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How to approach creativity for corporate events

How to approach creativity for corporate events

Creativity is one of the most important differential factors in a cluttered market where brands compete to climb positions into the consumer’s top of mind. And when it comes to events, it gains special relevance because of its more aspirational and ephemeral nature. So, to better understand how to approach creativity for corporate events, let’s have a chat with Eugenio Gonzalez (Uge), our Art Director and one of the veterans of the company.

Hello, Uge. To start with, tell us a bit about your professional career? Did you start in events, or have you worked in agencies of other types? Is conventional advertising very different from what you see in an event agency?

It all began 23 years ago in an advertising agency. My first work was designing supermarket brochures. Over time, I switched to more interesting projects learning from my colleagues. Let’s say, I started from the very bottom, and have always seen it as something positive. This is how I improved my skills in graphic software, teamwork and time management with tight deadlines. But above all, I assimilated that if I wanted to stay in this industry, I had to get used to irregular working schedules. And so I did!

I changed to event industry much later, shortly before the 4foreverything was created, about 10 years ago. Is there a difference between an event and advertising agency? Well, I believe that in a conventional advertising agency, you don’t have to deal with as many factors as when it comes to an event. As a graphic designer, I can tell that there are evident similarities, but events require reaching agreement with a wider scope of people to make everything fit together. You need to have specific knowledge of materials that are going to be used, about structure measures, and work on very tight schedules, among other things. Any mistake can provoke a chain reaction and many people will be affected. That requires a lot of responsibility and attention.

Eugenio Gonzalez, Art Director at 4foreverything
Eugenio Gonzalez, Art Director at 4foreverything

There are so many types of corporate events. From pop-up spaces to roadshows, from company dinners to several-day conventions. It means that the range of suitable ideas can also be very extensive. However, what we don’t normally see in the creative department is any clear briefing. Where do you start?

Let’s be honest, almost no briefing is clear. This is where Project Managers (Account Executives in advertising agencies) come into scene, as they have the ability to help the client specify and streamline their needs. Additionally, the Strategic Planner plays a crucial role in bringing the briefing down to earth. Then comes the Copywriter, who comes up with concepts and ideas that, in my opinion, are essential for the creative process to be aligned as closely as possible with the client’s needs.

Creativity is what makes an event to stand out. It’s what makes it truly memorable for attendees. However, the sources for this type of creativity are not the same as for conventional advertising, are they? Where do you search for inspiration?

As I mentioned before, I strongly rely on copywriter’s ideas and concepts when starting from scratch. I usually go home with this idea in my mind. And most of the times, the inspiration strikes suddenly. Sometimes while driving, other times while walking, but most often while I’m trying to fall asleep. I know it sounds strange, but that’s how it works.

Regarding the differences in creativity between advertising and events, I believe that advertising creativity is long-lasting, to the extent that we still use catch phrases that originated from advertising and have even transcended generations. Take the phrases like “Aceptamos pulpo” (literally, “We accept octopus,” meaning accepting something unexpected) or “Porque yo lo valgo” (meaning “Because I’m worth it”), etc. Advertising goes far beyond and has a very broad, if not infinite, reach.

However, an event is ephemeral. That’s why if we ask ourselves how to approach creativity for corporate events, it must be surprising. Its greatness lies in ensuring that people who attend that event (which only lasts a few hours or at most a few days) remember it for a long time. In my opinion, this is what matters most.

IE GAW 2023 stage
IE GAW 2023 stage

In case of events, it’s not enough for an idea to only work graphically. It needs to be much more versatile, involving set design, entertainment activities, and the presence of individuals (speakers, influencers, etc.) who contribute to and build upon the message that needs to be conveyed. Or is it not necessary? Maybe, just a mishmash of fun things would be enough?

No, a mishmash doesn’t make any sense. The attendees would immediately perceive that. When there is no harmony among the elements that make up an event, it’s very noticeable. Graphic design, structural elements, activations, and all other ingredients must align and be consistent with the concept. They should work together to create a cohesive atmosphere that reflects the brand to the attendees.

Can the use of technology per se be a creative idea? Or is it just a tool for creativity?

In my opinion, yes. Technology itself can be the creative idea. On the other hand, it is evident that we increasingly rely on technology when organizing events. So, it can be both an idea and a tool.

It is very difficult to assess creativity, because it’s highly subjective. And often we receive opinions that, perhaps unintentionally, are incompatible with the idea we are proposing. What is the strategy: yielding because teamwork implies keeping everyone satisfied, or exercising soft power to preserve the idea you believe in to the fullest?

We all want to be creative. And it’s natural for us to have opinions about everything. Personally, I believe all opinions deserve to be taking into account to a certain extent. And then sometimes you yield when it makes sense, and sometimes defend your work with facts and firmness when you believe it’s worth it and is consistent with the client’s goals. In fact, what you are doing is simply taking a stance on what you consider “creatively appropriate”. And in this “battle” you sometimes win, and sometimes lose 🙂

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