My Event World - Benjamin Reed

Benjamin Reed, business development director of experiential specialists Closer, on appearing on the Weakest Link and dressing up as a Twiglet.

My Event World - Benjamin Reed
My Event World - Benjamin Reed

I got into the events industry because somebody asked me to dress up as a Twiglet at university and stand outside a Tesco store. While getting paid £40 for my efforts, I was amazed at the power live media had when connecting with consumers and influencing behaviour.

I have worked here since leaving the Engine Group as head of experiential in 2009.

I was attracted to this particular role because I enjoy working across a variety of sectors and working with a dedicated, intelligent and passionate team producing innovative work.

Not many people know that I appeared on the Weakest Link on the day of the terrorist attacks, 11 September 2001. I’m not telling you where I finished.

My worst experience at an event was when thieves outwitted our security staff and stole our entire sampling stock of premium whisky from a secure marquee on the morning of a huge sporting event. It made the task of visiting 25 cash and carries in the area like a scene out of Challenge Anneka. If only we had GPS location based software in 1998.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that an effective campaign can only be called effective if all parties are completely clear on the objectives prior to the go live date and they are measured intelligently.

The best event I’ve been involved in (and which is still live) is working with Panasonic in the early stages of its 2012 official sponsorship awareness programme. Recently we held a high-profile open day at Trafalgar Square, which brought together Capital radio, the Flawless dance troop, a Panasonic 3D zone, Olympian and Locog official appearances and a photo call with the 2012 mascot Wenlock. The event was streamed onto a 60sqm screen in real time.

If I could do it all over again I would have coined the phrase ‘experiential marketing’ earlier in my marketing career. Finally, guests at dinner parties understand what I do without the need for a five minute garbled monologue.

The one thing I can’t stand is marketers perceiving events-based marketing as a lesser medium to traditional disciplines. The balance of power is shifting from above the line media to below the line disciplines as experiential and digital mediums are now the two fastest growing mediums and work seamlessly together. Let’s not forget that the first TV ad was only 55 years ago and I predict that by 2025, we will see client spend on live face-to-face marketing eclipse that of traditional push advertising for the first time in our history.

Outside of work I spend my time discovering new places, meeting new people and listening to weird and wonderful music.

If money were no object I would build the ultimate ‘experience park’ on a remote island in the Indian Ocean offering consumers an experience of a lifetime without queuing or rain.

The one event I will never miss is the match day when (not if) Queens Park Rangers get back into the premier league.

The next 12 months will be the most exciting period of time for live marketing and in particular experiential marketing. As we bridge the gap between live offline and online experiences we will see our industry flourish.

If I could switch places with anyone else in the industry it would be Michael Eavis.

If I ruled the event industry I would reduce the amount of paperwork by half.


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