Case Study Spotlight: Rachael Ray Nutrish Yappie Hour

We raised awareness for the launch of Rachael Ray’s premium dog treats at South Beach Wine & Food’s annual Yappie Hour event, hosted by Rachael Ray.

  • Created a pop up activation at the Yappie Hour Event at The Standard Miami Beach
  • Provided onsite elements for owners & their pets to enjoy which included a multi-platform deck with dog food & pet bowls, a larger than life burger installation made completely of Rachael Ray’s treats, a puppy self-serve treat bar and a branded Plinko game to win prizes
  • Distributed gift bags to guests filled with branded premiums including dog bowls, doggy bag dispensers, bandanas, samples and more
  • Managed all logistics as they relate to venue, production, design, décor, run of show, 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.

Event Marketing Upgrades: Swag Edition

Welcome to installment number two in our series exploring event marketing upgrades, where we focus on small changes that make big gains. In this edition, we’re diving into the world of promotional products and highlighting the go-to swag consumers love.

Swag to Brave the Elements

When planning an outdoor activation, weather will always be a beast to predict. While there are a number of ways to outwit Mother Nature (e.g. fans, tenting, outdoor heaters; perhaps we should draft a blog about it), these preparations can also guide your giveaways. Which products are best for the battle?

1. Cold Weather: While we certainly don’t see many brands setting up shop on blustery streets, there are a brave few who make it happen. Branded hats, gloves, or scarves are a unique giveaway that can be useful and fashionable. Another crowd favorite? Hand warmers.

2. Hot Weather: There are hot summer days, and then there are HOT summer days. To relieve sweaty consumers, take a look into branded ice scarves. Simply soak in water, place around the neck, and enjoy as cooling magic ensues. Paper or battery-powered fans are also a surefire success.

3. Wet Weather: Temperatures can be predicted with relative ease, but a cloudy sky can turn stormy in a matter of minutes. Never fear! Any brand can be a hero by giving away ponchos. And, if the budget allows, branded umbrellas will save the day on more than one rainy occasion, making it a solid investment for those extra impressions.

Small Business Saturday lands on a chilly November day, but that didn’t stop American Express from activating. They promoted their “Shop Small” campaign by distributing branded hats, scarves, and mittens to appreciative attendees at the Today Show.

Swag to Save Tech

For as often as we encourage attendees to tweet, post, snap, and share, we ought to treat their phones to a little TLC. And that’s precisely what this swag sets out to do.

1. Charging Up: Dying batteries are a frequent foe. Ensure your guests have the juice they need (and in the nick of time, no less) with a branded portable charging pack. There’s a wide array of designs and capacities fit for an event of any kind.

2. Tricking Out: Phone accessories are always a popular promo, and their longevity can pay off far beyond the event. Plus, the product selection keeps growing. Adhesive wallets, selfie sticks, styluses, stands, sleeves, and, now, VR goggles, are just a few of the branded items attendees enjoy.

3. Cleaning Up: Eyes are surprisingly adept at ignoring just how filthy cellphone screens can become. That’s why branded screen cleaners are a win-win. Consumers will pause to assess their screen’s condition, and, presto, they’ll already have the perfect tool to swipe away the mess.

Swag to Pamper the People

Tom and Donna of Parks and Rec had it right: “Treat. Yo. Self.” While event marketers can take this mantra to the Nth degree in any aspect of an activation, we find it especially effective when considering what attendees will take home.

1. Hydrate/Caffeinate: Environmentally friendly and endlessly useful, branded drinkware is always a hit; water bottles, travel mugs, tumblers, you name it. Pro-tip: Partner up with a local coffeeshop or smoothie joint and offer a promotion for consumers to get their first fill for free.

2. Simple Essentials: You might be surprised by the number of very common products that make for very popular giveaways. Our top brandable picks? Sunglasses, breath mints, and lip balm.

3. Rest and Relaxation: Swag and zen rarely land in the same sentence, but, we assure you, one can certainly lead to the other. Relaxation will look different for every brand and every guest, but some popular products for treating attendees include branded yoga mats, sleeping masks, coloring books, or chocolates.

To promote the Season 3 premiere of MasterChef Junior, MAG partnered with Endemol Shine and took drinkware swag to the next level. Gourmet hot cocoa kits were delivered to previous contestants and influencers, including Mom Spotted.

Practically any product can be branded nowadays (trust us, we’ve tackled some wild work), but novelty isn’t always the way to win with consumers. Giveaways have the power to save the day, spark excitement, or simply deliver a moment of rest, and brands should consider the impact they’re aiming for. While these items have been proven valuable time and again, we always take a deep dive into an array of options to ensure we’re sending attendees away with swag they love (and swag they’ll love to use again).

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 the swag your consumers are sure to enjoy.

An Experiential Ode to Valentine’s Day

Some love to hate it and some hate to love it, but Valentine’s Day is nevertheless upon us again. While many couples are off to smooch over a fancy meal (as some singles are eyeing the next day’s discounted chocolate), we’re here to celebrate the center of it all: L-O-V-E, love.

We’re thrilled to celebrate all forms of love (just check out last year’s bridal shower bonanza), but we especially enjoy when experiential gets to show its sensitive side. Here are some of our favorite activations, a mix of MAG-produced and others, where romance was the star of the show.

WE tv Operation “I Do”

As the saying goes, “First comes love, then comes marriage.” And that second step is precisely what MAG helped produce for five military couples. To promote the launch of WE tv’s Wedding Sunday programming, the big day became a big event in Times Square, complete with a post-ceremony reception, a military “arch of swords”, live performances, wedding cake, and “Just Married” pedicabs whisking the newlyweds away.

Heineken #DateInABox

Valentine’s Day can be a very sneaky holiday, and reservations fill up fast. In 2014, Heineken came to the rescue with its social-media campaign, #DateInABox. Frantic boyfriends could tweet the hashtag at @Heineken_US to request a prearranged date for two. They then received a red, glittery vault, with the surprise date waiting on a certificate inside. The catch? To reveal the vault’s code, gentlemen had to post a picture on Instagram, declaring their love (and forgetfulness).

Alice & Olivia “Get Into Our Pants”

Love isn’t merely fun dates and big weddings. When MAG partnered with Alice & Olivia to promote the brand’s 10th anniversary, the messaging took a more provocative spin on romance with the slogan, “Get Into Our Pants.” To deliver this cheeky tagline, brand ambassadors took to swanky NYC lounges and discreetly “dropped” branded condoms for consumers to find.

Wilkinson Sword’s Smooth Valentine’s Day

You typically wouldn’t associate razors with Valentine’s Day, but Wilkinson Sword UK found the perfect connection by wishing women a smooth Valentine’s Day. The brand’s installation featured an oversize male face covered with unruly “stubble”. Upon closer inspection, however, consumers discovered each hair was instead a stem, with a red rose hidden within the wall. As couples swooned and walked away this floral surprise, they simultaneously gave the install exactly what it needed: a flawless shave.

Air France Instant Wedding

Often the beauty of love is fueled by surprise (we’ve all seen this adorable proposal video, right?). Well, what could be more surprising than an instant wedding? When MAG partnered with Air France for their Instant Takeoff event, staffers caught wind of an engaged couple on-site hoping to win the trip and elope in Paris. In full experiential marketing fashion, an impromptu wedding was produced on the spot, and Air France instead sent the newlyweds away on a romantic Parisian honeymoon.

In Case of Love at First Sight, Break Glass

Valentine’s Day tends to cater to couples, but in 2014 the Flower Council of Holland turned its attention to lovesick singles. In Paris, the group celebrated by installing 1,500 red boxes mimicking emergency boxes (those you might see holding a fire extinguisher) throughout the city. These boxes, however, carried a single red rose with the message “In case of love at first sight, break glass.” While we aren’t certain if these sparked any long-term love, they were a delightful surprise for many and hopefully won a few lucky people a first date.

Whether you’ll be snuggling with your sweetie or simply going about your day, the michael alan group wishes everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day.

And if you catch wind of any amazing candy sales, be sure to let us know.

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 igniting romance at your next activation.

Live Streaming 101: Sharing Events With Social Media

It sounds oxymoronic to describe live events as being accessible anywhere at anytime by anyone, but, with live streaming, they really are.

We’re not just talking about live streaming webinars or big-budget multi-camera events here. Live streaming of that sort has been around since the 90s. It’s social live streaming that’s going to change experiential marketing forever, and so it’s social live streaming that we’re here to blog about.

Products like Facebook Live, Youtube Live, and Periscope make it possible to grow event audiences exponentially via web promotion. By streaming video live, they empower us to maintain of-the-moment urgency, and, by incorporating feedback features, they enable us to interact with absent audiences as immediately as we interact with in-person attendees.

Given its power, social media live streaming has become the favorite marketing tool of major global corporations, entrepreneurial stay-at-home moms, and a whole host of brands in between.

So we’re here to share some of our institutional wisdom on going live.

Where to Live Stream

Where? is perhaps the most important question a brand can ask when going live. Since popularized this technology a decade ago, the live streaming vertical has grown into a dense ecosystem of competing brands that inspire lengthy pro-con lists.

As with live events, so too with live streams: we’re strong believers in meeting our targets where they work and where they play. That’s why we recommend taking advantage of technologies like Facebook Live, Google’s YouTube Live, and Twitter’s Periscope. While other live streaming platforms like Meerkat and Twitch have developed devoted followings and stellar technologies, there’s just no competing with the value of easy discovery and pre-existing audiences that exist on what we like to call The Big Three of social media live streaming.

Facebook Live
Last February, Dunkin’ Donuts became one of the first brands to go live on Facebook. Their valentines cake-and-donut-making event drew 21,000 views in 13 minutes. A month later, Facebook announced that people were watching live streams three times more than pre-recorded video.

Facebook’s brand appeal needs no explanation. But we’ll give one anyway.

Facebook is the world’s most popular social network. It is the third most visited website in the world (Google’s in first, followed by its subsidiary, YouTube). Americans stream videos there more than they do anywhere else. With nearly 2 billion users logging in worldwide, Facebook offers one hell of a captive audience. Plus, most brands have already begun to develop robust Facebook followings, which greases the wheels for pre-broadcast promotion.

Users who have a history of engaging with your page will get notifications when you go live. And if you schedule up to one week in advance, consumers will have the opportunity to sign up for reminder notifications about the broadcast. Of course, you can also send in-platform invites just as you would for any other event.

Once you go live, viewers will be able to comment and post emoticon reactions in real time. If you’ve shared your location, strangers are all the more likely to stumble across your broadcast, and viewers may even decide to attend the live event if they’re in the neighborhood.

You can film for up to an hour and a half; Facebook recommends that you use at least 10 minutes of that time. Once it’s all over, the video saves to your page and Facebook’s analytics will give you information and infographics that measure things like views, comments, and moments of peak engagement.

Facebook’s API service allows industry professionals to elevate their broadcast, incorporating advanced technologies, special effects, on-screen graphics, and more.

YouTube Live
YouTube Live has played host to presidential debates, sporting events, and at least one royal wedding. If you’re going to post a video, it makes sense to do it on the world’s most popular video streaming site. Plus, as a subsidiary of Google, YouTube live streams get great SEO, which is more than can be said for Facebook.

Perhaps its search engine performance is meant to make up for what it lacks in promotional power. Unless your brand’s channel has developed a large subscription base, it’s difficult to compete with the native promotional powers of Facebook and Twitter. Still, YouTube’s shareable and embeddable links make it possible to harness the power of those social networks.

Those links also make it possible to use your live stream as a lead generator. By making your video undiscoverable, you can restrict access to consumers who provide their emails or complete other calls to action in advance of the broadcast. Or you can keep your video public to maximize reach.

Other YouTube advantages include its unique 360-video live stream capability and the practical life spans of videos post-broadcast. While other platforms keep recordings of live streams accessible after events have finished, those videos can be hard to find. Facebook and Twitter value the immediacy of content while YouTube puts quality first. YouTube’s first-rate content will be particularly easy to find after-the-fact and YouTube’s superior search functionality will guarantee your video practical immortality.

Periscope launched in 2014. A year later, Twitter acquired it for the low, low cost of $90 million. Today it boasts over 10 million users who watch 40 years worth of content every day.

While neither Periscope’s nor Twitter’s membership bases rival Facebook’s, it would be a mistake to count them out. Facebook has proven to be the world’s favorite forum for private networking, but Twitter is the internet’s agora for breaking news. In fact, sometimes the happenings on twitter are the breaking news. From revolutions to scandals to high profile debates — ideological and personal — Twitter has proven itself the ultimate forum for learning what’s happening now. Which makes it an obvious choice for live streaming.

Periscope and Twitter are well integrated so live streamers can choose to go public on either or both platforms. Content-creators can use Periscope’s sketch feature to enhance videos or fill dead time. Meanwhile viewers can comment and send likes.

Following the stream, Periscope provides advanced analytics that offer general viewing information as well as specifics about who was watching and for how long. As with the other platforms, videos will live on after the initial broadcast.

How to Live Stream

Once you’ve picked your platform, it’s important to make sure that you’re live streaming compelling content. As with any event, there’s really just one key question: what’s the value add? Every live stream should give consumers a unique experience of some kind — special access to a special event, something beautiful, something weird, enriching, or entertaining. You can enhance event live streams by bringing the digital audience behind the scenes or featuring exclusive interviews and Q&As. The key here is to tell a compelling story.

You can get literal about value add by offering give-aways. These can be physical objects mailed to lucky winners or digital content downloaded via exclusive links. The latter strategy can be used to generate leads: you can ask consumers to register at a landing page before downloading the content.

Hiring a celebrity to host the live stream can draw a larger audience and enhance the experience. Especially if your celebrity host is going to respond to comments in real time — that’s one of the best ways to make the digital audience feel as though they’re physically present. Usually, we have staff monitor comments and select questions for the host to answer. Depending on the platform you’ve chosen, commenters can hashtag their questions for easy discovery and hosts would do well to address commenters by name.

When events have dead time, do what ESPN does: cut to your talking heads — a branded news desk staffed by talent. They can conduct interviews, discuss the event, answer comments, and facilitate giveaways. You can also script these interactions, which makes for a nice breath of fresh air in the midst of an unpredictable event.

Some platforms offer additional time-filling capabilities. Periscope allows you to sketch on screen during live performances — a great tool for occupying dead space and also for augmenting keynotes and product demonstrations. With Facebook Live API, you can also instant replay, overlay on-screen graphics, and incorporate special effects. You can even cut to content being filmed by a drone.

Once you wrap, make sure to thank your audience, incorporate a call to action, and let them know about your next event. And don’t forget: all three of these platforms allow your video to live on after the broadcast. So make sure to post-promote your video. Then get to work planning your next one.

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 bringing your event to life, both in-person and online.