“I Am the Queen of Chicago”

Eliud Kipchoge Rita Jeptoo

The Chicago Marathon is the definition of an epic event. Television and radio commercials take place leading up to the big day, getting the city prepared and excited for the ordeal. 1.5 million, that’s right, million spectators get out on the sidelines to cheer on strangers by their first names (which are often proudly displayed on their shirts).

To a runner, this weekend is the world. I will always hold my marathon race-days as the best days of my life. If you really think about it, you’re a celebrity for a day. Streets of 29 different Chicago neighborhoods shut down simply to let you run through them. Strangers tailgate for hours just to cheer you on while they enjoy a good bloody mary. The entire city is asking questions like, “What are you doing for Marathon?” As a runner, you get to say, “I’m running the marathon,” and enjoy all the #respect that comes with that declaration.

Last weekend marked the first in 2 years that I was not lining up with 45,000 other runners getting ready to #OwnChicago. It was a rather bittersweet experience, though it did allow me to experience a part of the race I had not yet seen, the elite runners.

This year, I watched from the sidelines at Mile 24. The mile I remember so distinctly being the first moment you truly know you’re almost done. You’re running in the direction of the finish line, you can vaguely see your last turn, and even at your absolute slowest run you don’t have more than 12 minutes left.   This mile means so much more to the elite runners. This is the moment of truth. This is after the runners kick-up their speed for that last drive. You can feel their passion as they fly passed. I quickly realized I couldn’t even sprint at their marathon pace.

I watched as the fastest men passed, knowing that it would be close as they all picked-up their speed moving toward the finish line. Eliud Kipchoge ultimately took first place.   Kipchoge missed a personal best by just 6 seconds, and it was his fourth time finishing under 2:06, the only other three men who have met this milestone have been the fastest men in the world at some point in their career. As Kipchoge passed the finish line, we saw the first woman elite runner Rita Jeptoo pass by our cheer-station. She was amazing, fearlessly running towards the finish line. Jeptoo went on to finish as the woman champion of the 2014 Chicago Marathon. She is one of 6 women in the world to win the Chicago Marathon two consecutive years.

Jeptoo’s quote of the day, according to ESPN, is “I am the Queen of Chicago.” That she was, and hopefully every other person passing the finish line felt overwhelmed with a similar sensation. As far as I’m concerned, those finishers, elite and otherwise, do #OwnChicago and, even for a mere moment, they’re Chi-Royalty.

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Written by Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle
Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle

October 17th, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Using RFID to Improve the Customer Experience

Photo Courtesy of Tomorrowland.com

Today, RFID technology is so much more than an IPass or a race-timer. The technology has changed the way huge corporations such as Wal-Mart handle their supply chain management, the way retail stores prevent shoplifting, and has provided many new opportunities in the events and experiential marketing spaces.

Each year technology is amplifying the consumer experience. Here are a few ways events are utilizing RFID technology to improve the experience:

Tomorrowland Music Festival:
This Belgium music festival took to the wristband trend over the traditional admission ticket. When guests received their wristbands in the mail they could register their band to connect with their Facebook page. During the course of the two-weekend event, if any two-guests pressed the button on their wristband at the same time while they were very close to one another, the other person’s Facebook info would be shared via email. Every day the guest attended the festival they received an email of all the people they met that day.

Photo courtesy of TasteofToronto.com

Photo courtesy of TasteofToronto.com

Taste of Toronto:
The Taste of Toronto used RFID a little differently than just an admission ticket. They said goodbye to the dated, ticket method for paying for food and drinks and provided each attendee with an RFID card. The guests could load money on the card and use the card to pay for all food and drinks at the event. At the end of the day, if there was money left over on the card it was donated to Second Harvest Food Rescue, rather than just being 15 (useless) extra tickets in that guest’s pocket.

C2MTL, the Commerce and Creativity conference in Montreal, used U.H.F tags (similar to RFID but functions from as far away as 30-feet) to help staff the event. The tags were on each badge of the guests and the chandeliers were U.H.F-enabled to receive information from the guests’ badges. Producers knew when people entered the building and passed security successfully, and they also knew when to add extra staff to populous food stations.

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival:
Bonnaroo draws thousands of guests to Tennessee each June. Guests registered their RFID wristbands online before attending the event, and in Bonnaroo’s partnering with Microsoft, linked them with a Microsoft OneDrive account. Every time the guest visited a photobooth or viewed a performance, they could scan their RFID band and have photos sent and saved to their account.

Checkout some more smart uses of RFID in the BizBash article: “6 Events Using R.F.I.D. Technology to Improve the Guest Experience.”

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Not Your Grandfather’s Gin: Tanqueray Raises the Bar

Photos by Kelly Puleio

Photos by Kelly Puleio

The Tanqueray Green Room is back and better than ever.  This event series invites owners, bartenders, and servers to spend three days enriching themselves with new techniques, category expertise and leadership philosophy. The goal of the Green Room is to not only education guests about Gin and Tanqueray, but to leave them inspired and energized to raise their game, either behind the bar or in leading a team. Green Room 3.0 launched in San Francisco on September 22-24, and each day was filled with bartenders eager to learn and get their hands wet behind the custom bars.

On Day 1, Sean Finter was welcomed back to the program by a large group of bar owners and managers.  During this seminar, Sean broke down the guest experience into touch points and set out a simple system for turning casual consumers into ardent fans, and managers into leaders.  Each year, Sean’s lecture continues to draws a larger crowd.

On Day 2, National Brand Ambassador Rachel Ford led the morning session that was geared toward servers and aimed to turn order takers to order makers.  Rachel shared her own experiences of good and bad service, and broke down how to be the best at your job.  Guests walked away from this session with a better understanding on how to direct customers to an enjoyable evening, while increasing their tips.

From Old Tom to London Dry, Tanqueray sets the standards for Gin. During the afternoon session on Day 2, Global Ambassador Emeritus Angus Winchester spoke about the three primary gin styles and their respective uses.  Angus used this session to not only educate bartenders on Gin, but to reinforce that hospitality is a significant part of the job.  Bartenders also had the opportunity to create their take on a modern classic cocktail, using books and unique bar tools from Angus’ personal collection.

Photo by Kelly Puleio

Photo by Kelly Puleio

After an extremely successful event in NYC last spring, Tanqueray brought back Hidetsugu Ueno to lead Day 3.  News spread fast and the event drew a record-breaking crowd of 84 bartenders. This session focused on the nature of Japanese bartending, and his techniques on stirring, shaking and pouring. Ueno San’s presentation was so compelling that you could hear a pin drop. The event ended with numerous laughs, a great question and answer round, as well as numerous pictures with the world-renowned bartender.

The Green Room will visit five additional markets, starting with Dallas later this month.

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Johnnie Walker: Keep Disrupting

Disrupt SF
These days when people hear “TechCrunch Disrupt,” they immediately think of the Startup Battlefield scenes from HBO’s Silicon Valley. The HBO version, though, is a parody — the headline speakers at the real Disrupt are not startups, they’re CEOs like Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, Tinder’s Sean Rad and Mark Cuban.

This year Johnnie Walker joined this formidable lineup of innovators by bringing its innovative whisky portfolio to Startup Alley. Disrupt marks the first stop on the Tier 2 House of Walker tour, which brings elements of the larger experiential tour into pre-existing consumer events. The House of Walker tour has been running since 2005 and offers consumers a multi-sensory cocktail and mentorship experience through the different variants of Johnnie Walker.

At Disrupt, MKTG INC produced a booth featuring a bespoke cocktail bar serving Johnnie Walker Red label, Black Label and Double Black cocktails to startups and investors looking to take a break from the craziness. Stephen Wilson, National Master of Whisky, took consumers through an in-depth tasting of Johnnie Walker Black and Double Black. Johnnie Walker partnered with 3D printer Makerbot to create a “Keep Walking” award, given to the startup that best encompassed Johnnie Walker’s pioneering and forward-thinking spirit.

Huan Ho and Dan Ellis of Rallyteam walked away with the “Keep Walking” award. Rallyteam is an employee empowerment platform that helps employees find interesting internal opportunities that fit their skill set. Ho and Ellis received a 3D printed Keep Walking award, an engraved Johnnie Walker Blue bottle, and a complimentary 20-person private Johnnie Walker tasting.

After three exhausting days of pitching and networking, entrepreneurs left Pier 48 one step closer to making their dream a reality.

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What’s In Your Wallet?

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). In our new column, we take a look at the business cards of our coworkers and hear the stories behind them. Here’s the story behind the business card of Nikhil Parsad, Art Director from MKTG’s San Francisco office.

Try. To. Focus.
You know how some people can’t look you in the eyes when they speak to you? Whether its a nervous reaction or they’re lying, I’ll never know. That’s how distracting the hair is. And the distraction continues to…erm…distract even on my business card because it quite literally says nothing about me professionally.

Yes, we know the hair blinds. Its sculptural, meringue-like peaks. Its cavalcade of rainbow tinctures.
I read somewhere that your hair is the outfit you wear every day and that it deserves more than just routine. Over the years, the hair has slowly become my brand, if you will. Its had its fair share of experiments; parts on the left, parts on the right, the middle (ugh), Faux hawks, Brohawks and my personal favorite, the “Fro Hawk”. Moral here is change is good, evolution is better.

Every tress strains to touch the heavens, like an army of pagan troll dolls worshipping the sun before battle.
Translation: I never have bad hair days.

Yes, that hair is a monument to acts of hirsute heroism.
I guess this is where my actual job comes in. Some people wear their stress on their face or body language, but I like to think the hair takes a brunt of that stress from my day to day. At least that’s what I tell people on days where I’m working on 6 different creative projects for 6 different clients.

Nevertheless: eyes right here, pal.
Moral of the story, don’t judge a designer by their hair.

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Written by Katie Kirby
Katie Kirby

September 30th, 2014 at 12:41 pm

MKTG Announces Annual Rewards Winners

Photo by Terry Warner

Photo by Terry Warner

The MKTG INC Rewards program is designed for employees to recognize and nominate fellow team members each quarter for their outstanding work at MKTG INC. At the end of the year, quarterly nominees become eligible to win an all-expenses paid International or Domestic Experience. In addition, our CEO Charlie Horsey recognizes the work of additional team members through the CEO’s Choice Awards.

Here are this year’s grand prize winners!

Domestic Winners:
Charlie DeCrescenzo
Terry Warner
Brandon Lee
Yensy Valdez

CEO’s Choice Domestic: Jen Robison and Emmett Aiello

International Winners:
Cassandra Ross
Joanna Solazzo

CEO’s Choice International: Elizabeth Santos

Congrats to all the winners and happy traveling!

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Getting Down to BizBash with David Adler

David_Adler.jpgFounded in 2000, BizBash is the leading trade media for the event industry. BizBash publishes magazines and e-newsletters, hosts websites, and produces trade shows and award shows for event professionals. In this two-part Q&A, we sat down with its founder and CEO, David Adler, to discuss tips, trends and his favorite events of 2014.

You are 100% engrossed in events. What attracted you to the business?
In the late ‘70s I started a society magazine called Washington Dossier in Washington, D.C. It was so fascinating to go to events with politicians, White House officials and Washingtonians who were more interested in events than they were in their day jobs. I learned that political organizers are really event organizers. They loved getting people in a room and using every trick in the book to persuade them to their point of view. It was the intersection of public relations and face-to-face events; I saw that people listen when they’re not distracted, and at events you’re forced to listen to the person standing face-to-face with you.

What do you think is the one essential element of every really great event?
Every event detail is designed to make people remember where they were, what they did, who they talked to, and what they gained. BizBash president Richard Aaron feels that all event organizers should be “memorologists,” creating moments that people actually remember.

One essential element for event organizers is to understand the neuroscience of events. They need to know what colors create an impact on the mind, how music changes the way we think, how scent affects how we feel. The science of events studies how the mind works and how people interact.

What to you are the most important objectives of any good event?
The goal is to get the right people to your event; getting to that point is harder than it looks. You need great audience generation, a reason for them to stay, and something that stimulates conversation and creates a shareable, indelible impression. In the old days, that was done through word-of-mouth conversations; today we have social media to help amplify our message.

Most events want to accomplish three basic things:

1. To sell things to others (ideas, products, or concepts)
2. To motivate people to sell things to desired audiences
3. To create networks of people who are motivated around a concept so the word can be spread

Even the most fun event has some sort of agenda. Understanding your agenda is now part of the strategy for event organizing and event marketing.

How has the industry changed in the last 10 years?
The most important thing is that the event industry is now really being taken seriously. I used to say that people in the event industry always had to sit at the children’s table. Now, 25% of marketing budgets are allocated for events—we are beginning to really understand the science of how people interact and the power of that interaction.

Really brilliant planners are studying everything from registration and ticketing, to the experience of being at an event, to the post-event ROI. Marketers are using innovations and activations to create conversations. People like Alex Pentland, who wrote the book Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread, are reinventing the power of interactions and conversations, as they have the power to change the world. It’s important to note that we are no longer hosting events for the people in the room, but rather for their social networks. Social media has been the ultimate game-changer.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into this business?
I’d say that understanding neuroscience is one of the key learnings to being an amazing event organizer. I call event organizers “programmers of human interaction;” having the skills of understanding human behavior and putting those practices into action for events. I find that people involved in their school and college activities naturally seem to gravitate towards events. They understand the importance of human interaction.

It’s also important to be a bit of an extrovert, being able to effortlessly talk to people. It’s a lost art, and the most impressive people are the impresarios who know how to connect people. Connectors are natural event organizers.

Another great attribute for somebody who wants to get into the business is to be an expert on the concept of “surprise and delight.” Understanding strategy and being able to be creative, as well as organized, is a very important skill.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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One Fan Bids Farewell to His Captain

Photo courtesy of nytimes.com

Photo courtesy of nytimes.com

When it comes to Derek Jeter, there is more to be admired than what you see on the surface. It’s not just the success, the money, the fame or even his enviable bachelor lifestyle that cause me to marvel.

Beneath all of that noise is that classic determination we’ve come to expect. What we’ve truly appreciated about him is his poise, his consistency, his dedication and his seemingly unbreakable focus. Fans don’t need you to beat your chest and proclaim dominance. If we’re to truly embrace you, we want you to put your head down, play hard and deliver. In doing so, Derek Jeter became the embodiment of what’s best about New York City.

Despite being highly scrutinized, he never expressed displeasure with the fans. He’s no nonsense, he shrugs in the face of pressure and he’s extremely reliable. He’s like a good neighbor…always there when you need him.  Joe Torre once said that even as a youngster, Derek had a certain look in his eye. Not one of conceit or arrogance, but one that said “I know I’m good and I don’t need to say a word to let people know I feel that way.” The result of that unflappable confidence is a laundry list of memorable moments in his two-decade career. From the classic “flip play” to his head first dive into the stands, the image of a pinstriped Jeter raising his arms in victory is burned into my memory.

Derek Jeter is the face of a generation. Specifically, my generation, and as one of millions of kids around the world (especially in New York), I can honestly say it’s the end of an era – one in which I’ve had more fun watching Jeter play than I’m brave enough to admit. I could go on for days about what the Jeter era has meant to me, my city, and even my grandmother – who lovingly referred to The Captain as “My Derek.” Yet, the only way to honor my boyhood idol is to say thank you. Oh, what a ride it’s been.

On behalf of fans everywhere: “Derek, we’d like to thank the Good Lord for making you a New York Yankee.”

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Written by Andrew Canlon
Andrew Canlon

September 29th, 2014 at 5:04 pm

NASCAR Speeds Into Downtown Chicago

Photo by Ben Roth

One of America’s greatest sport towns just found a new, higher-octane passion — NASCAR, when MKTG INC helped bring Chase Grid Live to downtown Chicago.

The two-day fan fest gave NASCAR the perfect chance to flex its muscle as the 16 top drivers prepare for the last 10 races in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Chase Grid Live featured stock-car displays, live broadcasts from ESPN and SiriusXM, sponsorship areas with partners like Toyota, Sprint and MARS, and, of course, some good old Chicago pizza and burgers provided by some of the city’s most popular food trucks. All the while DJ Johnny Walker kept the energy up as NASCAR footage looped on the giant SprintVision screen next to the stage.

Photo by Ben Roth

After battling a bit of rain on the first day, the clouds parted and the crowds appeared for a live concert from Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, presented by NASCAR’s sponsor, Toyota. It was the perfect opportunity for NASCAR to put their brand in front of a younger audience.

The second day was nonstop, with crowds showing up early to get autographs from NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace and see onstage interviews with up-and-coming NASCAR drivers. But the main event occurred as the 16 NASCAR Challengers pulled up to the event on the top of a double decker bus that had just paraded them down Michigan Avenue. Their Driver Nations went wild as they weaved through the crowd to board the stage. ESPN’s Jamie Little then hosted a Q&A with the drivers that caught them at their most personable and, frankly, comedic. There were lots of great insights into the upcoming races but the biggest crowd reaction probably came as Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and the other top five drivers began goading fellow driver, Brad Keselowski, about his upcoming wedding. It was one of those great moments that makes you feel like you’re watching a bunch of friends having fun instead of a dull and staid press event. Keselowski went on to win the race, so the teasing may have fueled his fire!

Photo by Ben Roth

All in all, it was an amazing event in the eyes of both the fans and NASCAR.

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MKTG INC Adds Staff to Chicago Office

Exciting news! Charlie Horsey, CEO of MKTG INC (which was acquired by Dentsu Aegis Network in August), announced today that the company has added key staff positions to our Chicago office.

Kevin Collins

Kevin Collins re-joined the Chicago office as General Manager. Kevin joined MKTG INC in 2005, and has played an integral role in the company’s expansion. He was part of the agency’s growth in New York from 2005-‘07, and opened new offices in Chicago (2007) and London (2012). Before joining MKTG INC, Kevin held marketing roles with Levi Strauss and ClearChannel.  Kevin graduated from St. Mary’s University, where he earned degrees in English literature and public administration. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Margot, and their daughter, Rockey, and newborn son, Dodge.


Also new to the Chicago team is Account Director Jessa Brinkmeyer, who previously oversaw marketing, PR, online content and design/technology at Uncommon. Prior to that, Jessa founded Pivot Boutique, Chicago’s first high-end eco fashion and lifestyle shop, where she was recognized for Chicago Magazine‘s Green Award and Fashion Group International’s Rising Star Award. Previously an associate editor at The Chicago Collection, Jessa holds a degree in journalism from Northwestern and lives in Chicago.

Finally, the agency added Cody Hawkins to its roster of sports all-stars. A 2010 recipient of Big 12 First Team Academic honors, Cody played quarterback for the University of Colorado Buffaloes for four years and later played football professionally overseas and in Canada. After several years of coaching – including a stint under Urban Meyer at Ohio State – he has hung up his cleats and joined MKTG INC as an Account Executive, working on sports and lifestyle brands including Nike and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

“From our recent acquisition by the Dentsu Aegis Network to these exciting new hires, this is a tremendous time for MKTG INC,” said Horsey. “We’re proud of the work we’ve done with marquee brands in sports and entertainment, including Nike, Beats by Dre, the NFL and NASCAR. Enhancing our expertise with these industry veterans continues to make our agency a key player in this space.”

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