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Reimagining the Annual Awards Night

Part 1 of 3 – Innovation

The keyword ‘innovation’ is being thrown around in corporate circles a lot recently. “Innovate the procurement process,” or “let’s insert some innovation in our product line-up” or “make our Awards Gala innovative.” Innovation is used to demonstrate to customers and clients how special and important they are.

And this direction is showing up in the design of corporate events, too.

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To demonstrate how special and important its colleagues are to a particular auto sales company, Bright Ideas was asked to innovate the same old Annual Employee Awards Night. You know, that day when the boss stands up, extols on the virtues of a few worthy employees, and presents them with a certificate or a plaque, usually along with a gift card. All while everyone is eating finger foods prepared by the lobby cafe and drinking lukewarm bottled juice or water.

Bright Ideas was asked to innovate this experience and we certainly answered: we designed a Talk Show, hosted by a professional MC, with the award recipients being the show’s ‘special guests,’ and each award category introduced by an entertainment segment of Improv comedy. All of this occurred when guests enjoyed a buffet dinner at a 4 star downtown hotel property while sipping local wines.

And we didn’t stop there.

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Nothings screams innovation like LIVE. We gave everyone a voting device and designed the entire Talk Show around guests voting in real time on how the evening progressed. Even we, the planners of the event, didn’t know exactly how it would unfold!

At every opportunity, we got the guests participating in the evolution of their own Awards Night. On several occasions, we asked them to change the conditions in the ballroom by having them vote on which extreme event they’d like to experience, such as Lightning Storm, Earthquake, or Post Apocalyptic Wasteland. If the majority voted for Lightning Storm, for example, the lighting would flash and burst, the sound would crack and rumble, and a video of spectacular lightning strikes would play on the two jumbo screens on either side of the stage, immersing guests in multi-sensory episodes that they themselves voted to experience.

We also got them voting on the conditions in which their colleagues would receive their awards. As each award category was introduced by a segment of Improv, we had pre-determined the category-specific characters and scenes, and other details in the form of suggestions from the audience filled in the blanks and got the skits going. The skits would progress hilariously, offering both an anecdote of what kind of characteristics an award winner might have resulting in many belly-laughs. The skits would arrive at a dilemma, the actors would pause – usually mid-sentence – options would appear on the jumbo screens offering possible conclusion, and the audience would vote on which way they wanted the skit to finish. Naturally, the majority usually picked the most outrageous option, causing great fun and laughter.

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But more importantly, guests of this year’s Annual Awards Night got to actively participate in their very own Talk Show and to manipulate the conditions in which their colleagues accepted their awards.

Now THAT’s innovating and reimagining the Annual Awards Night!

Stay tuned, because in next week’s blog, we’re going to tell you about how innovation creates spontaneity. Contact us today to see how we can turn your next Annual Awards Night into a Showstopping Event! To view photos of this event, please click here.

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