With Generation X firmly established in the workforce and Gen Y entering it, corporate events have an entirely new type of employee to entertain--one who's tech-savvy, endlessly interactive and firmly under 40. Soirees for this set are often celebrity-heavy, formality-light, and set to knock the socks off a group blase to the bone.
For the "Scion Behind the Wheel" promotion, which spanned a 13-week period beginning last April, Marina del Rey, Calif.-based AMCI kept a close eye on its audience. Toyota's Scion, targeted to the 20-something market, wanted to get its Optimize car accessories into the hands of this tech-crazy segment. To do so, AMCI had to create "grass-roots event programs without coming across as overtly commercial and losing [Scion's] hip mystique," according to executive producer Tom Burke.
OPEN ALL NIGHT
To keep the brand's edge, AMCI scoured the nation for hip venues, favoring cool, independent record stores, for example, over national chains. And because "Scion customers and prospects keep odd hours," Burke notes, the promotion took place between 6 p.m. and midnight--at times extending even as late as 3 a.m.--to tap into the after-hours club and all-night coffeehouse scene. As for the road crew picked to promote the items, "If you looked at our event staff and many of the participants at the event, you'd have a hard time telling who was who," Burke claims.
The success of the program shows in the numbers. The promotion attracted 34,845 consumers, far exceeding the 25,000 goal, and the opt-in rate was 30 percent--nearly double the industry average, Burke says. The promotion worked so well that Toyota pursued a similar multi-venue campaign in August for the new Yaris vehicle, also aimed at a youthful market, which allowed participants to decoupage tester cars.
TALKING 'BOUT A GENERAION
Greg Jenkins, partner of Bravo Productions in Long Beach, Calif., has spoken on the topic of events for Generations X and Y at The Special Event, ISES Eventworld and Meeting Professionals International. Here he gives tips on getting and keeping the attention of a demographic with a notoriously short attention span.
- Design invitations with little copy because "if there is too much to read, Gen X and Y are inclined to lose interest." Funky invitations that use graffiti, for example, are more likely to entice than formal invitations.
- Use strong visuals and bright colors in decor to interest guests who grew up on video games.
- Encourage participation. Employees with a MySpace mentality prefer to act instead of observe.
- Recognize the diverse span of a generation. "Gen Xers who are on the tip of 38 and 39 and those 28 years of age are inclined to see things entirely differently."
- Include a post-party activity for a demographic who likes to socialize.
- Don't use the phrases "Gen X" or "Gen Y" to that group. They'll view it as contrived.
For more, see the June issue of Special Events Magazine. Photo courtesy AMCI.