Experiential Marketing Summit 2016 Recap

By: Amanda Wells, CMP
Director of Business Development


The one show I look forward to every year is the Experiential Marketing Summit.

I was introduced to this show a few years ago and it absolutely blew my mind! The things that brands, and their partner agencies, come up with to build a connection with their consumers are incredible.

That’s what Experiential Marketing is; Building a connection between your brand/message/culture and your consumer/audience/etc.  It’s vital in this fast-paced, social media and technology driven world we are living in.

The Summit was held in Denver this year, and culture seemed to be the key take-away from the main speakers.  It all starts with the company culture.  One of my favorite quotes from the conference came from Dan Hilbert in his introduction of Pepsi’s keynote speaker. He said, “We have passion and compassion for consumer experiences and a way of working that is no longer competitive, but integrated. The new way of working is together.”

The event kicked off at the Breakfast Keynote with Adam Harter, VP of Consumer Experiences at Pepsi, speaking about how Human Experiences and Emotional Connections Win. Harter was transparent in his speech, admitting Pepsi was not connecting with it’s consumers, not innovative enough and had missed the mark completely.  He knew the company needed to change in order to be relevant.  “Culture eats strategy for breakfast. We live in a world of explosive change and connectivity. 95% of the world’s data was created in the past 3 years. This is both exciting and scary at the same time”.

Harter now feels Pepsi is innovative in a way that no brand in the soda industry has seen before, and he shared the five guiding pillars that Pepsi follows:

1. Culture is not a spectator sport.

2. Play with the Fringes.

3. Lead with Design.

4. Set Creativity on Fire.

5. Alter Reality.

On Friday, Peter McGuinness, Chief Marketing Officer at Chobani, busted the myth that all epic experiences must come from age-old beverage brands. The audience was captivated as he toured us through the history and philosophy of Chobani. The Chobani philosophy is best summed up with “No Risk, No Reward”. This, combined with compassion, a heart for their employees, other start up companies, and never wavering from their mission, allows them to grow, innovate, and lead the health food movement. Care for your employees and those around you, and you will succeed.

I also attended several other educational sessions focused on marketing events for non-tangible products, the latest event technology, how to “pump up” sales meetings, and video content creation tips. Each session was so interesting, and will allow me to better serve my clients.

The networking and event suppliers are top-notch as well and that keeps me coming back year after year.

The Summit returns to Chicago in 2017 and there’s no doubt that I will be there!