Promo Items Add Buzz to Conference

When Inner Circle Labs hired Kennedy Events Circle to manage its first social discovery conference, Glimpse 2012, the event management company faced the daunting task of taking a standard hotel conference room and infusing it with a vibrant spirit to match that of its entrepreneurial and forward-thinking audience.

"The audience was a ‘who's who' of the media and technology communities," says Kennedy Events' partner Paige Buck. Companies and products in the social discovery space seek to connect people with new places, people and products based on their social interactions and interests.

"The Glimpse stage is meant to bring to life conversations that would happen over drinks – casual, unique, unrehearsed and valuable," according to the Glimpse conference website. Glimpse 2012 covered a wide array of subjects, including social discovery in lifestyle and entertainment, dating, and building of new social discovery products.

The conference brought together company founders, executives and industry experts at the forefront of creating new technologies for social networking and mobile apps. The speakers and panel discussions revolved around "anything and everything online," says Buck. "Speeches and panel discussions were insightful, making for an engaging conference."

The result was a one-day event that generated a huge social media buzz. "Glimpse trended nationally on Twitter, among top national headlines," says Buck.

Despite the digital focus, many of the companies that presented turned to promotional products to help convey or reinforce their brand message to the approximately 250 people who attended. Attendees received a conference cross-body bag which contained the Glimpse logo on one side, and the San Francisco cityscape silkscreened in red on the other. "The bag was just a simple, canvas tote, gender-neutral and useful," says Buck, adding, "I use it all the time." One conference attendee said people came up to him on the street to ask where he got the bag and what the event was, notes Buck.

Other top sponsors at the conference offered clever giveaways. "Sometimes it wasn't just the items themselves, but their placement," says Buck. MeetMe, a social platform, collaborated with the conference venue to have branded MeetMe coffee mugs stacked by the coffee machine all day, and to wash and return the clean mugs to attendees' place settings so they could reuse them and take them home. The stacks of mugs repeated the MeetMe logo over and over, reinforcing the brand name.

TripIt, a social and mobile app for keeping travel plans together and accessible, gave branded passport holders to conference guests who visited their booth. And Waze, a traffic and navigation app, gave attendees a branded iPhone stand that mounts to the car window a safe, visible distance from the driver, so the phone can function as a GPS device. Schemer, a Google spinoff that helps users share and discover things to do (like exploring a new city), offered cookies glazed with the Schemer logo at the dessert table.

Attendees were encouraged to pose in front of a "step and repeat" backdrop bearing the conference and sponsors' logos. "At the end of the day, after cocktails, people grouped together and took fun photos, which resulted in great images of people connected with the brand, and great publicity for the conference," says Buck.

As people posted their photos to their own networking sites, the images showed people who hadn't been there what they missed. "Also, creating inexpensive vinyl wall decals with the client's logo is a great way to make your mark on an event space without busting the budget," Buck adds.

Promotional products added to the buzz and energy of the conference, says Buck, adding, "The sponsors at this conference hit the nail on the head in their selection of promotional items."

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