VEGAS, NY, BALL PITS & 3 THINGS I LEARNED | WEEKLY D #005 | 14.05.17
I really wanted to make this edition of the Weekly D into a visual log, but against all odds the mic on the camera I used died which sucks! I caught loads of really cool footage and spoke a lot about what we’ve been up to recently at What Marketing Company in terms of recent campaigns, why I’m in the States and what we’ve got coming up. Firstly, I think it’s super important now we get a proper camera with a mic on it so we can start to do video logs for when any of us work on really interesting projects!
My week actually started I guess last Friday evening when I flew out to Berlin to meet a new client out there. They’re a musician-cum-CEO of a tech company. The company produces hardware and the respective software to link up with it that enhances a musician’s performance through developing electronic and synth additions. This guy and his entourage/co-founders get to perform worldwide and invited us to join them on their journey to Las Vegas where they were performing at the Dell EMC World Conference.
This Dell EMC World Conference is probably the largest gathering of nerds in the western world. Over 13,000 attendees all psyched up about the cloud, new software and anything computer. Saying that though… it was really cool to be a part of this conference where tickets to attend go from as little as $2,700 (excluding hotel and travel!). The reason being that there was so much insight to what the future basically holds for everyone.
I stayed at the Palazzo Hotel. I was booked into a suite on the 43rd floor. The suite itself was probably bigger than my apartment in Manchester. I was expecting just a room with a bed but this hand a King-Size bed, an L-shaped sofa, desk, 3 LG TV’s and then double doors opening onto a bathroom bigger than the co-working space we work out of in Salford.
This was my second time in Las Vegas this year, I came a couple months ago for a much need holiday with friends which was awesome so it was strange being back in a place for work I had only really known before for partying and having fun in. It’s a really strange place… the actual city of Las Vegas is really only defined by a street (Las Vegas Blvd) and all the hotel and casinos that line it for 3 miles. It’s a strange juxtaposition that somewhere that carries so much wealth and value is really only self-contained within the 3 miles of the strip, outside of the strip (mainly east/west of) the house price plummets and the price of food and beverages returns to normal very quickly. When you fly in/out of Las Vegas is like an oasis that emerges out of the desert. You start to see all of these high-rise hotel that stick out like thorns on the horizon.
THREE THINGS I LEARNED THIS WEEK:
1. VR IS DEFINITELY THE FUTURE
I know I’ve said it before… but I’m saying it again with extra cement. VR is where technology is going with it so is marketing, commerce and probably experiences too. I would say that of the 500 stalls at this event 70% of them featured experiences where you could throw on a VR headset and immerse yourself within the company’s product/offering – the best example is online data storage in the cloud… there’s a company where you can literally put on a headset and step into your company’s data storage archive, walk around rooms with filing cabinets in them and pull out data. AN ACTUAL, VIRTUAL DIGITAL ARCHIVE where you can walk around. It reminded me wholly of that scene from the first Matrix film where before they dive into the Matrix they go into like purgatory and stock up on weapons and ammo. It’s next level and really interesting to see how many applications VR can be cross-utilized for.
2. GWEN STEFANI AND NERDS DON’T MIX WELL
The final night of the conference was the night most people had been looking forward too, hosted in Hall A of the Palazzo-Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas (which is more like a small town itself) was a purpose built stage and venue ready to fit 4,000 attendees. Gwen Stefani was billed as the headline act – which was weird initially anyway because I can really only see one reason why the audience of the Dell EMC Conference would watch Gwen Stefani for an hour and a half. To be totally honest I think Gwen didn’t get it either… the first thing she did was address how much of an awkward billing it was but fair play to her she did an awesome show and for the rest of my time here I’ve had B-A-N-A-N-A-S playing repeat in my head.
3. THE SMALLEST ACTS OF INTENT OF KINDNESS CAN SPIN VIRALITY ON A GLOBAL SCALE
So rewinding back two days before I departed for Berlin and the US, we hosted a little stunt in our office that gained viral status on a global level in a social media sense as well as gaining traction with press as far abroad as China. What we did was simple… but I wanted to go into a bit more of a profound detail about how this came about…
It all began the week before last when MD of Invasion Camp Group introduced Chris and I too a chap called Andrew. Andrew owns a truck that contains roughly 2,000,000 plastic balls, a pen to put them, a hose to distribute them and that’s probably about it. His business is Ball Mania and it’s renowned for being the World’s Largest Adult Ball Pit. He had it up at Printworks the week before and it had been incredibly successful. Lee wanted him to meet Chris and I to discuss doing a Live Stream to help him boost the awareness. We disagreed and told them the best way to achieve brand awareness for this is pull off a cool stunt, film it then sell it into social media pages and PR outlets – which is what we ended up doing.
Chris and I suggested utilising the Invasion Hub co-working space in Salford for the stunt – The plan was to fill the entire office space with as many balls as physically possible then not tell any of the staff and film their reactions when they arrived in the morning. Simple, right?!
We’d agreed with Andrew to meet at 3am on the morning of the stunt at the offices. Chris, Ben, Ross and I met Andrew at the office that early on the Wednesday and between the six of us began unloading his truck (check here to see a little behind the scenes). It took about 3.5 hours to unload 125,000 plastic balls into the office. By the time 6:30am came around we were done – the office had been converted and we treated ourselves to a McDonalds breakfast and then waited for staff to begin rocking up at 9am.
Once staff began turning up, Caspa started capturing their reactions whilst other decided to hide in the ball pit now amassing the offices surface. By about 11am all the office had turned up so Chris and Caspa began to edit the film and by the late-afternoon we had published it to The Uni Bible and it started gaining traction (100k views). We then contacted our PR outlets and sold them the story, provided them with the footage and let them do the rest. At the time of writing, this little stunt has now been viewed on social media over 20,000,000 times across Facebook pages with main audiences in the UK, Brazil, China and Europe such as The Lad Bible, Bored Panda and The Hook as well as having been featured in news outlets such as The Sun, Daily Mirror, the MEN, Mail on Sunday, Independent and the Guardian.
We didn’t charge Andrew anything for this, vice-versa he didn’t charge us coming and installing the ball pit into the offices. We did this because we genuinely thought it would be a cool thing to do for Andrew and for all the people we share an office with each day. I think it’s an understatement to say that we were all flat-out exhausted by the end of it but for all of mine and Chris’ team who worked super hard I know we were very proud with the outcome for both Andrew and the guys in the office.
After wrapping up in Las Vegas, we had the longest flight ever over to New York. The flight left McCarran airport at 23:35 – it takes only four hours to fly to NYC but because of the time difference we landed at 7:20am off the back of a night with relatively no sleep on a cold United Airlines flight.
Our first stop was to get some coffee – the climate in NYC is a bit different to that of Las Vegas. I’d booked to stay at an Air BnB in Brooklyn ($60-80 per night). I’ve only ever stayed in Manhattan before so I wanted to experience somewhere a bit different and I keep being told that Brooklyn (or parts of it) and like the Chorlton/Shoreditch area of town. Parts of Brooklyn pretty much are hipster central. Lots of people walking around with round-framed sunglasses, ankle-swinging trousers and carrying polystyrene coffee cups.
Other parts are obviously totally different, I later went for drinks and dinner with a couple friends who noted all the streets to avoid visiting unless I wanted to lose all my possessions. I guess that there are neighbourhoods and streets like that in every city though, from Manchester to London to Brooklyn. I’ve also learned to take that sort of advice with a pinch of salt though since reputations can often stem from one event causing a lot of anxiety and fear amongst a community. Additionally, I’m speaking as someone who has been mugged and stabbed less than a kilometre away from my front door in a relatively crime-free neighbourhood in comparison to Brooklyn – so you can’t really always go by the statistics.
I was really keen to go out and get some awesome footage of Manhattan on the Saturday but to my dismay I awoke to a torrential storm with rain hammering down NY all-day with no signs of stopping. I got out and headed into the city anyway hopeful the downpour might cease. I jumped on the M-train from Brooklyn into Manhattan and got off at 34th Street. If you know NY this is where Macy’s, Madison Square Garden and the Empire State Building is. Gutted for anybody that went up the ESB on the Saturday because the cloud covered pretty much the top ¼ of the building. Rain persisted to hammer down on the city so I didn’t get any footage the whole day and instead went and bought some gifts for the guys back in the office that I hope they’ll like… Photo pending I’m sure.
Frustratingly, when I woke on the Sunday the weather was ideal. Sunny with blue skies. My flight however meant I had to be at the airport for 3pm. With that in mind I exited the AirBnB and headed down to Jay Street by Brooklyn Bridge and got a few cool shots of Manhattan from across the water, had brunch and did caught up with some e-mails before making my way to Newark Airport for my flight back to Manchester via Berlin via Dusseldorf (perks of allowing your German clients to arrange your flights!).
All-in-all this was an awesome trip and I’m stoked to get underway with our summer plans for WMC – Chris, I think we need to invest in a new camera with proper Mic so we can document our travels as we go. If we want to continue to be able to combine our work with travel our pursuit of international clients needs to step up a gear and I’ll be forever grateful to Kirsty for introing us the guys that sent us out here.
If you have any Q’s about my week, the Ball Mania campaign or want to use any of the footage we captured from Las Vegas or NYC please reach out to me through which ever of the below you feel most comfortable with.
Thanks for reading – well done. You made it to the end… unless you just scrolled down to the bottom to see more pictures and to see whether it got juicy or not. I’ll take solace that more people have probably read this though than my 10,000-word dissertation on the Geology of Mamonia Complex in the southwest Troodos Mountains.