My Event World - Jonathan Schultz

Jonathan Schultz, CEO of experiential agency Ambient, talks to Event about being inspired by the movies, his musical training and breaking away from the traditional means of engaging an audience.

Schultz is CEO of experiential agency Ambient
Schultz is CEO of experiential agency Ambient

I got into the event industry because… I love creating experiences. What excited me the most is being in the privileged position of creating memories which people carry with them. My passion for creating experiences really began when I was young. I was fortunate to spend a lot of my time working on film sets – from running to set production and sound design. The thrill and buzz of working with a crew was infectious and has definitely influenced the way I work today.

I have worked here since… September 2002. I had spent a period of around four years working at Nielsen where I learned a lot about what brands are looking to achieve and worked primarily on Coca-Cola and Reckitt Benckiser’s global account. While this was an incredibly significant period in my own personal development I had a burning desire to move back into a creative role – and that’s when I jumped ship and set up Ambient.

I was attracted to this particular role because... I saw that there had not been an awful lot of innovation in the UK at that moment in time. In other markets I had noticed a trend towards less traditional means of engaging an audience. On a trip back home to Sydney I was inspired by a guerrilla marketing campaign and that was it. I got back to the UK and got cracking.

Not many people know that… I studied music at uni and did a Masters in Film Music Composition and love the work of Ennio Morricone. In terms of pulling an audience into a story music and sound design plays a crucial role and I always feel as though my background fits nicely within the skills required in the industry.

The best event I’ve been involved was... a product launch roadshow we activated for Clinique’s DDML+. We created a theatrical performance as the centre piece of an engaging sampling campaign. The flash mob style of the show had a massive impact and when you see thousands of people stopping and enjoying what you’ve been part of creating was incredibly satisfying.

If I could do it all over again I would… get started sooner. I think when I was younger I was a little too cautious and the move from a stable job with all its trimmings to going out there and starting a business with virtually nothing is a daunting prospect, so looking back I'd like to have had the confidence to be a little bolder.

The one thing I can’t stand is... dishonesty. We’ve built our agency on a few core values and ‘open and honest relationships’ is one of them. It’s the foundation for any solid working relationship and the opposite is intolerable.

Outside of work I spend my time... with my family. I have two young boys and an amazing wife. They keep me grounded and remind me not to "sweat the small stuff".

If money were no object I would… make a movie.

If I could switch places with anyone else in the industry it would be... an interesting experiment. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have been able to follow the path I have and wouldn’t want it to be any other way. But, if pushed I think I’d like to switch places (temporarily) with a creative producer. For me it’s where a lot of the magic happens and definitely one of the more satisfying roles within the industry which I like to keep in close touch with.

If I ruled the event industry I would… reduce the amount of waste. It seems that there are so many occasions whereby assets are not able to be re-purposed or recycled. I would endeavour to find a way to improve this.

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