MANY PEOPLE believe that being in events is exciting. You get to deal with all the glitz and glamour. Especially for a lifestyle brand, there are beautiful clothes, the gorgeous models and the glamorous pictures that you see printed in newspapers and magazines of Manila’s crème de la crème who showed up. What you don’t see though is all the dirt, grime and sleepless nights to be able to achieve a seamless and glamorous show.
Motoring events are another story. Yes, there are one-night launches and glamorous parties. But because your product tends to be more experiential to have a story, automotive companies with the help of their respective agencies have to design the whole brand experience, which sometimes takes them across to different parts of the world. Cars with their different design cues can take many forms and sizes, which can be translated into a theme. What is even harder is to make events for items such as tires, because they are all round, black and made of rubber.
The last week of November was a busy week for Japanese tiremaker Bridgestone. They had a two city shebang with two different groups of people—a group of classic and supercar enthusiasts from Cebu and a group of celebrities—to help create awareness and help protect the La Mesa Watershed.
The subtle event
The brand experience dinner in Cebu was with the Performance and Classic Car Enthusiast club, or Pace. It was a simple but classy dinner held at Jason Hyatt’s Italian restaurant Tavolata (Abaca group) attended by the likes of Rep. Red Durano, vice gubernatorial-aspirant Glen Soco, Cebu opthalmologist Yong Larazzabal and surgeon Peter Mancao, Loalde’s Chris Aldeguer, hotelier Lui Alvarez, businessmen Dareen Dee, Mike Jo, Tony Lozada, Harold Ong, Erwin Miranda, Bridgestone Cebu’s Jason Tochip and Bridgestone brand ambassador Kenneth Cobonpue. Headed by Bridgestone’s Marc Tagle, the contingent from Manila included Benjamin Young, Karl Bobis, Jason Peralta, and another brand ambassador and multi-awarded racer JP Tuason.
The challenge was how to make the dinner an experience of what the brand is about without overstimulating the attendee’s senses? Unlike motorsports, which screams branding all over and is quite expected to have, if not defined by, the festive atmosphere of those events, brand experiences are somewhat low key and not hard sell. Another challenge, especially for a consumer event, is its number of attendance with cars. The PACE members boast having some of the best classic cars restored to perfection in the country. They are very particular in terms of integrity and performance of the vehicles they collect, which was the underlying theme of the event, bringing together people and brand that are unapologetic about requiring top-of-the-line performance.
So that’s the glamour part. The dirt and grime was getting into Cebu at lunchtime, hoping your advance party has finished setting up. There is and will always be technical issues and for some reason the bane of my existence is always connecting the damn monitors to show the same thing. Of course there is this nail-biting anticipation whether your guests will show up with or without their cars.
The flashy celebrity event
The Sunday after this subtle Cebu dinner was the complete opposite. The Filinvest road was closed down to traffic Sunday to give way to four racing-inspired activities. As previously mentioned, racing is an assault to all the senses: visual, hearing, taste, feel, and smell. Visually, you will need to see lots of colors, the flashy cars, decaled racecars, beautiful women and a colorful displays and branding. And hear, of course, the roar of the engines. Likewise, your sense of taste, feel and smell would spike up your adrenalin.
This time this was the Bridgestone Celebrity Charity Cup. In their efforts to evolve into a tire company that cares for the environment, the people from Bridgestone helped raise awareness on how people can do their part in protecting the La Mesa Watershed. Partnering up with Bantay Kalikasan, other companies and media outfit including the Inquirer, they had a fun day of racing, showing off their products and all the while being environment-friendly. The guests included eye candies such as John Avila, Will Devaughn, Jason Abalos, Jed Madela, Magic 89.9’s Carla D, Sam YG and Boom Gonzalez, and a collection of male and female models. VIPs were also in attendance with their supercars like Café France’s Raymond Yap, FoilACar’s Lester Codog, Ford Alabang’s Paolo Boromeo, DJ Boyet Alamazan and brand ambassadors Ernie Lopez and Elbert Cuenca.
For events like this, safety is always an issue, since you wouldn’t know the level of driving capability of each attendee. You would need to create a not-so-complicated driving exercise that would not feel like a theme park ride for kids. Four exercises were made: karting, an autocross, a wet 4X4 urban-driving challenge, and a fuel economy challenge. If you don’t make the challenges exciting, you are not doing the product justice on highlighting its capabilities. If you make it too intense, no one would join lest their brands are associated with accidents. Although mishaps can (and will) still happen, preparation and crisis management protocols will help lower down the risk and, of course, their effects.
Another issue for non-racetrack activities is making one on public roads with a time span of two long-hair keratin treatments (about 8 hours). From 1 am to about 8 am, we needed to haul 1300 spare tires to make the kart track, connect 300 pieces of barriers, put up hundreds of banderitas, banners, tents and do a final time in motion run through. We had technical issues on some tire sizes, which prompted us to change one of the activities two days before the event.
But if all of this is done, behind the scenes without people knowing, participants will have a good time. And the show will be seamlessly presented. Of course there will always be some deviation to the plan, which might promote hair loss either through extreme stress or hair pulling. But the joy of seeing something from ground up materialized and the team being able to communicate the right brand message makes a nightcap of drinks more enjoyable after a long hard day.
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