Hello, I’m Jez and I’m the strategic partner at Live Union. Put simply we
create live events - of all shapes and sizes - for brands.
This isn’t a creds presentation (you’ll be relieved to hear), rather it will give
you an insight into why we believe live experiences are an increasingly
powerful way to engage people and how best to place them at the heart of a
In putting this presentation together, I’ve tried to use interesting live events,
some to do with brands and some not. Just to be clear, the examples used
aren’t our own - we’ve only just launched!
The magnetism of
Simon Jenkins talks about ‘the magnetism of human congregation’, a basic
human need to come together as a group. For reasons that I’ll come onto in
a bit, this seems to be expressing itself more keenly now than ever before.
Society is experiencing a boom in live events. Whether its West-End
theatre ticket sales, which are breaking all records despite, or perhaps
because of, the recession the growth in public art spectacles or the 10 fold
increase in music festivals in the last 10 years, people are craving the
specialness of live ‘you-had-to-be-there’ events.
The crowds at Obama’s hustings and inauguration was an example of this
In the art world, installations like Martin Creed’s runners at Tate Britain and
Anthony Gormley’s upcoming 4th plinth, featuring members of the public,
show a desire for face-to-face experiences.
Lectures – surely the most archaic form of public entertainment - now cram
the London what’s-on schedules. Organisations such as the School of life
and RSA are recording huge demand for tickets. Readings by authors, not
to mention, literary festivals are hugely popular. This photo is from the
brilliant Moth Storytelling slam in New York.
If these examples feel a bit niche, then consider the trend for TV shows,
such as Britain’s Got Talent, to be reconfigured for live audiences across
Why the explosion in live?
The answer as to why society is demonstrating this craving for face-to-face
experiences is doubtless complex, but what is clear is that many of the
drivers lie in the digital world.
Firstly, the digitizing of all other media has distinguished live events as
things that can’t be downloaded, copied and shared as such their value has
Secondly, the organising power of the internet has created new events for
groups that have formed on the internet and want to move those
relationships into the real world.
Twestival - which saw events organised via Twitter in 200 cities around the
world simultaneously, without a professional event organiser anywhere in
sight is an example of this.
Relevance to brands
A strong consumer desire for live experiences, coupled with new channels
for exploiting the content, means that live has become an incredibly
powerful medium for brands. Where once brands had to choose between
live and other media, this is no longer the case and a wider group of brands
are harnessing the power of Live within their campaign planning.
Live events were once considered to be a campaign add-on, a fun extra -
they are now playing a central role. Past concern that the value was only to
be found in the number of people engaging face-to-face with at the event
has been replaced by a recognition that live has an exciting role to play at
the activating heart of a campaign.
For brands ‘you-had-to-be-there’ live experiences are valuable content and
more and more of them are recognising the power of ‘real’ as something
around which to build a marketing platform.
People talk about the importance of building a big fire at the heart of your
marketing and then using all the tools at your disposal to fan the flames.
Live spectacles offer exactly that opportunity and the tools, be they digital
social media ones or more traditional, are particularly adroit at fanning the
flames of live.
Nike’s Human Race activity is a great example of how a brand can use the
content from a live experience to reach a wider audience, from advertising
to the chance for competitors to challenge a friend or post-race to buy a
personalised copy of the race day book. It also shows how a big live idea
can be implemented globally, not to mention the power of live to engage
people with a brand passion.
Events are being used in a multitude of new ways, AMV’s recent Doritoes
Dodgeball campaign reframed the role of live in a virtual world, enabling
people to fire dodgeballs from their computers at a real dodgeball team at a
location in East London.
Fallon’s work for the BBC Blast studios on the Southbank does something
Method use live experiences to dramatize their product story. Pop-up stores
appear in US cities running a ‘toxic turn in’ programme, where people can
exchange their chemical based cleaning products for non-toxic Method
If in the past live experiences have been pioneered by a relatively small
number of brands, today businesses of all types are recognizing what live
can do for them, and for brands that need to move the needle a long way,
one-on-one engagement, through live events is particularly compelling.
And, of course, as events are exploited through a greater range of channels
the opportunities for evaluating their effectiveness also increases.
Having only recently opened for business, (but with bags of past
experience) we’re looking to collaborate with agencies that give us the
chance to work with exciting brands. The best live experiences are born of
collaboration and we’re very used to developing live concepts in this way
and giving brands the confidence to execute experiential campaigns.
As well as thinking about what live can do for brands and about how other
channels can best be used to fan the flames, we also have the production
resource to deliver.
As I said at the start, this wasn’t meant to be a creds, but if you’d like to
hear more about Live Union, our experience, how we think about events
and what we can deliver, please do get in touch.
020 7254 8627