With an event as huge as the Olympics having to navigate around Covid, how different are things now?
No spectators, fake audiences, virtual tradeshows, and so on. Will these be part of a blip in time? Are things like these going to continue moving forward? Or will online options thrive in the future? What about audiences, have they changed? Have they adapted?
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Recorded on July 23, 2021
Brad Breininger: 0:00
Hi, everyone, and welcome to this week’s everything is brand. This week, we want to talk about how events have changed based on how the world has changed, we’re really lucky to work with the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Olympics are going on right now. They look very different than they have in the past. So let’s talk about how events have changed. The Olympics are going on right now. And they’ve gone back and forth in a whole bunch of different ways. But how it’s looking is very different than how it’s looked in the past. So there’s not spectators. They’re not really allowing people to to watch the games, but they’re still going on. But even when it comes to trade shows or in person training, or even job interviews, the world has really changed in how events are taking place. Do you think that there’s things that are going to continue on? Do you think that this is a blip in time? What are your thoughts?Marko Zonta: 0:59
This is an interesting time. And I think that there is a lot of testing going on in the sense that organizations are starting to – because they’re forced, really in some ways, – they’re starting to explore online events and things like that. But then at the same time, trying to reopen in person events and all that stuff. I think this is going to be a very interesting long term change in the sense that people will still want to have in person events, because it just feels different. When you’re there, whether it’s an event like a trade show, a concert, anything really, you have a very different experience. But what I think is happening at the same time is that what will stay is this online option for people who are perhaps a little bit less interested in joining, but they will join online, or they’re not able to travel or perhaps they’re due to budget frictions or whatever it may be. So I think that going forward, you’ll have in person events, and trade shows and things like that. But then you’ll also have the online component, how important that online component is, will depend on what we’re really talking about, and how quickly it’s put on and all that stuff versus in person. But I really think that they’re both here to stay, it will just depend on how they’re going to use to build following and attendance
Gabi Gomes: 2:20
I also think that humans will adapt, we have adapted since 2020, we as humans have gone with the flow, adapted, etc. So with respect to the Olympics, at the opening ceremonies, we had a fraction of the athletes we would have normally had in there, I heard it was a 10th of the athletes we would have normally had, due to all the restrictions around the sports and competition, etc. and their own wanting to limit themselves exposure to COVID, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I mean, these athletes have trained for years, they’re not going to jeopardize their performance for let’s say, an opening ceremonies or what not having said that there is no family in the stands, there’s nothing but I think the athletes themselves, as well as the communities as well as the COC as a nation altogether, we have adapted to that, right. We’ve got a group of divers taking a photo together and being shared as part of the opening ceremonies, right. They’re not there walking, however, they’re sharing those assets of them together, etc. Right? So there are other ways of uniting everybody together. It’s just that up until now, I don’t think that we’ve been as open to it. But I think as human beings going forward, I think we’re a lot more open minded to what that looks like.
Brad Breininger: 3:42
Yeah, and I think the the technology needs to be able to adapt and keep up as well. I think that we have some technologies in place right now that allow for some of that sharing, whether it’s social media, or whatever it might be. But I think that as this becomes more part of the total experience for these brands, whether it’s the Olympics, or whether it’s a training company, or whatever it will be, what will happen is that the way humans will evolve, so will the technology and the technology will allow for maybe being there virtually in a much more connected kind of way. Or it will allow for special rooms so that people who are joining online can coordinate through that means, but I think that that combination of the human evolution and the technology, evolution is what’s going to happen going forward.
Marko Zonta: 4:35
It’s really a new channel, it’s something that the technology wasn’t there or was too expensive or too difficult to manage to really provide that option to fans or people in general. But now I think that in the last year or so things have really changed and a lot of that became a lot more available. And I think that companies in general realize that that’s another possible channel. So they can access their followers or customers or whomever they’re speaking to. If you think back to, let’s say, 13-14 years ago, when the iPhone was introduced, if you think about how much technology changed, and that was a major change – the internet was there before, all of that was there before, but it’s really how it was used was very different. But then with introduction of that technology, all of a sudden, millions of apps were developed, that provide all kinds of access to people in terms of convenience information, all kinds of things. And I think that this is another milestone in the technological development, where all of a sudden companies that are developing in this area are providing new channels, new ways of communicating new ways of presenting information, new ways of providing access to live events, all of that, by introducing all that technology and all that access, I think it’s really providing this opportunity for companies and for brands to bring that and incorporate that into their overall strategy.
Brad Breininger: 6:03
I guess one of the questions that brands have to ask themselves, is there a loss of connection to the brand, because of the non human interaction access is improved, and people can participate? But is it the same kind of connection that they were getting to the brand before, is there going to be that loyalty and that ongoing experience that people are looking for, I mean, if you think of a band, for example, going and standing in a pit with a whole bunch of other people listening to a band, that is a unique experience, and it connects you not only the music, but the people in that band and the other fans, watching a virtual concert, where you’re just listening to it in the background as you’re emptying the dishwasher or doing other things is that a loss of brand connection that’s happening because of not being able to be there in person?
Marko Zonta: 6:57
Absolutely, the emotional connection to online channels is very, very different. Perfect example is, like you said, concert, you get a very different feel very different experience if you’re actually there, with everybody else who is just as excited standing right next to you versus participating in something that’s online, we see that in all kinds of award shows all kinds of things that are continuing to happen. But the way people consume that, and how invested they are in those events, is just not the same. And that’s why I’m saying going forward, those live events, in-person events will absolutely be critical. And they will continue to happen. The online is really just going to be almost like a backup plan for people who either don’t have as much access for whatever reason, were not able to travel whatever the reason may be, they will actually be able to participate on a reduced level, so to speak, but it will provide the brand with that option to really open it up to a wider audience, from that perspective.
Gabi Gomes: 8:03
I just want to point out the biggest backup plan being Netflix to movie theaters, right?
Brad Breininger: 8:09
But watching on Netflix is not the same as watching in a movie theater.
Christian Rosenthal | ZYNC: 8:13
I hear you all. But you also need to think that consumers have changed. And even though I’m dying to go to the movie theater, I don’t think that I’ll feel as comfortable as I did before. And eventually it’ll pass, but that’s going to take some time, right? In my opinion, I believe that we will still see an increase in hybrid events. So that’s not going to go away.
Brad Breininger: 8:45
From a brand perspective, Christian. I mean, I think you’re right, the fear of the health issues is always playing. I think that as long as that’s there, that will be an underlying factor. But again, once it goes away, if I just think about Netflix versus movie theater, one of the advantages of Netflix is that you can pause it and go to the bathroom if you need to, and you don’t feel like you’re missing anything so that I absolutely love. However, what I miss is that moment in a film where everyone laughs at a common joke, or the smell of the popcorn, or the walking in in the anticipation of watching the trailers, none of that – none of that is recreated in the Netflix experience. And that’s the connection part that I’m talking about is that’s true of so many different things. Even trade shows as dull and boring as trade shows often are and what people complain about, going there and meeting a bunch of people that you’ll only see a couple times a year and going out for a beer after walking around a room where you got all these little tchotchkes all day and your bag is filled with all these things that you have to find a place for in your suitcase. There’s a whole brand experience that happens in that series of events that just doesn’t happen when you log into a zoom call to listen to a keynote speaker, I don’t know about you. But so often, anytime I’ve been listening to a speaker online now I just tune out after the first few minutes, not that I don’t do that in person sometimes, but it’s a lot quicker on zoom.
Gabi Gomes: 10:17
Okay, but you can’t expect what we’ve experienced in the last two years to compare to what the industry has done for centuries. Concerts have been perfected and continued to evolve. This whole online experience is really just at its infancy at this point, we have to think that, like Marko was said it will exist in conjunction with live, in conjunction with other forms of media, whatever, but it’s one of – it’s on a scale, right? And do you want the premium package, do you want the whatever package or the basic package and basic package would be just listening to your music on some streaming service, maybe the middle one is some virtual thing. And maybe the other one is a live event, whatever that middle area, or this hybrid hasn’t fully been perfected, and whatnot, it’ll continue to evolve.
Marko Zonta: 11:12
Yeah, the other thing that the online channel provides is the ability I guess, for brands to target very specific audiences, or put on very targeted events, smaller events, events that happen more often, depending on what their strategy is, overall, or even follow up events, they may actually have a big conference or something like that. And they may actually have online, a webinar or something leading up to it. So I think that it will really be using both at the same time, just for different purposes. And again, it’s more that one is that more practical approach to online and the other one is a lot more emotional, right? To your point earlier, being there in person, you are a lot more emotionally connected with that brand than you are online. So it’s really the practical versus the emotional, right? And combining those two,
Brad Breininger: 12:07
I just hope we’re not moving to the matrix where we’re all in our little pods at home in our little liquid stabilizers. And we’re just living in this little matrix that’s completely online. And maybe that movie was more prophetic than we actually realized at the time?
Gabi Gomes: 12:26
I don’t think so. But I do think that it’s going to be consumer-led, I don’t think it’ll be brand-led, consumers will really dictate because of all of the health concerns. I think that there’s varying degrees of comfort levels on things. And as such, there’s going to be varying degrees of offerings, I think the public will dictate what they will and won’t, and eventually the dollars will follow. Because if bands aren’t getting that money, they’re going to find other avenues to get that money.
Brad Breininger: 12:53
Right? That’s true. However, I would ask the question, are we losing something? It may be more convenient, and consumers may decide that they want to be online. But is there something that’s going to be missing-is a concert, is a sports event, is a I don’t know training, are those things going to change the way sports is played, it’s been like a shared experience in a stadium. That’s how it’s been up until now. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s how it has to be going into the future. It’s funny because I look at even TV shows that are doing really well right now on television, like American Ninja Warrior, or wipe out where it’s just these courses where there’s no observers whatsoever, there’s just the contestants and the course and people do it, and people just watch and they tune in, and they’re just looking for an outcome. Is sports going to move more in that direction? So maybe it’s not just how we interact with these events, but maybe it’s the events themselves that are going to change and adapt and evolve based on how we’re interacting with them.
Marko Zonta: 14:04
But we also go through trends, if I can call them that, even when it comes to entertainment, especially TV shows and reality shows and all that stuff. One show becomes popular, and let’s say that it doesn’t have any audience participation, then you’re going to have a bunch of copies of that show that will pop up. I think that it’s going to be interesting to see that from the entertainment perspective, that when it comes to the way people interact, we are social beings, that’s obviously not going to go away. People want to interact with other people. People want to be energized, they want to get out of their house. That’s really what unites us, right? So the online experience is not the same.
Brad Breininger: 14:43
Well, that’s what we have been, but is that what we’re going to be going into the future? Even just looking at the way dating happens now, before, meet someone, maybe get together, have a drink, then have some dinner, then maybe go to a movie or a club or something like that. And then maybe spend time together after that. Now it’s okay, let’s get rid of all of that, let’s create an app where you just go online, you find someone and you just get right down to business, right then and there. And so I agree with you, I think that we are social beings, but is our whole social structure changing based on the technology and based on all of the elements that are driving this into these new areas of understanding and areas of being in the world,
Marko Zonta: 15:29
That’s a really interesting example and to use that, that whole dating app example and expanding on that, but people are still going to bars, people are still going to restaurants, people are still going to parks. And just because the app is there, the app has basically changed the conversation a little bit in how it actually happens. But people are still out there socializing, people are still out there spending money, people are still out there going through that experience, just in a slightly different way.
Brad Breininger: 15:58
But I would say in a very different way, just looking at it like the event of going to a bar. Being in the dating pool right now, the one thing I’ll say is that it’s been on hold for a little while. But it used to be that if you went to a bar, that it was really an opportunity to go and meet someone potentially. Now, basically, pre pandemic, what was happening in bars in my observation was that it was just groups of friends that went there to be friendly with each other and hang out with their friends. But it wasn’t necessarily to date. So I think that there was a definite shift in what actually happened in those bars. I think you’re right, MarKo, I think that we still want to be social, we still want to get out of our houses. But the event of what going to a bar was is quite different than last time I was in the dating pool, compared to now being in the dating pool and seeing what’s going on now. So what happens is that it does evolve. And technology is an integral part of how it evolves.
Marko Zonta: 17:00
And connecting that back to the business world – trade shows and all that stuff. It changes in the sense that now there is the online part is the dating app, so to speak, you’re building that relationship and those connections, maybe even before the trade show, or after the trade show, whatever it may be. People want to stay connected, on some level. It’s not just you go to the trade show, find your date, you find your company, your supplier, whomever – now you’re really there to observe to experience the whole thing. But you actually want to build a connection online through different channels. Right. So whether that’s an app in some cases, or through the sales team online, or whatever that experience may be.
Brad Breininger: 17:42
Yeah, well, there’s some people that would argue that trade shows are the original hookup apps. So I guess it’s all in how you look at. The really important thing here is that this combination of human social requirement and technology are the two things that are going to drive events, whether it’s consumer based, like you said Gabi, or whether it’s brands and organizations themselves determining what they think their customers want. But really what it’s going to come down to is, first of all, how comfortable are we going to be with the whole health issue? Because Christian to your point, until that alleviates, there’s still going to be huge groups of people that don’t feel comfortable, especially getting together indoors. That’s going to evolve over time. Really, those two things, the human need for social interaction, and the ability of technology to rise up and fill any gaps are going to be the two elements that drive this more than anything. I do think though, in talking to people about the Olympics, and understanding all the changes and how they look to us, I think some people are pining for the way it used to be, there’s still that want and that need for humans to want that connection. Watching the athletes walk in, watching all the different flags, seeing the music swell, watching a medal being put around someone’s neck, there’s a whole emotional aspect to it. And yes, we can still have the sports and yes, we can still have the outcomes. And yes, people can still win the medals as they should, because these athletes have been training their whole lives for this moment. So that still does need to happen. But I think that as the health issues get alleviated, if they do, there’s going to be this need for the ongoing connection. Yes, technology will be there to back it up. And there will be that option for everything going forward. But I’m hoping that as human beings, we will get to be able to get together in a stadium again, or get together at a concert or get together even at a trade show and have that opportunity to continue – completely understanding that there’s still going to be this technological backup, but I hope everything doesn’t revert to zoom because that would be kind of sad. So that’s this week’s version of everything is brand, next week we’ll talk about a new topic and a new opinion on things. Join us then and remember, everything is brand.