The Cohesive Creative

 

Our favourite kind of creative concepts are those that run deep within a project. Think less “theme,” and more “creative platform.” Beyond a single word, tagline, or logo, the creative platform has nuance and richness. It extends naturally into elements that can go in multiple, diverse directions. And it is always clear and accessible to the audience. The creative platform doesn’t need to be explained at every turn; it simply is the fullness of the experience.

We had the chance recently to build and realize just such a project, and we’d like to share some of its highlights with you. A quick note, though: don’t read this if you’re hungry.

Objective: Two Diverse Groups, One Meeting

Our project objective was to create an experience that would bring two distinct groups together in a way that felt natural and that supported business objectives. Because the location was a unique hotel that offered fantastic local foods, it became part of the creative force.

We wanted to treat this meeting as a true experience of coming together, one that took advantage of a very special time and setting.

So we centred it around that most communal of places: the dinner table. It’s where we share food, stories, experiences. The dinner table evokes welcome, generosity, and openness. Food has become central to our conversations, as we have gained a greater appreciation for where it comes from, how it is prepared, and how it is shared. What better platform to bring this to life?

At the table

From that point on, our team worked to unfold this concept and this energy through multiple elements, creating dynamic touchpoints that kept the concept alive and top-of-mind throughout the event.

And you know that your creative is truly a nuanced and rich platform when the project becomes deeply collaborative. The different client teams incorporated the theme into their sessions whenever possible, as well as adding in their own touches. The client collaboration on this project was huge because they all owned it.

Pre-Open: Whet Your Appetite

It began with a dinner invitation, of course, inviting attendees to join their teams “at the table.” Event Registration allowed us to ask questions like:

What’s your favourite ingredient?
What’s your favourite local restaurant?
Sweet or spicy?
Beer or wine?

which led to “Ask Me About” badges featuring some of these details.

Picture1

This pre-opening activity allowed attendees to swap recipes and chat about their favourite food haunts, while giving us the information about their preferences. On offer was local beer and wine, as well as an assortment of sweet and salty snacks for attendees to enjoy as they mingled.

The Opening Plenary: The First Taste

Because the “At the Table” platform encompassed the potential for connections, each aspect of the Opening Plenary was created to correspond.

Open staging

What better way to bring those “ingredients” together than in the presentation itself? We staged a dinner party for the opening presentation, complete with table settings and beverages.

Bringing the theme to life onstage set the atmosphere for our first two speakers to act as “hosts,” and it generated a genuine feeling of welcome for the audience.
We worked with presenters to align their content organically within the creative platform, such that a slide like

Mise en place

functions as the Intro slide, allowing the speaker to talk through how she prepares for bringing people together in her home. The resonance for this meeting—the preparation involved in bringing two dynamic, diverse groups together—was tangible.

Between each presentation in the Opening, hotel staff passed “Perfect Pairings” to the audience: specially-chosen hors d’oeuvres that created a real moment of sharing food together. These pairings also emphasized how two single ingredients, perhaps fantastic on their own, can become something truly outstanding when brought together.

Perfect pairings

Attendees were delighted by these small moments between presentations. They were designed to emphasize that every person in the audience truly was “at the table” and part of the connecting and sharing that the meeting aimed to evoke.

The Week: Main Courses

Welcome Dinner: Instead of the traditional dinner following the Plenary, attendees experienced a family-style dinner at a very, very long table. You’ve likely felt the difference between being seated at rounds of 10-12 people, and being at a family table (which can run from 4-40). Imagine what it would feel like to be at a table of 150?

Long table

The casual, connective environment didn’t mean that people were fixed in their seats, though. As happens at the best dinner parties, there was movement and flow, as people connected with familiar faces and made new acquaintances.

Agenda: The agenda unfolded within the creative platform, with “Iron Rep” and “Test Kitchen” breakouts functioning as competitive review and roleplaying workshops. Time off and opportunities to enjoy local foods were part of the schedule as well.

Marketing Session: A Marketing session became a literal Marketplace, with small tins of herbs to be handed out alongside marketing tools. The five individual herbs, once collected, became a spice mixture that fused the different flavours together.

Marketplace

The Close: To bring our event full-circle, the Close was staged as the “after-dinner coffee.” Gone were table and settings; here were comfy couches, espresso, and two new hosts reflecting on the success of the week and opening up discussion about next steps.

What you bring

Aligned with the “At the Table” concept, this part of the Close invited attendees to capture their three key take-aways (ingredients) and the steps (directions) they will take to implement them.

Recipe card

 The Celebration: After an intense week of meetings and connections, our clients were ready for an evening to celebrate! Drawing on the rustic nature of the venue and adding a bit of urban flair, we created something of a “Farm Nightclub.” On offer: fantastic local foods and drink, a DJ spinning dance tunes in English and French, friends old and new!

 Celebration

What We Made and Couldn’t Use: Leftovers

As with any creative platform, there are some solid ideas that don’t make it through to execution. Ours included

  • a team Recipe Book (with fun facts and attendee-submitted recipes)
  • a “Table for Two” networking event that would allow attendees to spend one-to-one time with someone they don’t know well,
    and
  • an “Appetizer v. Dessert” team-building event that would have divided the groups (not into their usual composition, but by Registration details) into appetizer-makers and dessert-makers. After prepping both, the kitchen would take over and these team-made delicacies would have been served with the next meal.

Each event and each audience is different, so it isn’t always possible to deliver the full, cohesive creative platform. When we do, though, the impact is tangible: for the audience, for the client, and for us.

Leave a Reply