When deciding where in the world (literally) I wanted to go for my MKTG Rewards trip, I came up with a few ideals:
Must be one of the furthest countries possible
With a captivating history and super cool culture
That offers tons of adventuresome activity yet an abundance of untouched nature and breathtaking scenery
Where we can discover awesome food, drink some of the world’s best wine, meet the nicest people and have the opportunity to go to a legendary concert
And a beach…there’s gotta be a beach.
Surely these ridiculously high expectations could only be met in a fantasy country?! Or perhaps, a country that produced one of the most successful fantasy film series of all time…
Cue New Zealand.
After sharing my ambition with Marlena Edwards, she said, “Girl, if you’re going all the way to New Zealand you HAVE to go to Fiji!!”
My boyfriend, Dave, and I started our journey in a very fitting way – we sat back, relaxed and watched The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made on our Air New Zealand flight to Queenstown. Most MKTGers have had their fair share of airplane safety but this one is worth watching, despite the fact that at the end of the video you won’t take off for vacation.
After 22 long hours of travel we landed on the south island and made our way to an Airbnb apartment on the edge of a cliff, overlooking snowcapped mountains and turquoise-blue water. Our first activity included a visit to a cozy vineyard, a four-course lunch and A LOT of wine – perfect way to recover from jetlag. We explored Queenstown and hit the famed Fergburger, which nearly put us into food comas before jumping in our car for a road-trip.
Driving along the coast of New Zealand was one of my favorite parts of the trip. The country’s vistas were spectacular (it was hard not to drive off the road while being distracted by the beauty!) We made it to our kayak tour of Milford Sound, which is a fiord in the south island. Officially, a fiord is a long, narrow inlet with steep cliffs created by glacial erosion. Unofficially, it’s really cold(!) and one of the most remarkable sights I’ve ever experienced. With waterfalls, mountains and adorable little penguins, Dave and I were in awe as we kayaked through the area. After an overnight cruise, we hiked our way north and made the trek back towards Queenstown.
How did we top such an awesome adventure to end the Queenstown segment of the trip? Jump off a bridge, of course! Before we could change our minds, Dave and I found ourselves clipped into individual bungees on the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge. 43 meters and a 4-second free-fall later (it felt like an eternity), we could say that we lived through the scariest adrenaline rush ever! The video still makes my stomach flip:
Auckland, on the north island, is the metropolitan area of New Zealand so after getting a taste of kiwi city life, we boarded a ferry and headed to the most popular holiday destination of locals, Waiheke Island. Here we zip-lined our way around the beautiful, warm environment and spent the remainder of the day exploring vineyards, known for their Bordeaux wine-type grapes.
The Coromandel Peninsula was the next stop on our itinerary. Dave and I took a boat to a bus to a beach where we discovered the Coromandel’s hot springs. Just a few feet from the chilly ocean water, we dug a large hole in the sand and relaxed in the thermal water. We continued on to Cathedral Cove for a hike down to a beach with phenomenal rock formations.
How did we top such thrills and gorgeous sights to end the Auckland segment of the trip? A Rolling Stones concert, of course! Dave and I were lucky enough to score tickets to The Stones’ last stop on their tour. It was an epic way to end our time spent in New Zealand.
Thanks to Marlena’s advice, we were able to recover from the boats, hikes, bridges, drives and wine while laying on a white-sand beach at the Lomani Resort on the Mamanuca group of islands in Fiji. Snorkeling, paddle boarding and hammock-ing (with Pina Coladas) was how we spent these blissful days. The Fijian people are so welcoming and the serene atmosphere felt as if it were a dream.
So, how do we top the most epic vacation ever taken? Not sure it’s possible, but we are up for the challenge! Thank you, MKTG, for providing the best reward possible: an unforgettable experience.
The holiday season is upon us. However you celebrate, it’s an exciting and crazy time of year – the lights, the gifts, the time with friends and family. The shopping, the wrapping, the cooking. Fighting for a parking space, elbowing for an XBox and clamoring for an aisle seat. Rudolph marathons, office parties, tinsel everywhere, Christmas Carols, the Elf on a Shelf OMG WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON NEW YEAR’S EVE?
Woah, I’m thirsty. Are you thirsty?
Nothing will put you in the holiday spirit like a signature seasonal cocktail in front of the fireplace. Heck, if you don’t have a fireplace, turn on the Yule Log channel (it’s a real thing) and your space heater and grab a blanket and a buddy.
To help, here’s a few drink ideas from our friends at Diageo for the #12DaysofCocktails. And to help guarantee your name will be on the “nice” list after that fit you threw over the aisle seat, you might consider leaving one of these for Santa instead of those milk and cookies.
Johnnie Walker Gilded Punch
1 1/2 ounces Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve™
¼ ounce Dolin Blanc Vermouth
¼ ounce Simple Syrup
½ ounce Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1 ounce Brut Champagne
Combine all ingredients except the champagne, in a mixing tin. Shake and strain into a champagne flute. Top with champagne. Garnish with a wide lemon twist. (Recipe courtesy of Andy Seymour for Johnnie Walker)
Zacapa Solera Hot Cocoa
1 1/4 ounces Zacapa Rum 23
1/2 ounce Pedro Ximenez Sherry
5 ounces Hot Cocoa
Grated Cinnamon and Cracked Pink Peppercorn for Garnish
Combine rum, sherry and hot cocoa into a cocktail shaker. Shake well. Pour contents into glass mug. Garnish with grated cinnamon and pink peppercorn. (Recipe by Lynnette Marrero for Zacapa)
Build by pouring tequila and lemon juice over fresh ice in a collins glass. Top with equal parts spiced cider and ginger beer. Top with a dash of apple bitters. Garnish with candied ginger. (Recipe courtesy of Marshall Altier for Don Julio)
Ketel One Ernesto’s Way
1 ½ ounces Ketel One® Vodka
½ ounce Fresh Lime Juice
¼ ounce Maraschino Liqueur
1 dash Absinthe
2 ounces Grapefruit Soda
Combine first four ingredients in a mixing glass. Shake with ice and strain into a collins glass filled with ice. Top with grapefruit soda. Garnish with a mint sprig. (Recipe by Michael Martensen for Ketel One)
Don Julio Sage & Fig Smash
1 1/2 ounces Tequila Don Julio Reposado
5 Lemon Wedges
1/2 ounce Grenadine
2 slices Mission Fig
2 whole Star Anise
4-5 Sage Leaves
Muddle lemon wedges and star anise with grenadine in a cocktail shaker. Add tequila, sage sprig and 1 slice fig to the cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with fig slice, star anise and sage sprig. (Recipe courtesy of Marshall Altier for Don Julio)
Don Julio Siesta
1 1/2 ounces Tequila Don Julio Blanco
1/4 ounce Campari
3/4 ounce Fresh Lime Juice
3/4 ounce Simple Syrup
1/2 ounce Grapefruit Juice
Grapefruit Peel for Garnish
Combine tequila, Campari, fresh lime juice, simple syrup and grapefruit juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain contents into a coupe glass. Garnish with a long peel of grapefruit. (Recipe courtesy of Marshall Altier for Don Julio)
Zacapa Vines & Fallen Leaves (Punch – serves 30)
4 cups Zacapa Rum
1/4 cup Orange Liqueur
1 cup Riesling Sparkling Wine, chilled
1 cup Sparkling Water, chilled
1/4 cup Pumpkin Spice Syrup
1 cup Fresh Lemon Juice
Fresh Sage and Cinnamon for Garnish
Combine lemon juice and pumpkin spice syrup into large punch bowl or pitcher and stir. Add in rum, orange liqueur, Riesling and sparkling water and stir gently until blended. Add Ice. Strain into punch glasses. Garnish with fresh sage and cinnamon. (Recipe by Lynnette Marrero for Zacapa)
Captain Morgan Snow Storm
1¼ ounces Captain Morgan White Rum
1 ounce Rumchata
¼ ounce Rumpleminz
Fill shaker with ice. Combine ingredients, shake and pour into a glass. Drizzle with chocolate syrup. (Recipe courtesy of Captain Morgan)
Ketel One Oranje Midnight Toddy
1 ½ ounces Ketel One Oranje® Flavored Vodka
1 ounce Fresh Lemon Juice
1 ounce Clover Honey
4 ounces Boiling Water
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 stick Cinnamon
2 whole Star Anise
4 whole Cloves
Combine all ingredients in a large glass mug, adding boiling water last. Stir until honey is dissolved. Garnish with an orange wedge. (Recipe courtesy of Jaren Grae Rivas for Ketel One)
Tanqueray Gin Flip
1 ¼ ounces Tanqueray® London Dry
½ ounce almond syrup
½ ounce heavy cream
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Shake vigorously and pour into a coupe glass. Garnish with star anise. (Recipe courtesy of Tanqueray)
MKTGers, it’s holiday season at last, and for those of us in the UK office, that means terrific confusion on holiday traditions and vocabulary. To help alleviate the anxiety, below is glossary of holiday terms in common use over here in the British Isles. Brilliant.
1. Christmas “Sweater” vs Christmas “Jumper“: They both look equally tacky at Christmas parties, they’re just called something different on opposite sides of the pond. Likewise, you can jump in a jumper as easily as you can sweat in a sweater. Again, brilliant.
2. Cheers: While Americans serve eggnog, an odd concoction of milk, sugar, eggs and brandy, during the holidays, the Brits have their own weird festive drink: the Wassail (from the phrase meaning “good health” in Old English), which consists of hot mulled cider or wine. The common denominator in all of this is, of course…booze. Cheers indeed.
3. Christmas Crackers: We implore you, please do not eat a Christmas cracker, even if it does kind of look like a wrapped candy. A Christmas cracker is actually a gift tube that hold treats, bad jokes and paper crowns. The highly competitive moment when all family members converge to pull apart their crackers with a pop is the stuff of family legend across Britain. Word of advice, though: don’t try opening one on an airplane. Trust me on this point.
5. Black Friday vs Boxing Day: The biggest shopping day of the year has different names on either side of the pond. In the US it’s called Black Friday and happens the day after Thanksgiving. The British call their day Boxing Day, but it happens the day after Christmas and isn’t nearly as scary.
For this month’s Guest Column, we sat down with Peter Pearce, who heads up the Atlanta office for our new sister agency, psLIVE. Hear how he got where he is, where he’s going and why he loves his job.
Tell us about psLIVE – how do you describe the company to strangers?
My elevator pitch usually starts with defining “lifestyle marketing” (sports, entertainment, grassroots, retail) and who our clients are. Then I describe the work we do: Large-scale sponsorship activation, event development, mobile tours, sampling, street teams, staffing. You take it for granted because you live it every day, but the usual reaction is “that sounds like a lot of fun,” and it is!
What differentiates psLIVE from the competition?
I think it all starts with our values – we live them every day. We are fiercely competitive, and our reputation for “doing it right” has followed us since inception. Secondly, the Dentsu Aegis push to collaborate across agency brands is a huge advantage – shared insights, tools and resources are a great business driver. Finally, we’re not just a creative, client-service and production agency. We are vertically integrated, with assets and services inhouse that many agencies outsource. This allows us to achieve budget efficiencies and get to market quickly.
What three words would you use to describe your staff?
Best. In. Class.
How did you get into this industry?
It’s sobering to realize I’ve been in the business for 18 years! I finished school and worked for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games after school, then I began in the agency world at what is now CSE (formerly Career Sports Entertainment). After five years, I helped open the Atlanta office of Strategic Sports Group, where I spent another five years building that business. I’ve now been with psLIVE (formerly Vivid and Team Epic) for eight years, and it has been a great ride so far.
Looking back at 2014, do you have a few favorite programs or campaigns your teams managed?
That’s hard because we emotionally invest so much in all our clients, but a few programs stand out. Our work on ESPN’s Heisman House is remarkable because of sheer scale, complexity and inherent logistical challenges. Our USTA work, which showcased the US Open of Tomorrow exhibit, really pushed the design envelope. And our work for AT&T is constantly evolving to keep pace with technology and continue to integrate into the consumer experience.
How has technology changed the way you approach the business?
The smart phone has dramatically changed the event landscape, and we’ve leveraged technology in creative and compelling ways. We strive to design a pre/during/post-event engagement via mobile and social channels because mobile technology shortens the time between brand engagement and purchase. I see a bright future for two-screen interactive experiences at events, where you use your personal device to play on larger screens, or to create physical action onsite. You’ll also see more photo opportunities designed for selfies, and a decline in green screen/photo booths. Finally, I think beacons, NFC and other pushes to mobile engagements will become more prevalent in 2015.
What publications/website do you find most relevant?
I always try to stay current with AdWeek, MediaPost, BrandWeek, etc. to understand the broader media world. I also read traditional Lifestyle Marketing media like Event Marketer, Sports Business Journal and BizBash. However, I think the single most relevant website I visit frequently is Reddit – it’s truly the “front page of the Internet.” Although it’s not always totally PC, no other website captures the current cultural zeitgeist like Reddit.
What are your favorite apps?
The ones I use routinely are pretty limited, but my essentials are Uber, Spotify, Delta Airlines, Waze (traffic in ATL sucks), Open Table, GolfNow and Instagram.
What excites you about psLIVE’s integration with MKTG INC?
I’m most excited about the combined potential of two agencies coming together. The whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts, and I’m looking forward to what 2015 holds. We’re so culturally similar: the type of work we do, how we do it, and everyone I’ve met along the way has been great!
What do you do to relax?
With this job, and two active kids under 10 at home, relaxation comes in small doses. I’m a formerly avid golfer, fisherman, skier and sailor, so I try to vacation where I can combine at least a few of these. Also, cocktails.
Have you looked at your business card recently? If not you should. MKTG INC’s cards are known for their unique perspective and purpose (the latter being expressly to embarrass their bearer, natch). This column takes a look at the business cards of our coworkers and hears the stories behind them. Here’s the story behind the business card of Kim Barrett, Account Group Director in MKTG INC’s New York headquarters.
Feeling lucky? We are.
Actually I think I am the lucky one – because every day I have the chance to work with some of the most exciting and innovative clients in the world. From helping ESPN, College Football Playoff, and NASCAR kick off their new formats, to creating a new, fresh community-outreach project for MSNBC, my days are filled with new experiences.
That’s because as a former spokesperson for the New York Lottery, Kim brings with her a special insider knowledge of what it means to be lucky.
To be honest, I consider myself lucky that all of the jokes surrounding that job description no longer apply. Use your imaginations – but let’s just say people liked to cross that line …
And she brings that enthusiasm to work for our clients – she knows exactly how to make all their dreams come true.
I don’t know about making dreams come true, but I do live by the tenet that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing with 100% commitment and passion.
So yeah, we feel pretty lucky to have her.
The feeling is mutual!
From a hill in San Francisco, Alcatraz doesn’t look like a cerebral place. The famed, now-defunct prison blends seamlessly into the tan rock bobbing in the middle of the Bay and gives off a faint aura of mob-era menace and Nicholas Cage’s glory days. In a city filled with ever-evolving street art, a vibrant contemporary gallery scene and internationally renowned museums, one of the last places you would look for a groundbreaking art show would be in the middle of the water.
And yet, the confluence of Alcatraz’s history, dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and San Francisco’s own FOR-SITE Foundation seemed to be a perfect mix. When Cheryl Haines, the Executive Director of FOR-SITE Foundation, approached the artist with the idea for the show, Ai was restricted from leaving China since his passport was revoked in 2011. His work, specifically created for exhibit within the famed prison, was developed in his Beijing studio using spatial plans provided to him from the FOR-SITE Foundation staff and then recreated remotely in California using the artist’s exacting directions.
Ai is an ideal artist to feature in a place like Alcatraz, and FOR-SITE is theoretically an ideal group to help make that show a reality. FOR-SITE describes itself as dedicated “to the creation, understanding and presentation of art about place,” and ideally used their resources to marry the work of an artist particularly concerned with social justice and human rights with a location particularly rich in matters of justice and activism. Four rooms in the prison are dedicated to exhibits; one large gallery spread with LEGO portraits of significant human rights activists was particularly moving. The exhibit, titled ‘@Large’, is open through April 26, 2015.
Football season may have started September 4th, but the real fun kicked off when Smirnoff Ice launched the Ladies with Game Tailgate tour in NYC. Hudson Mercantile played host to a packed tailgate bash, where attendees enjoyed cocktails made from the Smirnoff Ice portfolio, including the Screwdriver Sangria and the Preparada, a Southwestern favorite made from fresh fruits, chamoy (a popular condiment in Mexican cuisine), and Smirnoff Ice Green Apple. Of course, it wouldn’t be a tailgate without the right bites, and there was no shortage of sliders, mac and cheese, buffalo tater tots, and chicken and waffle bites.
DJ Stef Nava provided high energy tunes as guests challenged each other to corn hole, giant Jenga and a backyard tire football toss competition. For those not ready to get their heels dirty, DryBar provided blowouts and Ami V and Ria Lopez gave custom manicures to prepare them for their photo booth session. Everyone knows that a tailgate is nothing without a proper host to make everyone feel at home, so singer and reality TV personality Jessie James Decker was in attendance to lead the festivities and show off her impressive arm in the football toss challenge. It appears she’s been practicing in the backyard with her husband.
Smirnoff Ice also brought the tailgate party tour to fans across the country over the past two months with help from other celebrity hosts like Keshia Knight Pulliam, Charissa Thompson, Jennifer Hale, and Lindsay Gladden. Nail Taxi also helped to provide manicures throughout the tour while attendees danced to beats from DJ Eskada in DC, DJ Rasyrious in Atlanta and Nashville, DJ Lezlee in San Diego, DJ Beverly Skillz in New Orleans, and DJ K Stonez in Charlotte. Guests were able to come away from each event with a great new look, fun memories with friends, and some great food and drink ideas to host tailgate parties of their own throughout football season.
MKTG INC London recently traveled to Milan, Italy, for the opening of the first ever Moxy Hotel – a new lifestyle, design-led economy hotel brand from the Marriott group.
The launch event marked the crescendo of ‘Blank Canvas‘ – a six-month campaign designed and produced by MKTG INC that positioned the brand as a supporter of young mural artists to help it engage with its target millennial audience.
Over the past six months, more than 300 mural artists globally entered works of art inspired by Moxy. Three finalists were chosen by a panel of judges, including the editors of our media partners Street Art News and Global Street Art.
More than 150 travel media, bloggers and influencers from across Europe attended the event, which was hosted by MTV presenter and top model Laura Hayden and Redbull DJ Stefy Oyadi. The launch climaxed with the Blank Canvas contest finale, in which the artists created a live piece of artwork in just 60 minutes in front of the party crowd.
The winner, Nune Kerobyan, won €3,000 and the opportunity to contribute to the design of future Moxy locations throughout Europe.
What are the 3 most innovative events you’ve seen this year?
The most impressive thing I’ve seen this year was the coat check line at the opening media party for the Super Bowl. It was a freezing cold night and thousands of execs were gathered at Chelsea Piers. The company coatchex.com used texting and QR codes as coat-check tickets — you took a picture of your code, then your phone number became your ticket number; this made the experience of retrieving your coat actually fun. As I was going to get my jacket, I got a text saying that my coat would be ready for me. It was one of those new ideas that gave me goosebumps.
I also liked the Summit Series, a conference started by a group of innovators who bought a mountaintop resort, turning it into a $100 million real estate deal. The event itself was a gateway into relationships that changed the world. Attendees interacted with everyone from astronauts to politicians to Internet billionaires. They also created the world’s largest collaborative dinner by hiking people into the mountains and creating a table for 1,000 people.
C2 Montreal has also been a game-changer. People who attend feel like they’re entering a whole new role of collaboration that invigorates, inspires and creates lasting relationships.
Some brands that we think are really capturing the power of the event are outlined in our Top 10 Innovative Brands of 2014 story.
How has the growth of mobile technology affected your business?
Mobile has been one of the most important developments in events. That, along with responsive design, has changed the game. Event professionals want to hold the world in their pocket, and the concept of photo sharing has changed events—because ROI can now be judged not by the people in the room, but by the application of those people.
I’m reminded of the book The Mobile Wave, which talks about going up to a tombstone, holding up your phone, and having augmented reality show every video and article about that person. Imagine doing that in a live room just by wearing Google Glass or another device.
What do you envision to be the next trend or industry shift?
An empowered attendee is the next big thing. With new technology, we are seeing more power in the hands of the attendee. Now, the attendee needs to know how to be a great guest, and use it. They need to interact with other people to get the most out of the event, and they really have to want to be there.
Previously, I was the VP of corporate communications for major companies and spent hours preparing CEOs for events. We would collect guest bios and provide strategies on how to get what we wanted from them. Now with the advent of things like event apps, attendees have more power than ever, and can use the tools created by organizers to enhance their experience.
You’ve said that one of your interests is using events as a philanthropic tool. What does that mean to you?
I believe in the concept of managed serendipity. Get the right people in the room, inspire them, show them how other people are using collaboration, and people will get on board to help your cause. There’s nothing like face-to-face events to motivate people. In Simon Sinek’s TED-talk, he says great leaders don’t have plans, they have dreams. He also says that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you are doing it. Events are a natural gathering place for people who want to follow their hearts, rub elbows and share experiences.
As you’ve probably heard, MKTG INC was acquired by Dentsu Aegis Network this fall. With this exciting development comes the great news that psLIVE, another Dentsu agency, and MKTG INC are now in the same happy agency family. Here’s a note from our new friends in Atlanta:
“With the recent addition of MKTG INC to the Dentsu Aegis Network family, we here in Atlanta are looking forward to working with a great, innovative group. And you then must be wondering – what is with those guys in Atlanta? Who are they? What is their office like? Does it smell like Chick-Fil-A?
Well first, psLIVE is made up of brand strategists, creatives, producers and innovators with a passion for doing things different in order to deliver a better live brand experience. And to be honest, that pretty much describes every one of us. We are a small group of around 60, so each of us wear a lot of hats. We’re all creatives who find ways to do things differently for our clients. At the same time, we’re all producers with frontline field experience. Whether behind the desk or behind the pallet jack, we love every step of the process, from start to finish.
Part of the reason we’re so hands-on is that we have the privilege of having our office attached to our warehouse of truss, trucks and toys. Between our office, warehouse and outdoor storage of buses and trailers, we come to work every day to a 100,000-square-foot operations center. This allows us to be active with our inventory on a day-to-day basis and gives us the space to experiment and have fun. At times our warehouse has been home to inflatables, a functional bar, a helicopter, and a fully serviceable batting cage. Not to mention all of the internal events and parties we can throw in the vast space!
A few of our key clients include AT&T, ESPN, PepsiCo, Peet’s Coffee and Tea, Southwest Airlines, the NFL, the USTA and ConAgra Foods. In addition to Atlanta, we have people in Norwalk and Chicago.
And yes, we are obsessed with Chick-Fil-A. It’s the best.