The e4m Red Carpet Experiential Marketing Summit 2020 brought together top experiential marketing leaders under one virtual roof on Saturday. The conference did a mind mapping on the experiential economy and initiatives taken to stay afloat in this pandemic market.
Digital has become paramount during this pandemic and the role of technology will be amplified in the experiential ecosystem. The experiential marketing industry was severely hit due to the global pandemic and has a long way to recover but is doing so strategically.
In the first Keynote session of the virtual summit, Roshan Abbas, Managing Director, Encompass and President EEMA in conversation with Noor Fatima Warsia, Group Editor, A&M & BW Business World, shared intel on the topic ‘Experiential Marketing in The New World’.
Starting the discussion on how he has navigated the experiential industry amidst this pandemic, Abbas shared, “We were among the first to shut because we are in the business of hugs and handshakes, of bringing people together. Rightly, there was a need for the government to take stock and say that we need to keep social distancing. We all accepted this and said we needed to support humanity.”
According to Abbas for the first 3 months everyone put a complete stop on events. “The impact was that most of our businesses run on negative cash flow because you are sort of funding an event for someone in expectation to get paid in a certain amount of time. It pointed to everyone saying do you have anything in the bank to support your teams.”
He went on to say that when he took charge at EEMA in July he felt there were three things that needed to be done. “We needed to make the invisible, visible. This is a Rs 500,000 crore industry and we put figures together to prove this by the Government Interaction Committee and they put an action plan in place to prove these numbers. We made this point in media outlets. Secondly, we needed to tell the government about the impact that there are millions of people employed in this business and we needed to put those estimates together too. Simultaneously, we put a committee together called the COVID Task Force. If we needed to do events or ask for permission we had to tell them that we can do them rightly with the right protocols. We needed to make the effort ourselves and went out and put these points in front of multiple officials to the MHA in Delhi and so on. Finally, in lockdown 4 we got the 50-100 relaxation.”
Now with the festive season nearing, Abbas stated that there are new protocols to be set up.
Abbas says he is very proud that over 20 members of EEMA have created their virtual platforms with various levels of engagement. “The experiential industry is the first to come up with solutions and sometimes come up with them in a few hours so we are equipped with that trait.”
There are opportunities for the experiential industry amidst this pandemic. “Brand confidence also needs to come back because they need to believe that audience and consumer confidence is still there,” Abbas noted.
Speaking about the experiential industries future business model, Abbas said, “With the festive and wedding season, the industry will provide the much-needed energy and revenue into the business. But hybrid events are going to be the future and there will be a 30% increase in top-line once things come back to normal. The reason is that now when someone does a big conference or convention they will start treating the digital part almost as digital broadcast. So while I do that event in Bombay nothing will stop me from telecasting that event to my dealers and partners in other cities. Making it into a private group so that they can interact with each other.”
Talking about the Digital advantages in the industry, Abbas remarked, “Digital allows you the ability to track an audience. This brings an opportunity of measurability. We can create synergy in the digital world and that is why these digital live experiences are important. There has to also be a hybrid of digital live experiences.”
In his closing remarks Abbas spoke about how the industry will survive in the year ahead. “The first is that we all need is to be a supportive group for each other. We are realizing that a new business model will emerge from this which might be about linear teams and a lot more outsourcing. We are also telling the government that we need to give a bailout package. Lastly, we are an invisible industry today for the simple reason that we are in the Government of India not any one department’s responsibility but eight different departments and ministries talk of events. But we should be under the purview of one ministry so that we can drive policy and get things done.”
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