Hot Town, Summer in the City

As a brand looking to spread awareness, the heat of a city summer can sometimes be a deterrence. But not to worry, we’ve got you covered like SPF 50.

Location, Location, Location … and Popcorn

Finding the right venue for an event here in New York City can be harder than finding a job, an apartment, or even a date. Ok, maybe that’s exaggerating a bit, but it’s still not always an easy task. Part of being a full-service production agency is being able to help clients navigate this process (of finding a venue, not a date).  Offering up the venue is one thing – following through on things like in-house AV requirements, venue capacity, nearby hotels, and of course, availability, can quickly add pages to that venue deck.

In the case of CNN’s “The Movies”, we were fortunate that our client recently relocated their offices to Hudson Yards, so deciding where to execute the event was a little easier this go around. 

As you may be aware, Hudson Yards is the largest private real estate development in the United States by area. It’s New York’s newest neighborhood and home to more than 100 shops and restaurants, offices for major brands and organizations, significant public art and cultural institutions including The Shed and The Vessel, as well as 14 acres of public plazas and gardens.  And if you haven’t tried the milkshakes at Kith, I suggest doing so immediately (after you finish reading this blog post, of course).

One of the many reasons we were excited to work with CNN again is that this would be the first experiential activation of this kind at the venue. Being first to market on anything carries its own weight, especially in the event world. As if there wasn’t enough pressure to execute flawlessly before, this factor certainly weighed heavily on us, in the most exciting way possible.

Happy to say the event was a huge success. We had thousands of visitors, live shots from CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, and even guest appearances from Austin Powers and Cher from Clueless.

Below are a couple shots from the event. There’s even one with yours truly and Akeem, from Coming to America.

MAG CEO Jonathan Margolis poses with CNN The Movies stars.

See? Told you so.

As everyone’s aware, venues themselves can vary as much as the weather forecast on event day.  There’s really no way I could cover it all here, but what follows are just a few things that come to mind when deciding where to activate:

  1. Indoor vs. Outdoor
    This particular event required a decent amount of space, as we had the structure itself as well as signage around its perimeter. We opted to tent the top using a clearspan so we could protect against rain and give it a popup feel but not lose the natural light. Outdoor events are always more fun and visible, especially if we’re open to the public.

    CNN The Movies Pop Up Video Store Experience brought foot traffic to Hudson Yards in NYC

    CNN The Movies Pop Up Video Store Experience at Hudson Yards in NYC

  2. Foot Traffic
    How busy is the venue without any special events going on? Is the activation visible to passersby who may not wish to enter or engage in the experience but still wish to see what’s happening?  As we know, not everyone has the time (or desire) to engage in the activation, but we still want to make a quick impression, even if it’s just to share tune-in info.

    Inside CNN’s “The Movies” throwback video store


  3. Utilities
    It takes a lot to power an event, literally. Are things like electric and Wi-Fi readily available or will they need to be brought in? It’s obviously easier when things like this are available and easily accessible. Fortunately, Hudson Yards has Wi-Fi throughout the venue, as well as power and parking nearby.

  4. Star Power
    With venues, as with many things, sometimes what’s new can quickly get old. Have so many events been executed here before that consumers (and press) already lost interest after reading the release? In the end you want a venue that offers just as much excitement as the event itself.

After years of being onsite at activations across the country, it seems people often show up at an event not always realizing just how much goes into planning it.  I suppose the same holds true for a Broadway show or new restaurant opening in your neighborhood. Perhaps a future blog will focus on some of the more behind-the-scenes work that’s not always visible to the naked eye.

For now, I’ll say congratulations to the team here behind the CNN event – Rachel Jenkins, Linda Rhodes, and of course Lenetta Pesotini, as well as everyone else from MAG who pitched in to help. And to our good friends CNN, thank you for entrusting us with helping to raise awareness of “The Movies.” We’re already looking forward to the next one.

MAG on the Move

Moving sucks. 

Least that’s what you tell yourself as you begin to relocate your offices after 6 years.  The amount of “stuff” you accumulate as an event production company is pretty incredible, think storage wars on steroids. In the walk back to my desk as I was packing up I passed a stormtrooper, a box of stuffed animals, an assortment of wicker baskets, and signage from a network that I’m pretty sure doesn’t exist anymore. 

Then there’s the personal belongings. The ceramic plaque your kids made you on Father’s Day, or the picture from that family vacation you took almost 10 years ago (also reminds you to change the pictures of your kids more often). There’s NDA’s for clients that never materialized, and contracts with clients that changed the shape of your career.  There’s thank you notes from interns recognizing and appreciating the attention you showed them during their brief time in your office, and notes from colleagues that have moved on and took a moment to thank you for helping them get there. 

Welcome to the new home of MAG.

The more I think about it, moving doesn’t really suck, it’s perhaps the best opportunity to figuratively start something new. Each year (or if you’re like me, each week), you think about what you want to accomplish, both personally and professionally. Moving gives you the opportunity to throw away what’s not important, so you can make room for what is.  It’s a new place to get your coffee, a new view from the conference room, and for some of the team here, a new place to walk your dog when you (and your pet) could use some fresh air. 

Perhaps most importantly, moving can be a true sign of growth. Not every company makes it, and as a business owner perhaps I remind myself of that way more than I should. So personally, I’m beyond excited to be part of a company that’s growing both in terms of size and stature. Moving to a new space, with new furniture, and yes, even a new phone greeting (sorry Kevin), only further demonstrates the company’s strength and opportunity.  

Those views, though.

We’re fortunate here at MAG that since the acquisition, we’ve seen many upgrades. A new IT system, cleaner policies and procedures around HR and Finance, and now a completely remodeled space that we can call home for at least the next 10 years.  We now have offices across the country, and soon internationally as well. Our client list has grown, along with our capabilities both here at MAG as well as across the entire group of companies under the BDSmktg umbrella. 

As I took the last picture off the wall I thought back when we started all of this almost 20 years ago. I could not have done it without the support of so many amazing clients, colleagues and partners. It was certainly a dream to one day sell to a larger organization that could help us grow in ways we couldn’t do on our own.  I’d like to think of our new office as a new beginning for MAG, where we will welcome new team members, new clients, new capabilities, and new excitement for all of us.