off the season, followed by (6) live plaza activations and a Winter Solstice event
  • Hosted a social media contest, a scavenger hunt, and a food drive competition throughout the 23-day program
  • Coordinated with a different beverage partner to be onsite each day and distributed over (1,500) hot beverages
  • Handled all outreach and coordination with over (65) local businesses in the neighborhood resulting in over (3,000) donated prizes
The michael alan group is a full-service experiential marketing agency & event production company. Check out our work and our team, and drop us a line to see more case studies and discover our full scope of capabilities.

Event Marketing Upgrades: Decor Edition

We’ve been planning and executing productions and events for over 15 years. This is the first installment in our series on Small Changes, Big Gains, where we explore 10 simple ways to elevate your event.

Lighting the Room

Event spaces that look great in sunlight often lose their charm when the stars come out. For all of its subtlety, quality lighting is essential for creating just the right aesthetic. But too often a lighter event can also mean a lighter wallet. That’s why we decided to lead off with three simple ways to turn up the ambient light:

1. With Fire: Humans have been using fire as a light source for… well, a while. But since Thomas Edison, firelight has become dramatically less common. And, as a consequence, it’s also become dramatically more charming. So consider candlelight to price down and class up your next event.

2. With Bulbs: Speaking of Thomas Edison, the light bulb may have been a technical marvel at the turn of the century, but today it’s a symbol of elegant simplicity. If Smoky The Bear gives you grief over candlelight, you can still bypass elaborate lighting rigs by suspending bulbs from the ceiling. The less embellished the better. And bistro-style string lights yield equal the charm for half the hassle.

3. With Video Projections: So far we’ve taken advantage of historic (and pre-historic!) solutions. But new technologies can often offer equal efficiency. Save big and light well by directing the glow of video projectors against reflective surfaces. This is particularly effective in tents.

Believe it or not, the entire space for the Pinnacle Cinnabon 24 Hour Brunch was filled with white walls. Video projections brought the party to life.

Adorning the Walls

When brands look to make an event space their own, they often begin by filling wallspace. But signage, art, and drapes can consume resources that are better spent wining, dining, and entertaining guests. So how do we dress the walls efficiently without compromising on style?

1. With Clings: Wall and mirror clings can give your space character without crowding your footprint or cramping your style. Simple, versatile, inexpensive, and attractive — what’s not to love?

2. With Balloons: Wait. Hear us out. Balloons are actually just as flexible in function as they are in form. We’ve seen them floated to the roof as elegant ceiling décor, repurposed as step-and-repeat paneling, and bunched together as colorful accent pieces. They look great, cost pennies, and leave guests marveling at your ability to make beauty from nothing.

3. With Lights: To enhance the drama of your décor, consider uplighting the walls with rich, candy-crush colors. Or, if your event palate is more subdued, consider gels on the white-to-gold spectrum. We also love uplighting walls because doing so can provide plenty of ambient light, assuaging two of our concerns at once.

Setting the Tables

And then, of course, there’s the task of impressing your guests when they get to the table. It’s always good to have strategies that are both affordable and chic.

1. With Menus: A visually-appealing branded menu with quality copy gives guests something tangible that they can handle and interact with. And if its look is in sync with the event’s other design elements, the menu can reinforce and enhance your chosen aesthetic.

2. With Mason Jars: You probably don’t need us to tell you that mason jars are coming back in a big way. Not only do they combine value and utility, but they also speak to your brand’s cultural awareness. Plus, they’re extraordinarily versatile. You can load them up with wildflowers for centerpieces or fill them with lemonade. Top that with a lemon wedge and a fancy straw and everyone will think you’re Martha Stewart.

3. With Linens: Even when the plates and their contents disappoint you, upgraded linens can seriously upgrade elegance. And if next-tier tablecloths don’t seem feasible, a simple improvement in the quality of napkins can achieve the same effect. As with the menu, napkins are one of the few items at the table that guests actually spend time handling.

The after party following the USOC 2016 Team USA Awards incorporated several items on this list, including candles, custom menus, and quality linens.

The Golden Rule

If you’ve been keeping count, you’ll notice that we’re 1 solution short of our promised 10. That’s because we’ve been saving the best for last. Here’s our golden rule for enhancing quality while avoiding sticker shock.

With a theme: When it comes to event planning, no single element can have as large an impact as theme. And we’re not even talking about the content of your theme here. Whether you pick thrifting as your theme to match the moment or go with black-and-white to match your guests’ apparel, what matters most is coherence. If every element — lights, walls, table, menu, entertainment, and beyond — speaks clearly to your theme, your event will look great. Plus, it will guarantee success when it comes to the real purpose of the event: communicating your message.

The michael alan group is a full-service experiential marketing agency & event production company. Check out our work and our team, and drop us a line to chat about upgrading decor at your next event.

Case Study Spotlight: White & Case 2016 Holiday Party

We produced the 2016 annual holiday party for international law firm, White & Case.

  • Served as venue liaison with The Rainbow Room in New York
  • Transformed the venue into a sexy, old New York themed party turning the three spaces into an underground jazz lounge, a classic casino and a big band dance hall
  • Featured entertainment by way of a live 10-piece band in the iconic Rainbow Room, a Jessica Rabbit inspired lounge singer with live classical pianist in Bar SixtyFive, and a casino area with Roulette, Poker, Craps, Blackjack and branded casino chips in the Gallery
  • Managed all onsite logistics including design and décor, AV needs, and staffing
The michael alan group is a full-service experiential marketing agency & event production company. Check out our work and our team, and drop us a line to see more case studies and discover our full scope of capabilities.

A Comprehensive Gift Guide for Event Producers and Designers

The holidays have arrived! We’re ecstatic about the music, the lights, and most certainly the food, but shopping for presents can sometimes be a bit of a stress. While we can’t exactly compile gift ideas for your friends and family, we’re quite the experts on what to gift event professionals! We’re positive you’ll find something perfect for any event prof in your life.

Desk Necessities

When they’re not scoping out a venue or onsite for the big event, event producers spend a fair amount of time at their desks. Why not help them spruce up their home away from home?

  • Coffee Warming Coaster
    Ever been so focused that, next thing you know, your fresh cup of coffee is suddenly lukewarm and less than delicious? Event people know. And they’ll be ecstatic to receive a gift that keeps their caffeine at the tastiest temperature.
  • Bubble Wrap Calendar
    It’s no secret, working in events can be stressful. What better way to relieve stress than by popping some bubble wrap? With this calendar, anyone can find a calm moment of *POP* … zen.
  • Pocket Notebooks
    Between meetings, brainstorms, and unexpected ideas, producers and designers alike have a lot to scribble down. These Ames and Oates pocket journals are especially fantastic because, through their partnership with Pencils of Promise, 10% of every gift order is donated to provide children access to quality education.
  • Desk Plant
    A little green can go a long way to brighten up someone’s desk space. From succulents to ferns to fresh herbs, there’s bound to be the right plant for any event expert.
  • Votive Candles
    Still looking for relaxing desk accessories? Votive candles are the perfect fit for slowing down the day and taking a deep breath.
  • Silly Putty
    If desk decor is all covered, how about a more retro stress reliever? Silly Putty can be a calming distraction and a fun throw-back to younger years.

Office Upgrades

Every individual has personal desk preferences, but here are a few office upgrades the entire crew would enjoy.

  • In-House Masseuse
    Maybe clearing out space for a permanent masseuse is a little too much to ask for, but Soothe, the massage delivery app, makes it easy to bring the spa to the team.
  • In-House Manicures
    Similar to the above, a permanent nail artist may be a bit much, but Glamsquad will bring these services directly to the office door.
  • Fully Stocked Mini Fridge
    Winning a project. Wrapping up a successful event. Employee birthdays. Just because. All are valid reasons to have a fully-stocked mini fridge ready for any office celebration.
  • Branded Office Slippers
    On dreary days when half the team trudges in with soaked shoes, an office-wide supply of slippers would be a blessing. Even better? Bump it up a notch with some branding.
  • Cold Brew Keg
    Fuel the team (and save everyone a few dollars) with the office’s own cold brew keg.
  • T-Shirt Gun
    Every event professional has witnessed a t-shirt gun in action. And every event team has (probably) wanted their own.
  • Confetti Cannons
    For the crew that already has a fully stocked mini fridge, confetti cannons might just be the next-best addition to those office celebrations.


Onsite Essentials

The big event can often come with big stresses. Here are some gift ideas that just might save the day.

  • Discreet Phone Charger
    Ever been surprised by a 10% battery warning at 10AM? This sneaky bracelet comes to the rescue with an iPhone charger hidden inside.
  • Smart Water Bottle
    Event days are LONG days. Help someone ensure they’re still staying hydrated with a water bottle that tracks it for them.
  • Coffee Gift Card
    ’nuff said.
  • Tackle Box
    Event day survival kits are almost always a must, and a tackle box serves as the perfect container.
  • Laser Measure
    Being able to easily grab measurements and ensure event elements have the space they need is critical, and this little laser measure is just the tool for the job.
  • Multifunctional Phone Case
    Screwdrivers, tweezers, scissors, and a toothpick are all tools that could definitely come in handy onsite. With this, they’re all conveniently packed into a phone case.

Tech the Halls

The ever-exciting (and often quite pricey) tech section of the gift guide. But even event production experts have a fair share of gadgets they’d love to get their hands on.

  • Wireless Headphones
    Equipped with these, any event producer’s Beyonce-themed work session can always play on, even if they step away from their desk.
  • Bluetooth Speaker
    The right music for an event is essential, as are the tools for playing the tunes. With bluetooth, speakers can live anywhere. Plus, for every speaker sold, LSTN helps provide hearing aids to a person in need through the Starkey Hearing Foundation.
  • Wacom Cintiq Pro
    For the creative team at the agency, this Wacom product will help them take their craft to the next level.
  • Oculus Rift
    As an experiential marketing agency, we live in many different realities. So, naturally, much of our team wouldn’t mind a headset of their own.
  • Smartpen Transcriber
    Imagine wildly scribbled notes being automatically delivered to a device as clean digital text. Need we say more?
  • Portable Projector
    Meetings can take a team to an unpredictable array of offices. With this, no one needs to worry if the right presentation tools will be available for the big pitch.
  • Video Drone
    Have you seen drone captured footage? It’s SO COOL and incredibly useful for documenting big events.

Treat Yo Event Prof’

Because they deserve it. 🙂

  • Plane Tickets for a Getaway
    Event people often love to explore, so send them somewhere new and exciting. Trust us, they’ll probably return with a venue or two to bookmark for international events.
  • Spa Day
    There’s no going wrong with this classic treat.
  • Adult Coloring Books
    They’re insanely popular right now, and many people rave about the therapeutic benefits of coloring. Perhaps these should be in “Desk Necessities”?
  • Concert or Theatre Tickets
    Event professionals often have an insider’s understanding of what it takes to put on a show, so they’ll love the chance to indulge in being an attendee.
  • Drink of Choice
    This will vary by personal preference, but members of our team would love to be treated to margaritas, red wine, or Johnnie Walker Blue.

Pie in the Sky

While we asked our team for input on this entire list, these final suggestions seemed just a bit aspirational.

  • A Live, Rideable Dragon
    Probably not going to happen…
  • Police Escort Through Traffic When Running Late
    A presidentially inspired idea, but perhaps a more obnoxious alarm would be a cheaper alternative.
  • Bag of Cash
    It may be wishful thinking, but a bag of cash would never be a bad gift.

Do you have more gift ideas for the event producers and designers you know? Comment below!

We wish everyone a happy and bright holiday season. 🙂