WOODLAND HILLS, Calif.-based TBA Global Events grabbed the spotlight last month when it announced its acquisition of event powerhouse PGI, a move that entrenches TBA as a top-tier producer of corporate and consumer marketing events. Here, TBA executive vice president of business affairs Jeff Kline discusses the event marketplace of today and tomorrow.
SPECIAL EVENTS MAGAZINE: What factors led the management team to re-brand TBA Entertainment last year as “TBA Global Events”?
JEFF KLINE: Since 2000, there has been a paradigm shift in how companies and brands are reaching their audience. The effectiveness of traditional advertising continues to be challenged, and brands are reaching out for more innovative ways to achieve relevance. All of these changes led to the repositioning of the company and, ultimately, to renaming ourselves TBA Global Events. We are uniquely positioned to offer both stra-tegic events and comprehensive entertainment programs. Our recent acquisition of PGI has increased TBA Global Events' presence worldwide.
Q: Please give an example or two of recent corporate events — what made these programs so effective?
A: We recently completed Herbalife's 25th Anniversary Extravaganza, which drew over 35,000 dignitaries and distributors from all over the world. This three-day event contained many comprehensive details and logistics including a one-of-a-kind product launch, executive keynote addresses, sales training symposiums as well as an exclusive performance by Sir Elton John. We were able to meet the needs of many presenters, and attendees left the event motivated, educated and rejuvenated.
TBA Global Events also works with software giant SAP and produced their renowned SAPPHIRE conference — the largest company-sponsored B2B conference in the world. Working alongside their internal team, we created a three-day program in March that began with the SAP global message reinforced on the trade-show floor designed to keep attendees informed and entertained with large projection theaters and sound systems. We were responsible for the creation of 16 different theaters within the conference that included the custom Keynote Theater, where marquee speakers addressed SAPPHIRE attendees.
Q: Please give an example of a recent consumer marketing program.
A: We are especially proud to be part of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Tour of Hope with [seven-time Tour de France winner] Lance Armstrong. TBA Global Events has been the project manager of this social marketing campaign for the past three years. In addition to our involvement in the kickoff event and midweek events taking place in multiple cities, we are managing the Washington finale, which takes place Oct. 8. One of the highlights is a virtual ride that allows the public to ride alongside Armstrong. Each participant on the ride will help raise funds, as Bristol-Myers Squibb will be donating money to the cause for each mile. The anticipated attendance is 12,000.
Q: Do your corporate clients request proof of the value of the special events you create for them, i.e., ROI? If so, how do you prove the events' worth?
A: ROI is very important, but it is measured differently by each client. The return could be measured by the number of people attending the event, how the event looked and was perceived, or how each attendee felt as they left the event. We believe that ROI of events can be somewhat intangible, but the true value resides in that moment when the brand achieves relevance and preference to the audience, and that is what we focus on.
Q: In our entertainment- and celebrity-saturated culture, what can a well-conceived, well-executed special event do for a corporation that nothing else can?
A: People thrive on a sense of community, and well-executed special events generate a sense of unity and foster emotion. A well-planned, well-executed corporate event brings people together, excites them and creates feelings that can't be duplicated with a conference call or an e-mail. This applies to large-scale special events as well as smaller meetings and conferences.
Q: The last few years have been sluggish for the special event industry — what do you predict in the market for the next couple of years?
A: We have seen a significant shift in the way companies are allocating funds — moving their dollars from extensive advertising toward the development of event-focused integrated marketing programs. Corporations are investing money in their events and in their people. Special events are seen as opportunities to motivate and educate their work force in an effort to be more successful at reaching their audience and goals. Consumer lifestyle events are created that bring relevance, influence behavior and present new choices to the public.
TBA Global Events can be reached at 818/226-2800; www.tbaglobalevents.com.