A Popular Brand ofMeetings Designing face-to-face events that stick out in people’s minds. A
s we were going to press with this issue, a tongue-in- cheek documentary called
“POMWonderful Presents: The Greatest
Movie Ever Sold” was about to open in theaters. In the movie’s trailer (available at http://bit.ly/epgZZe), director Morgan Spurlock explains that he wanted “to make a film all about product placement, marketing, and advertising, where the entire film is funded by product placement, marketing, and advertising.” At the end ofthe trailer, Spurlock asks Ralph
Nader, “Where should I be able to go where I don’t see one bit ofadvertising?” The consumer advocate replies,“To sleep.” Indeed. Branding messages are ubiquitous. Some are cleverly placed—I’m a fan of those
This logo for the Inter- national AIDS Society (IAS) 2011 conference (www .ias2011.org), coming up in July in Rome, elegantly melds content and place. I asked Lindsey Rodger,
IAS’s communications assistant, how IAS came up with the design. The concept, she said, came from Rome-based creative agency Design Factory, which provided this insight: “The logo was createdto represent the
architectural element of the arch, an impor- tant symbol of urban andImperial Rome. The arch directly and immediately evokes the idea of transit, of entrance, of reception, of wel- come. Rome [has a] history of welcoming dif- ferent cultures andpopulations, andthis concept is significant when appliedto HIV, an epidemic with a strong social impact on a global level. The double row of arches evoke the Colosseum, while the ribbon recalls, unquestionably, the theme of the conference.”
10 pcma convene May 2011
Zappos ads at the bottom ofairport security bins. There’s even a new mobile-ad startup company —Adzookie—that can paint your home (www.adzookie.com/paintmyhouse.php), turning it into a giant billboard. In return, Adzookie will pay your monthly mortgage. Whetherwefind their placement novel or not,
brand names, logos, taglines, and images bom- bard us at every turn.Andmostly,wetry to tune them out. What does this have to do with meet- ings? Plenty, ifwe start by agreeing that a meeting isn’t the only game in town. As marketing expert Seth Godin says in “Brand SpankingNew,” this issue’sCMPSeries article (p. 57): “The Internet has threatened anything that conferences used to do.” Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP)Vice President ofMeetingsLynn Smith, CMP, said much the same thing about her audi- ence in this month’s Innovative Meetings column (p. 39): They don’t need to come to AFP’s annual conference for content. “People can get informa- tion sitting behind their desks,” she told me. Face-to-face meetings need to stand out, to
provide a different experience than all the other ways people can access information. It sounds contradictory—considering that our everyday lives are littered with marketing messages—but the way to cut through that clutter is to brand your meeting, and to do it in an exceptional way. Andthat, according to the marketing experts interviewed for ourCMPSeries article, involves much more than a smart-looking logo or an effec- tive theme.Ameeting’s brand is the totality of each attendee’s experience—from the minute they receive the first save-the-date email until the day the meeting wraps up. Done well, your brand registers with attendees not just as a stand-alone event, but as a community to which they’ll want to return.
MODEL BEHAVIOR: One of our goals at Convene is to take a good look at a few longstanding industry models and ask if they’re serving every- one’s interests, or cracking under pres- sure and in need of recasting. In our February issue, we turned our attention to how second-tier cities are defined and perceived (http:// bit.ly/fwfIAg); this month, we take on room blocks and meeting space (p. 42). We’ve received plen- ty of feedback about our second-tier-cities article; let us know what you think about this month’s cover story.