Archive for 2014

TopSpin & MKTG Raise Over $400K for Youth Charities

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TopSpin 2014

MKTG INC and TopSpin, a national philanthropic group dedicated to empowering America’s youth through education, brought together members of the sports, media and entertainment industries on Wednesday, December 10th for the sixth annual TopSpin charity table tennis tournament at Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City.

Dozens of celebrities, including current and former athletes including John Starks, John Wallace and Zab Judah, supported #TopSpin2014, which is produced pro-bono each year through our MKTG4GOOD initiative. In addition to world-class table tennis, the event featured three DJ’s, 15 food stations, top shelf bars, a silent auction and much more.

Proceeds benefit youth and education-focused programs in the New York metropolitan area. This year the money raised went to Horizons – BFS, A Better Chance, Wishbone, New Heights and Prep for Prep. With over 1,250 in attendance, the event raised $400k for these valuable programs.

For more information, visit www.topspincharity.com.

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“I Am the Queen of Chicago”

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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 in 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 it,” 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 as 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

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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 big corporations such as Wal-Mart handle their supply chain management, the way retail stores prevent shoplifting, and the way experiential marketers make use of their spaces. Here are a few ways events are utilizing RFID technology to improve experiences:

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 close to one another, the other person’s Facebook info would be shared via email. Every day that 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 instead provided each attendee with an RFID card. The guests could load money on the card and use it 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.

C2MTL:
C2MTL, the Commerce and Creativity conference in Montreal, used UHF 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 UHF-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 popular 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 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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Gatorade: The Unreal Final Journey Around the World

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Barca_CoverPhoto credit: Luiza Iacava

*Note: the use of the word “football is used throughout this post, in reference to what Americans call “soccer,” and we are sticking to the global term since well … you see the title, don’t you?

As you may remember, on May 26 and May 31 at Emirates Stadium in London and Sinatra Park in Hoboken, NJ, respectively, MKTG INC gave an unreal experience to 240 local athletes (http://blg.mktg.com/2014/05/the-real-work-of-gatorade/) to build excitement around the UAW online contest.

The winners were finally announced in June, and we took them on the football trip of a lifetime. Our fabulous winners represented the United States, Canada, England and Brazil. As we got to know them and their guests over our 17-day trip, we all became a second family.

And now … the details!

Bradenton, Florida – Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) at IMG Academy (July 28 – 30)

GSSI_01Photo credit: Mariusz Kaczmarek

The boys received full fitness testing, including physical and psychological, with the experts at GSSI. A full report was given to them on their last day, along with the recommended Gatorade formula for them to use moving forward while sweating on the pitch. Of course, all that hard work had to be rewarded, so we had a special guest come and work out with our winners on the last day – none other than USMNT player Graham Zusi!

GSSI_02Photo credit: Eric Nalpas

Graham competed with the boys in a “crossbar challenge” to finish off the session. Our Canadian representative won, and got to keep Graham’s boots!

Liverpool, England – Liverpool FC (July 30 – August 1)

Jetlag be damned! After about a day’s rest, the boys suited up and made it over to Anfield for a full tour of the stadium, taking in some facts about Liverpool FC’s history and hearing insider stories from LFC legend Jason McAteer.

After a quick lunch, we scooted over to Melwood, the official training ground of Liverpool. The Junior U16 coaches ran a highly individualized training session for our winners, with specific instruction on spatial awareness on the pitch. Let me say that again, we were at Liverpool! Training with the pros! You could almost hear the opening chords of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” ….

Liverpool_02Photo credit: Mark Waugh

London, England – Arsenal FC (August 2 – 4)

The express train from Liverpool was smooth and luxurious (well, compared to the LIRR), and two hours later we were in London, heading straight for Emirates Stadium. The Emirates Cup was going on during our visit and the boys had VIP treatment with a tour of the facility and then access to a luxury suite to watch the matches. But don’t be fooled … London was not all relaxation.

The next morning we woke up to beautiful sunny skies and about 75° F (24° C) temperatures – the perfect morning for a football workout at Battersea Park! The Community Coaches from Arsenal met us and ran the session, focusing on overall fitness and one-on-one drills. We even got our client to join in on the workout, although as a former NFL wide receiver, he gave our winners no shot at the final sprint challenge.

London_01Photo credit: Felippe Imperatriz

Barcelona, Spain – FC Barcelona (August 4 – 5)

Barcelona was the favorite club among most of our winners, and you can imagine the excitement they felt as we pulled up to Camp On. The boys had the opportunity to train at La Masia with the Barcelona Youth Coach. Fully kitted up in their training attire, the winners were instructed in drills that were team-based with passing and moving as the center of the activity.

Barcelona_02Photo credit: Luiza Iacava

Milan, Italy – AC Milan (August 5 – 7)

At AC Milan’s training facility, better known as Milanello, we were welcomed with open arms. As soon as we walked in, we were offered an array of Gatorade beverages, biscuits and, of course, espresso.

After a full tour of the grounds and workout facilities, we were served lunch and then bid the boys off to do another set of fitness testing. Different from GSSI, these tests focused on reaction time, plyometrics and balance.

What better way to prepare for a 17-hour flight…

Buenos Aires, Argentina – Boca Juniors (August 8 – 9)

Our last day in Buenos Aires had us training with the Boca Juniors B-Team coach. It was a fantastic session; the boys had the freedom to play some small-sided games against each other with some of the guests joining in.

BA_02Photo credit: Federico Peretti

Rio de Janeiro – Brasil (August 9 – 12)

The final send-off! We had to show these boys we know how to celebrate football!

The first day took us to Maracanã for a Flamengo match, which was high-intensity the whole way through. The crowd and the chants did not stop.Finally, the next day we were off to Granja Comary, the home of CBF.

Rio_03_MarPhoto Credit: Derek Mangabeira

Our friends in Brazil had a surprise in store for us; they brought in a local Nike academy to have a full-sided match! This is the first time we had the opportunity to play 11 v 11 on the pitch; a real treat, especially since we were again able to involve our guests.

Rio_05_MatchPhoto Credit: Derek Mangabeira

On our last day, we wanted to show the boys local beach culture. Gatorade provided their local experts in the sport of futevôlei, and they ran through a full workout and tutorial. The winners picked it up immediately, and practically owned Copacabana Beach…well, their attitudes said they did anyway ;-)

Overall, it was such an honor to work with Gatorade on such a special project, and communicate the message of putting in real work for an unreal performance. Thanks to everyone who made this program such a success, from the Gatorade clients to the contest champions to all the MKTGers around the globe! Just a reminder to #makeitunreal every day, no matter what you do.

RIo_Final_JumpPhoto credit: Derek Mangabeira

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Cincy goes loco for fútbol

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Cinti_WorldCupGang

The Cincinnati MKTG INC office invited an especially lucky group of clients to catch the Colombia-Japan World Cup matchup at the downtown office on June 24.

“As Colombians we grow up living soccer and loving soccer. It’s part of our family, part of our childhood, so to see Colombia do so well in this World Cup and qualify in the first two games brings a lot of pride,” said Colombian native Luis Restrepo, Orgullosa Brand Manager at P&G. “It also means that there is an amazing party somewhere in Colombia.”

With help from her compadres y comadres, Orgullosa Account Supervisor Natalia Salces organized the Cincinnati event, which featured a photo booth, foosball table, Caipirinha drinks, arepas, and, of course, televised viewing of the game (because we couldn’t afford to send everyone to Rio).

Cinti_WorldCupParty

The fiesta drew inspiration from the #MyHouseIsMyStadium campaign for Orgullosa, P&G’s online word-of-mouth community for Latinas living in the U.S. Except in this case the office was our stadium.

Approximately one-half of all attendees were rooting for “those guys in the yellow jerseys” to win. The other half showed up for the refreshments.

Colombia bested Japan 4-1 and advanced to the round of 16. Restrepo used that good luck to propel him in his own foosball victory over Todd Laabs, SVP Marketing & Operations for MKTG INC. Laabs mumbled something about “a couple of sloppy goals” and vowed redemption in the form of ping pong.

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NIKE RISK EVERYTHING – WINNER STAYS

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IMG_6241

It’s that special time in the sports world that only arrives every 4 years, when Americans realize that the beautiful game is back and ready to fill their Summer sports malaise, where the only other news of note is the exciting stretch run of only 92 games to go in the baseball season.

To capitalize on the energy around the World Cup and the world’s most popular sport (deal with it, America), Nike launched the latest in a series of innovative soccer-based campaigns with RISK EVERYTHING: a challenge to all footballers to take chances and play with a creativity that takes the game to its highest and most entertaining level (deal with it, Spain).

To harness and amplify that creativity, NIKE developed a 4 v 4 tournament unlike any other: Winner Stays. With a unique set of rules and a winner stays on mentality that throws brackets to the curb, Nike and MKTG INC set out to the crown the best in NYC amidst concrete arenas in the heart of the city.

Nike Risk Everything              Pearl St. Plaza – Brooklyn Qualifier                                            Pier 26 – Manhattan Qualifier

Over 680 players and 120 teams battled it out at the Brooklyn and Manhattan Qualifiers for a chance to advance to the Finals. Set against iconic, unexpected locations in the two boroughs, the events drove home the city-based inspiration with locally relevant artists and food trucks. With 5 teams from each Qualifier moving on to the Finals, it was time to prepare for a championship setting unlike any other.

IMG_8162

With the flight deck of the USS Intrepid playing host to the Finals and conjuring up memories of one of the best NIKE Soccer campaigns of all time, the Risk Everything mantra reached a fever pitch (pun intended), as players battled it out in front of 1,100 fans. The NY Finals were held first, as the top 10 teams from the qualifiers fought to be crowned the NY Champion. After The Wild emerged victorious, it was time to take on the LA champion (who had been flown in for the evening) to be crowned the best in the USA. As a precursor to the Stanley Cup Finals, LA (got lucky and) took home the victory. Finally, a trophy celebration amidst a 3-minute firework show that would wow even the boldest of pyros brought the Winner Stays tournament to a close.

Nike’s campaign for creativity and boldness keeps rolling as the World Cup kicks into high gear, and with the Group Stage on pace to provide the highest scoring tournament of all time, it seems like the world has heard the message.*

*Unless you’re from Spain. 

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US Open 2014: Domination, Evolution and a Bigger Banana

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martin_kaymer_champion_usatsiPhoto Credit: cbssports.com

The US Open was already rewriting the history books after Friday’s play. No one had ever posted a 65-65 on the first two days. This record was set by Martin Kaymer, who held the lead from start-to-finish, yet another feat, which only seven players had accomplished in US Open history. The win was doubly memorable for Kaymer, who also won the Players Championship to complete the bout of winning on both Mother’s and Father’s day. When asked how he felt about winning during the holidays, Kaymer noted,

“It was nice to win on Mother’s Day and our Father’s Day [in Germany] was a couple of weeks ago and I didn’t get him anything,” said Kaymer after a gargantuan eight-shot victory at Pinehurst on Sunday. “Maybe this works today.”

Yet another milestone to note, this time for the course, was Pinehurst’s first US Open back in its old form. Originally designed by famed architect Donald Ross in 1907, Pinehurst had seen a forward evolution through the years. As seen in the 2005 US Open, the fairways had become tight, the Kentucky bluegrass roughs were among the most formidable of any tour stop, and the bunkers were clean cut-outs, but quite scary, even for the most regarded professionals.

Back in 2010, the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw were brought in to bring #2 back to its original lore. Their goal for the renovation was to bring the course back to Donald Ross’ original intent for his home course, epitomizing the philosophy of providing golfers “strategic choices” on every hole. They increased fairway widths, removed that bluegrass rough (approximately 35 acres, leaving native areas made up of sane, pine needs and wiry grass), simplified turf maintenance leading to firmer, faster fairways, and what was probably the most noticeable, reformed bunkers to make them more natural. All work was done following aerial images from the 1940s.

The “strategic choice” philosophy that Donald Ross aimed at providing golfers as personified by the shot of the weekend, Kenny Perry’s bender on the par-four 14th, a 479-yard hole. Perry, 53, and the oldest player in the field, had an errant drive that ended up in the native area that was part of the refresh in 2010. After pulling a hybrid from his bag, and peering around the trees at the pin that was 220 yards away, he proceeded to record the first eagle of the week on 14, with a shot that would rival the famous banana that Bubba had during his Master win in 2012. While Parry didn’t win, his shot immediately became the best of the weekend.

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All things considered, this year’s US Open was one for the storybooks. Next year’s US Open will be held at yet another throwback, the Robert Trent Jones II designed Chamber’s Bay Golf Course in University Place, Washington. Much akin to Pinehurst from a standpoint of keeping native features alive, Chamber’s Bay is a links course that also tests the “strategic choice” philosophy. And with a hole named “Humpback,” you never know: another big bender could happen anytime.

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The “Real Work” of Gatorade

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W3S_5618

This year, Gatorade has been challenging the young football athletes of the globe to show us their real work through an online contest called “Unreal Around the World,” in which athletes upload a video of themselves putting in the real work necessary to give a great performance on the pitch. The athletes behind the top five winning videos will win a trip around the world with stops at the top football meccas of the world, such as the Gatorade Sports Science Institute in Bradenton, Florida,  London, Liverpool, AC Milan, FC Barcelona, Boca Juniors in Buenos Aires, Argentina), and Rio de Janeiro. To support the contest, MKTG INC is giving a taste of an unreal experience to a few elite footballers in London and New York.

On 26 May 2014, at the esteemed Emirates Stadium, 120 local athletes from academies were invited to take part in a competition that was like no other. Wearing technology that measured their biometric output, the teams were sent out to a divided pitch and started with rotations of small-sided games. Members of the Arsenal tech staff were on the sidelines providing their own assessments via an iPad scoring system. Athletes were awarded extra points for creativity and athletic ability.

Based on their scores from the wearable technology and the iPad scoring system, the top 12 overall players and the top 3 keepers were identified and highlighted in a final challenge of football drills. Drills were measured by time, creativity and accuracy.

The emotion of these athletes was intense; never before have they scored a goal to see a reaction of pyrotechnics, smoke and streamers, all in Emirates Stadium. One of the Arsenal legends, Martin Keown, made an appearance and awarded the top athletes with some words of wisdom and a congratulatory message.

Unreal Around the World will visit the New York area on May 30 at Sinatra Park in Hoboken, NJ.

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Keep Sailing With Johnnie Walker

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JW

After completing successful tours in Asia and Europe, the John Walker & Sons Voyager tour embarked on its third leg heading to the Caribbean. MKTG INC was brought on to make sure this tour was just as successful as the previous two.

Diageo was on a hunt to find a brand new yacht suitable for the tour.  Our very own Matt Manning, Derek Cummings and John Demas led the search and ultimately went the secret agent route and chose the Regina, which was prominently featured in the recent James Bond film “Skyfall” (as seen in this entire clip http://bit.ly/1f66sjN).

While John was busy beautifully redesigning the yacht, Derek worked on coordinating a routing schedule and managing port logistics at each tour stop with help from industry experts Brazil Yacht Services.

I was lucky enough to be on-board and truly live the Voyager experience for over 2 months. I made some lifelong friends, saw some amazing places (Antigua, Trinidad, Aruba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Colombia) and worked with some wonderful people along the way. Not to mention I completely dodged a little thing called the Polar Vortex.

JW6

Living the Voyager experience meant not taking any short cuts. Sailing from port-to-port may have been the most unique thing about the entire tour for me. There were a few times where being out on the deck on the open seas meant complete relaxation and escape from every other human being on the planet. Miles and miles of blue water is all I’d see. No cell phone, no internet, no distractions. On the other hand our trips (ranged from 16hrs to 60hrs) were mostly filled with high waves, deep boat rolls and some pretty intense boat movement (getting tossed out of bed or soaked on the deck became pretty common place). I don’t think I’ll be quitting my day job for a life at sea any time soon.

Full event production mode started the moment we docked. We activated 2-4 event days in each market with about 3 events each day. Daily challenges, issues and changes in addition to the slew of people who would constantly come by the boat for tours kept things really interesting along the way. Escaping the madness was a tad bit difficult considering we were living at the venue, but thankfully everything worked itself out leaving guests with unforgettable experiences ranging from rough wave sailing trips to black tie dinners to high energy dance parties on-board.

For more John Walker & Sons Voyager Photos: http://jwsvoyager.com/gallery/
Trinidad Event Video: http://vimeo.com/88886683
Aruba Event Video: http://vimeo.com/87215386
Dominican Republic Event Video: http://vimeo.com/89409955
Colombia Video: http://vimeo.com/90054934

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Written by Admin
Admin

April 30th, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Mad Men, The Final Season. Sort of.

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Photo courtesy of Mashable.com

Photo courtesy of Mashable.com

It’s the beginning of the end for our favorite men on Madison Avenue, and I applaud AMC for giving us a gentle ride out for the series.  The first half will air these next 7 weeks, and we will get the final send-off in 2015.  I have grown fond of the 7-12 episode story arch; it gives me just enough entertainment without getting to the eye roll stage of using filler material.  Remember those flashback episodes that were popular on 80’s sitcoms?

Each episode moves the story along, and gives us the opportunity to savor Mad Men as a whole.  Now that we live in the days of binge watching, I make a proposal that we try to slow things down, enjoy and reflect.  Instead of racing to hit play on the next one, pause and think: “Is Roger going to hit Woodstock this year with his new hippie friends?”  “If I existed in 1969, would I smoke?  Live in the city?  Protest the Vietnam War?”

When an episode ends, I snap out of my time travel trance and look around.  Slightly disappointed that is it 2014, but I like to keep that 1969 feeling as long as I can and do some old school chores.  Usually some ironing, since hey, it is Sunday night after all.

Take your time, enjoy the warmer weather, and enjoy these last few episodes.  I look forward to chatting with you around the office bar, but only once a week.

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Written by Stephanie Rudnick
Stephanie Rudnick

April 21st, 2014 at 9:47 am