3 creative themes for your next event

The first in a four-part series, here are tips for creating themed events from Mercedez-Benz, Marriott and more

In this first of four part series, we spotlight unique themes to dress up your event experience. This week, we highlight takeaways from Mercedez-Benz's enigmatic launch event, the fun quotient in Philippines and an experiential culinary event in Hong Kong. Subsequent parts in the series can be found here, here and here.

Mercedez-Benz conjures up smoke, lights and action
Planner: Cyndee Lim, events director, Mercury Live
Contact: cyndee@mercurylive.sg  
Venue: Singapore Wine Vault

Events company, Mercury Live, won the Markies award for their out-of-the-box creative launch for Mercedes-Benz, which took place last September. (Mercury Live)

What was the aim of the event?
Mercedes-Benz, our long-time partner, wanted to unveil the new Mercedes-Benz CLS in a way that spoke to the campaign tagline of "a sensual affair". We had the challenge of executing the launch in a way that had never been done before in other car launches.

To convey mystery and intrigue, we dressed the event in red, black, smoke and lights. We drew inspiration from various art and light installations, which have been used for other brand launches but never for car launches. This event won us a Markies award this year for 'Most Creative Launch/Re-launch'.

How did you execute it?
We found Singapore Wine Vault, which has an industrial space with high ceilings. That's how we convinced the client to pick this venue, even if this meant they had to send their guests all the way to Boon Lay in the far west. It was a four- hour event for 300 guests.

We built a towering 10x10x5m metal structure around the car, which was draped with a mesh material to conceal it from guests before the launch. Guests entered the venue in pitch darkness, where only the projection of the Mercedes-Benz logo was visible.

We came up with graphic content to be projected onto the mesh material. With the lights, we played with lines to create a stark cage-like visual effect, which was synchronised according to music.

What were the challenges and how did you overcome them?
Certain equipment like lasers that we initially intended to use couldn't be acquired locally in Singapore. So we had to think of alternatives to achieve the same lighting effect and precision of criss-crossing lines. We eventually found a solution to use a lighting bar that was close enough to what a laser does. Finding the right kind of mesh material was also tough because it had to hide the car, be able to show projected content and still be thin and lightweight.

Philippines puts the fun in CSR
Planner: Michel Huguenin, co-founder, Planitswiss Asia
CONTACT: michel.huguenin@planitswiss.com
VENUE: Makati Shangri-La, Manila

An authentically fun way of livening up a Philippines event? Bringing in the local transport, Jeepneys, into a ballroom. (Planitswiss Asia)

What was the aim of the event?
Micro Focus International is a multinational software and information technology business, and we helped to organise a three-day regional partners meeting in Manila for about 300 guests, including a gala dinner and series of corporate social responsibility activities. The entire event's theme was based around the Philippines.

How did you execute it?
So what's more 'Philippines' than the local Jeepneys, right? A Jeepney is basically a jeep that's been modified into a bus, and it's the most popular form of public transport in the Philippines. The experience began at the airport, where we picked up all our guests in Jeepneys. For the conference opening, we even had the senior management literally drive into the event venue on a Jeepney. For the CSR activity, guests painted a Jeepney based on company colours, and we donated it to a local orphanage. It was a very emotional and meaningful gift that none of the participants will ever forget.

What were the challenges and how did you overcome them?
Jeepneys don't have air-conditioning, so we were worried about guests. But the venue is just 20 minutes away from the airport, and they were happy to experience it along the way, so no complaints. Other challenges were budget, and time, because we couldn't book the venue three days in advance for set up. So we had to coordinate a lot of manpower, use equipment they already had and make the event work.

Marriott's creative F&B approach
Planner: Chris Macdonald, VP, director of operations, Jack Morton Worldwide
Contact: chris_macdonald@jackmorton.com.hk
Venue: Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen's Park

Marriott International used their strengths - strong culinary experience and family-friendly work culture - to connect with their staff. (Jack Morton Worldwide)

What was the aim of the event?
We put together a series of internal staff conferences for Marriott International APAC as part of their Marriott-Starwood integration programme. The conferences ran across three weeks for 1,600 staff.

The culinary experience is a key strength for Marriott as a hotel group, so our aim was to elevate the conference through the F&B experience - especially since as hoteliers, they're very used to hosting events. We experimented with how we presented each break, especially for conferences that stretched over three days.

How did you execute it?
We had creative themes such as a Thai flash mob in a carpark, a multi-coloured fashion runway and a homecooked lunch break, where Marriott staff were served by their own family members preparing their best family recipes.

We wanted to give delegates the local Thai street-food experience, even if it meant bringing guests a little out of their comfort zone to a non-aircon carpark. They were greeted by local vendors serving dishes from their mobile carts, dancers and musicians, and graffiti- covered walls.

We also created a "white zone" for the wellness trend. Fitted with greenery and wood, it was sectioned into different areas for massage, yoga and taichi, complemented with organic foods and cold-pressed juices.

We also used fashion to dress up a coffee break. It featured a catwalk showcasing latest works from local Thai design students.

What were the challenges and how did you overcome them?
One of the challenges during the event was the turnaround of the rooms each day, and from one break to the next. I don't think we ever used the same venue for two consecutive breaks. We had an extended team to look after these dedicated areas.

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