Germany: Dynamism in Deutschland

Two specialists in the German live events sector tell Lorraine Francisco how their working culture compares with the UK's and demonstrate their creativity by coming up with step-by-step responses to a creative brief.

COLJA M DAMS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, VOK DAMS GRUPPE

After a period of thriftiness, the German events industry is back on track. The country is enjoying an economic revival, so companies are once again investing substantially in live marketing and events. This trend means more projects for established agencies and highlights the characteristics of the German market.

Geared towards success and keen to maximise the effectiveness of their communications, companies are looking at new ways of staging events. Run-of-the-mill staging and themed events are considered outdated. Sustainable, emotional, efficient, creative and extravagant productions are in vogue.

That is what agencies in Germany should offer. Some act and react successfully to the moods of the market, others simply fail.

Furthermore, direct targeting is becoming more and more important. Marketing events are no longer considered in an isolated way but as an integral part of strategic communications. As part of broader integrated campaigns, they must meet defined targets in order to satisfy clients' and employees' needs.

When it comes to organising events, the main question in Germany is no longer if a project is possible but how it can best be managed. How can events create authentic brand experiences? The range includes mobile marketing events establishing special product contacts, lifestyle presentations focused on sensitive and attractive themes, or employee events that ensure qualification as well as motivation. This, along with interest from international event planners, is what is stimulating the German market.

OUR EVENT BRIEF:

How would you organise a product launch or a major vodka brand launch aimed at 300 invited guests (VIPs, celebrities and buyers)?

The event should reflect the brand's identity, which is extravagant and exclusive. Please provide the kind of themes and venues you would choose, as well as AV and entertainment features.

An ordinary approach would include an individual special event or a series of special events in exclusive top-class clubs like the legendary P1 in Munich or Pacha Ibiza. There's one hitch, though: the addressed target group is often invited to similar venues and used to being pampered at special events.

Therefore we attract them on a more emotional level by offering innovative content and features. The venue and the theme are very important as well, but they are not the main focal point.

The surroundings will be like a fashion show in Milan, Paris, New York or Berlin. Examples of possible venues in Berlin include the Brandenburg Gate, which was used during this year's fashion week. Great importance is attached to the guest list and we will co-operate with a media partner such as Wallpaper or Vanity Fair.

In the run-up to the special event, the brand itself will not be communicated. This will rouse curiosity and create a mystic atmosphere.

New up-and-coming designers from the country that produces the vodka brand will design the clothes - but contrary to the audience's expectations, the items of clothing will not be worn on the body. The models will present the clothes, frozen in giant blocks of ice, on the catwalk. They will slide the life-size blocks along the stage and smaller blocks will be mounted on a pedestal with hidden wheels underneath and rolled along the stage. Models will be wearing a simple outfit in one colour. Lit candles will border the runway.

Finally, the special event will end with the presentation of the vodka bottles frozen in ice. Muscular male models will free the vodka with ice axes and the ice-cold drink will be served straight away.

An after show party will take place in a club such as the Sage Club or the Cafe Moskau, with a top DJ such as Jade Jagger's Jezebel creating a cool and extravagant atmosphere.

KAY SCHOENING, SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER, FIRST PROTOCOL EVENT MANAGEMENT

In soccer, England hasn't beaten Germany for years. But is Germany unbeatable in the events industry?

In 2006, Germany generated a stunning EUR38.5bn from business tourism. The country's image was boosted by the World Cup and the G8 Summit. Both events were so meticulously planned and flawlessly managed that they became marketing tools for generating more international events business.

The UK doesn't appear to have confirmed figures for conferences and events - there are no surveys specifically looking at the total impact of events nationwide, but an estimated figure of £5bn has been quoted. This is not even close to Germany's figures.

Berlin is its most popular destination due to its large choice of hotels and locations (the current interest from Hollywood helps, as The Bourne Ultimatum and Tom Cruise's Valkyrie were both filmed in the city). The country's financial hub, Frankfurt, has the largest number of luxury hotels with the new Mandarin Oriental opening in 2010.

When characterising the Germans, most people would probably mention efficiency and professionalism first. Take the language skills that Germans have into account as well, and this is why international clients like to come to Germany. Although, when planning three major events for MasterCard during the World Cup in Berlin, we sometimes felt that Germans could become more creatively adventurous and perhaps learn a thing or two from the UK industry.

Germany offers locations for any taste, size and budget, and several of the most spectacular locations are linked with admired car brands. Following Volkswagen's successful model of the Autostadt - an experiential world of automobiles - Mercedes opened its museum last year. The BMW World in Munich is due to open this October and Porsche will open its museum close to Stuttgart next year. Each one of these is an architectural masterpiece and an ideal event location.

For a different experience, we recommend the Meilenwerk (in Berlin and Dusseldorf), which features a valuable collection of classic cars and related suppliers combined with a designated event area. It's a truly unique experience for clients.

Security is something else Germany does well - note the subtle but successful approach at the World Cup and the G8 summit.

The last point is about ecological awareness. Before she became president of the EU Council for the first half of 2007, Chancellor Angela Merkel published guidelines for the environmentally sound organisation of events. Germany's record in this regard is well known, which makes it a good choice for eco-conscious event planners.

OUR EVENT BRIEF:

How would you organise a product launch for a major vodka brand launch aimed at 300 invited guests (VIPs, celebrities and buyers)?

The event should reflect the brand's identity, which is extravagant and exclusive. Please provide the kind of themes and venues you would choose, as well as AV and entertainment features.

- The vodka product for this brief is already established as a well-known lifestyle brand and is popular in Germany. The target group is trendy 25 to 35-year-old males and females. The event will host 300 guests consisting of VIPs and celebrities and will be a funky and upbeat party in the evening.

To differentiate this launch from other vodka launches, we will focus on vodka's key ingredients: water, grain and heat. These will feature throughout the evening in different forms and this is why the the name of the event is Ingredients.

Attendance will be by personal invitation only and the guest list will be made up of top German and international celebrities. A personalised limited-edition glass by exclusive crockery designer Ritzenhoff will be sent out along with the invitation. Guests will be asked to bring glasses to the event to gain entry.

The Goya, a recently reopened and renovated retro-modern theatre, will be the venue. It will hold just over 300 guests with lounge seating, a stage, food stations and dance floor area. Alternative locations could be the Russian Embassy or Axica right next to the Brandenburg Gate.

The theme will be based on purity and style, with water features such as a water-curtain with the vodka brand's logo and water lilies. Grain art in various modern designs will be dotted around the venue. There will be different areas with tables and lounge seating, all with views on to the main stage.

Kofler Kompanie, one of the best and most innovative caterers in Germany, will take the guests on a culinary journey through Russia by presenting a reinvention of traditional food. Vodka is drunk as part of a very long meal consisting of many small dishes that are being served along with each vodka. Zakuskis (cold dishes such as marinated tomatoes, caviar, herring and sardines) contain acid and salt to neutralise the alcohol and are followed by Goryacheye (hot dishes) which can be anything from Russian potato salad to meat dishes.

Heat is a mandatory ingredient too and will be represented by several short and upbeat performances. Examples would be artists from the Great Moscow State Circus, jazz street musicians, a fashion show and dance music from Russia's best DJs.

To give the event the exclusive touch, we will invite selected VIPs (models, moderators, film stars) to be official spokespeople for the new product before and during the event. With every round of vodka, a toast will be made from the main stage by selected VIP guests.

To mark the event, oversized vodka-shot glasses, designed by artists and celebrities, will be visible throughout the city. The way to drink vodka, along with traditional recipes, will be published on the vodka brand's homepage, and there will be a competition for vodka toasts and vodka cocktail recipes.

Because of drinking laws, the event and general marketing have to handle encouragement of drinking and especially underage drinking very carefully.


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