Monday, 13 July 2009

There ain't no party like a Smirnoff party

You know it’s a going to be great party when you have to visit the Fortune Teller to find out the location of the secret garden room and, all of your earlier wardrobe choices, made for a night out at superclub Matter become irrelevant as you rummage around in the dressing up box for a fish-net glove, top hat and a fake mustache.

This was Smirnoff’s U.R The Night party, held at the O2’s nightclub last week. The party’s content was devised and voted on by the fans of its Facebook group, who had been sending in their ideas by the bucket load for a chance to win free tickets.

The results, as you may expect, ranged from the clever to the comical, stopping off at inspired and good-fun idiocy along the way.

After a visit to the dressing up box, guests could either sit in the tattooists chair or head straight to the DIY cocktail bar, where you could create your own Smirnoff-based jumping juice.

A digital graffiti wall enabled guests to upload their masterpieces to Facebook in one click whilst a make-up station resulted in the art appearing on your face.

If you found yourself standing next to one of the KGB agents hiding behind their newspaper, you would be given a secret mission. If you stood next to an usherette you’d end up with another item of clothing to wear.

In the club’s second room, The Underground Rebel Bingo Club staged a game, which then turned into a game of swapping clothes. The room was finally taken over by Bristol club night, Monkey! Flash! Light! and everyone was given a torch for a night vision rave.

On the main stage, Little Boots and the Pet Shop Boys provided the headline half hour live sets whilst DJs Tom Middleton and Hot Chip kept the crowds jumping until the wee small hours.

It was a truly ridiculous evening that will have won the brand a lot of fans. It continues the Smirnoff Experience series, which has already appeared in Moscow, Shanghai, Paris and New York. The events celebrate originality in nightlife by bringing to life original concepts, forming one-off collaborations and championing original drinking experiences.

Congratulations to the team at RPM for making it happen and if anyone wants any of their stuff back, I appear to have an oversized Hawaiian shirt, a sun-visor, top hat, white feather boa, red fish-net glove and a lot of fun memories from a truly original club night.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Talking social media at Summer Eventia

Brighton played host to the Eventia Summer Conference this week so I headed to the south coast for three days of stimulating sessions on events industry trends, fun networking and a community programme that saw delegates painting a local school’s playground. (see more of my photos included in C&IT's 48 hours at Summer Eventia slideshow)

I was also there in my capacity as an events industry speaker. At 9.30am on the conference’s second day, I joined Simon Burton, MD of Exposure Communications and Rob Shimmin, MD of, to talk-up the benefits of social media to businesses.

The session drew a lot of interest from an industry that is still quite slow to embrace the opportunities presented by an ever-changing media landscape so I’ve decided to use this blog to repeat and expand on some of the key points.

Firstly, the events and hospitality industry needs to stop thinking of Twitter as a social tool for online conversation and start viewing it as a marketing and business channel that can be used for: amplification, community building, feedback, research, awareness and to build brand advocacy amongst business and consumer audiences.

Statistics that show how Twitter has transcended basic social networking include:
  • The total minutes spent on Twitter rose by a staggering 3712% from April 08 to April 09. (Neilson)

  • 88% of marketers say they are using some form of social media to market their business with Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn and Facebook, in that order, forming the top 4 social media tools used (

  • The average age of a twitter user is 35-49 (Neilson)

  • Twitter has more than 32 million users, an increase from about 2 million a year ago

  • Some Internet measurement services show that figure increasing 50% to 100% month over month. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Twitter is now growing at a mind-boggling 2,565 percent

  • Twitter reached more than 13 million people in the US during April 2009 and that’s just on its website (i.e. - not counting 3rd party applications and mobile) (Mashable)

  • The top two brands mentioned on Twitter as of May 2009 were Starbucks and Google

In a media rich and time poor environment, more and more people are selecting channels to allow for filtering of vast quantities of disseminated information. People want a lot of information instantly but need to find ways to focus on what’s useful or interesting or relevant.

This means that if an audience has a genuine interest in your proposition and has chosen Twitter as the key channel by which to filter their information, they are more likely to engage with your messages and click through on provided links than they are to engage with, say a newsletter that appears in their email inbox daily, or a piece of direct marketing that’s landed on their doorstep.

My example of the potential reach of Twitter made during the conference session:

I recently did a marketing consultancy exercise for an events industry client which involved live Tweeting from an event they were staging. They wanted to know the worth and potential reach of Twitter so that they could decide how to use it as an effective communications tool.

During the course of the event (one hour), I sent 10 Tweets with relevant key words and Hash tags:

  • The Tweets were Retweeted 17 times across the world

  • The furthest away was Retweeted in New Zealand

  • Of those 17 Twitter accounts that repeated one or more of my messages, the potential reach was 18.109 people

  • We exist in a world where content is accessible and free. The days of being able to control or manage that content are long-gone. Seeking the removal of online messages will now legitimize and simply bring further attention to any negative sentiment.

    Brand communication strategies have to focus on engagement. And the engagement needs to be long-term, from senior players in the business (rather than PRs) and abide by basic ‘Netiquette’ principles.

    By banning social media from your business, not only are you making a statement about your brand’s unwillingness to engage, but you’re also cutting off a key research tool that allows you to see what others are saying about your business in real time.

    Do you know your brand’s perception according to the Twitterverse?

    Remember, just as so much content is free, so too are the applications that allow you to broadcast or access this information.

    I’ve recently discovered AudioBoo - a free iPhone application that allows you to record five minute segments of speech before immediately publishing online.

    Here is five minutes of Rohit Talwar, CEO of Fast Future, predicting the future trends for the events industry at the Eventia conference: