EEMAGINE: Charting the way ahead for the industry

By Chhavi Tyagi , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media | July 13, 2009
The second EEMA convention was a mix of fun and serious discussions

The second annual convention of the Events & Entertainment Management Association (EEMA), called EEMAGINE, was a mix of fun, workshops, exhibition, discussions and, of course, presentations.

Held at Agra from July 9-11, the second convention, as observed by Michael Menezes, the president of EEMA, was a testimony to the fact that finally, the events and entertainment industry is getting consolidated and the association has been welcomed by the industry.

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The three-day convention started with the annual general body meeting of all the EEMA members (over 100), with an address by the president. The second day was filled with discussions on various issues concerning the industry.

The second day, after the ceremonial lamp lighting, started with a thumping performance by a band called Dfrn Strokes, to make the members appreciate that "There is no substitute for team work". The next session was a video address by Kolja Dams, chief executive officer of VoK Dams Gruppe, a Germany-based event and live marketing agency.

Dams spoke on the 'Global Perspective of the Event Industry'. He listed the prevailing global trends, which, he said, are measurability, authenticity, global budget cuts owing to the economic recession, changing demographics and digitisation.

He elaborated on these trends by observing that agencies have to deliver the right figures on ROI (return on investment) and that clients will spend money only if ROI delivers. However, Dams observed that the product has to be good and deliver on the promise of authenticity for the marketing campaign to be effective.

He also said that the trend is moving towards a 360-degree approach -- there will be more and more campaigns which will see a merger of offline and online media.

He signed off, "The future of advertising is BTL (below-the-line), face-to-face marketing and experiential marketing. The future of the industry rests here."

The next session was a presentation on one of the biggest issues facing the industry -- the absence of a uniform measurement tool. L V Krishnan, chief executive officer, TAM Media Research put forth his suggestions on a possible framework to come out with a tool on the lines of TAM (television) and RAM (radio) or IRS (newspaper).

Krishnan started the session by laying down the basic requirements which any industry needs to fulfil, to create a successful measurement tool. He said that first, agencies should be ready for "the naked truth". "Measurement is about being open. You have to be sure on what you are looking to measure, for which you have to lay down the precise metrics," he said.

Other points to remember, according to Krishnan, are honesty while accepting results; looking for in-depth insights to make your offerings better; the ability to judge facts on the basis of trends, rather than one-off results; looking for hidden meaning behind the numbers and being patient with your consumers, as changing consumer habits takes time.

"After you have got the measurement tool in place, it is very important to use it right. Absolute honesty is what is required while accepting results. Also, one-off results can be sometimes misleading. Therefore, taking decisions based on that can take you to a wrong direction. You have to observe the trends based on the results thrown up by the tool and then take a decision."

As one of the ways to measure events, Krishnan said that events that are telecast on television can easily be measured with proper evaluation and ROI calculations. He also stressed that as the first steps towards measurement, the industry will have to come out with buckets of event classifications, so that a benchmark could be set.

"For instance, you can classify the different genres of events into brand-oriented, occasion-oriented and both brand- and occasion-oriented, and then get on to measuring them. From there, you have to take learnings to integrate all data points for the industry to benchmark and create a universal currency," he advised.

Next on the agenda was a panel discussion on "Positioning the Event and Experiential Marketing Industry". The panellists comprised Kaushik Roy, president, brand strategy and marketing communications, Reliance Industries and Sabbas Joseph, director, Wizcraft International Entertainment. The discussion was anchored by Brian Tellis, chairman, Fountainhead Events.

Roy stated that event agencies have to act as partners, rather than vendors, to brands. "Relationships are important. Also, agencies have to establish relations not with the company or the individual heading the brand, but with brands themselves. You have to not only have a good understanding of the brand, but also have to demonstrate that understanding by knowing everything to do with that brand."

"Another important factor is of trust and transparency. As a client, I find it hard to trust the bills and invoices submitted to me by the agencies. Since there is no transparency in the process, it is hard for clients to trust the agencies. Also, the time has come for agencies to move out of the events space and get into experiential marketing, as that is what clients are demanding."

Joseph started his discourse with a question: "Are we vendors or partners?" He continued, "It's not what you believe, but what you make others believe, which is important. For the last few years, everybody has been saying that this is the business of the future. If that is so, then the time to invest in it is now. Through EEMA, we are fortunate to have the building blocks in place. Today, clients are not looking for just an event, but for proper justice done to their brands by the agencies. They are asking questions like, "Did my brand grow in any respect through this activity?"."

The second day of EEMAGINE ended with a number of presentations by employees of member companies, who shared their points of view on challenges facing the industry and gave suggestions on how to overcome these. The session was conducted as a competition, with the winner being announced on the EEMAX night, the first-ever awards night by EEMA.