Following the success of Paul’s fireside chat with Maria Olivas De Crombag, VP, Trade Engagement & Brand Experience at De Beers Group, our MD sums up his key take-aways for being a sustainability pioneer.

Paul Godwin | MD | 2Heads

This April saw my first visit to the EventMarketer Experiential Summit, a moment of significant pride for me for many reasons. Not only were 2Heads amongst their peers as one of the Top 100 IT List event agencies, I was also joined by a very special guest for an all-important fireside chat during the conference.

The team has worked with Maria, and the De Beers Group, for a number of years now and the journey we’ve been on together is one of note. From the start, the challenge was how to take a bold stance on sustainability, and the approach was rigorous and uncompromising, proving that events can be eco-conscious at their very core.

To set the scene, De Beers is known around the world for its diamond jewelry, but after nearly 2 years spent curating award-winning events and brand experiences in Las Vegas and Hong Kong, their event organization is also gaining recognition for a brave vision on sustainability.  Our fireside chat aimed to share that brand vision for a more considered future, reviewing challenges and opportunities, and providing tips on internal stakeholder engagement, experience design, material use and carbon measurement.

The Vision

During EMS 2024, sustainability was one of the main talking points and the general consensus was that the industry has a long way to go to understanding what a carbon-conscious event actually looks like. The general trend between event professionals was a desire to know more and do better, a perfect forum for Maria and De Beers to answer the industry’s questions.

Maria is a great advocate for a sustainable solution that can’t be accused of green-washing. De Beers has set the bar higher than most brands, and those looking to emulate their success need to start with the parameters set around their vision, find a partner who shares their aims and avoid compromise as the first response when challenges arise

The De Beers group has gone through a significant evolution as a company. 15% owned by the Botswanan government, the De Beers group live and breathe their ‘Building Forever’ promise. Founded around 4 core pillars; leading ethical practices, partnering for thriving communities, protecting the natural world and accelerating equal opportunity, these goals are actively marketed at their events, and experience design begins with the essence of communicating these. 

Maria’s advice during the chat was to keep true to vision. Make your company’s CSR vitally important not only to our business, but also to your employees and communities. Make sure your events do not compromise, and be proud of your company’s stance when crafting your brand experience.

The Challenges

From a macro level, the challenges facing event professionals on creating eco-conscious experiences are many, and far too varied for us to cover in one session. It is worth considering however, how understanding the main challenges for De Beers Group provide visibility and became the area where solutions were most innovative:

What Does Good Look Like

For Maria and the De Beers Group, the success of their switch to sustainable events can be measured by three key factors:

Physical – By using materials not commonly employed by the industry, and seeking to locally resource, we are collectively make the supply chain adapt and consider new ways of working that are better for all, with a view to bringing costs down on new approaches. Environment design was considered beyond aesthetics; red lines on carbon impact were discussed from day one and materials used were as important as what they looked like.  Considering what happens when elements reach end of life was a key consideration.We took on the practical challenge of creating uniformity of image worldwide, making continuity an important KPI.

Delegate Experience – Defining red lines did not mean the delegate experience design had to be compromised. Clever event technology and narrative-led content can showcase a brand story as well, if not better than physical experiences. There is certainly a need to keep innovating in this area.

Leadership-The De Beers Group attend these events to lead. For them, the most amazing side effect was that other site- holders didn’t just congratulate them on what the events had achieved, but how they could get involved and learn from the De Beers program. The ability to hold meaningful conversations with guests over their community/society awarenesand commitment, was of huge importance to the De Beers team. For me, a key takeaway was that; if the pandemic showed us anything, it is the importance of face to face communications between people, communities and business, and how the subtle interactions between people can make all the difference. 

When considering sustainability, the obvious question is do we need to travel? On a societal level, as long as the benefit of face to face interactions exist, we have to work within that desire and minimize the impact whilst not compromising on brand experience. We need to keep pushing innovation to allow the brands we work with to get the messaging they need to come across whilst giving back to the societies in which they thrive.

James Simpkins | Global CGO

In the fast-paced, digitally saturated world we live in, brands are constantly searching for innovative ways to capture the attention and loyalty of their target audiences. Traditional marketing methods, while still valuable, are increasingly overshadowed by the power of experiential marketing. Experiential events have emerged as the most important tool in a brand’s arsenal, transforming how companies connect with their customers, employees, and stakeholders.

The Experiential Marketing Summit (EMS) held in Las Vegas, put events front and centre of the agenda this year. With a multitude of topics covered by brand-side marketers and agency leaders, the scene was set to address industry challenges, seek solutions, and drive experiential marketing into the next era. Here are my key takeaways:

Exhibits are evolving to become more experiential, immersive, and innovative to truly captivate attendees. Traditional exhibits often lack engagement, but experiential ones encourage interaction, experimentation, and exploration, transforming passive visits into active engagements. This not only enhances enjoyment but also ensures lasting memories. Immersive exhibits may utilise AR, VR, and interactive installations to surround attendees in captivating environments, transporting them to alternate realities and significantly enhancing brand experiences. Additionally, innovative exhibits demonstrate a brand’s dedication to cutting-edge technology and forward-thinking strategies. By incorporating immersive interactions, brands can create a captivating wow factor that leaves a lasting impression on attendees, showcasing their commitment to innovation.

The future of experiential exhibit spaces is characterised by immersive technologies like VR and AR, personalised engagements, and seamless transitions between physical and digital realms. Best practices include designing cohesive narratives, encouraging active participation through interactive installations and gamification and leveraging social media for extended reach. Measuring ROI involves traditional metrics like foot fall as well as social media sharing and post-event surveys to assess brand perception and recall. Ultimately, success lies in creating memorable experiences that forge deep connections with audiences while delivering tangible value to brands.

Experiential marketing often faces misconceptions that it’s solely about flashy events or stunts, but its core lies in creating immersive brand experiences. Best practices emphasise authenticity, relevance, and emotional resonance to forge genuine connections with audiences. By focusing on understanding customer interests, preferences, and pain points, brands can craft memorable experiences that resonate on a personal level, nurturing lasting relationships and loyalty. Integrating storytelling, interactive elements, and sensory engagement can further enhance the impact, ensuring that each instance leaves a lasting impression and encourages a strong bond between brand and audience.

At the heart of crafting captivating technology conferences is the ability to drive audience engagement through innovative experiences. By seamlessly integrating interactive sessions, hands-on sessions, and cutting-edge demos, these events transcend traditional boundaries, sparking curiosity and collaboration among attendees. Whether through immersive VR showcases, live competitions, or dynamic panel discussions featuring industry trailblazers, the aim is to ignite inspiration and collaboration, transforming each conference into an unforgettable journey of discovery and advancement in the ever evolving world of technology.

Embracing a bold stance on event sustainability demands a concerted effort to minimise environmental footprint. This entails implementing practices such as waste reduction, carbon offsetting, and sourcing locally to reduce transportation emissions. By prioritising eco-conscious decisions in event planning, we not only demonstrate our commitment to environmental stewardship but also inspire others to follow suit, adopting a culture of sustainability within the events industry.

Experiential marketing continues to evolve, facing several pain points such as audience engagement, ROI measurement, budget constraints, and scalability. To address these challenges, future strategies must embrace technological advancements like AR/VR and AI to create immersive, personalised experiences. Additionally, hybrid events that blend physical and digital elements figure in reaching wider audiences. Sustainability will also play a crucial role, as reducing exhibit waste is increasingly important. This can be achieved by using eco-friendly materials, digital alternatives to printed materials, and robust waste management practices, including recycling and repurposing. Collaborating with suppliers who prioritise green practices further supports sustainability efforts. By tackling these pain points and integrating innovative strategies, businesses can create impactful and environmentally responsible experiential marketing campaigns.

Organisations can drive innovation by cultivating a culture that values and encourages creativity, risk-taking, and collaboration. Providing employees with the autonomy to explore ideas, experiment with new approaches, and learn from failures develops an environment where innovation can thrive. Additionally, investing in continuous learning and development opportunities, promoting diverse teams, and creating channels for open communication and idea-sharing can further empower individuals to drive innovation within the organisation.

Today, companies navigate the delicate balance of crafting cohesive narratives across diverse marketing platforms while maintaining the authenticity integral to their brands. Through careful alignment of messaging, visuals, and values, they weave narratives that resonate with audiences across channels, from social media to traditional advertising. By prioritising transparency and sincerity, they create trust and connection, ensuring that every story they tell reflects the essence of their brand, developing lasting relationships with customers in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

Agency leaders can grow team development and strategic partnerships by nurturing a culture of collaboration and innovation, encouraging open communication, and providing opportunities for skill enhancement and leadership development. By aligning team goals with the agency’s overarching vision and values, leaders can inspire a sense of purpose and commitment among team members. Additionally, forging strategic partnerships with complementary organisations can expand market reach, enhance capabilities, and drive growth through shared resources and expertise, ultimately positioning the agency for long-term success in a competitive landscape.

Harnessing theatrical creativity for more inclusive and engaging events, starts by embracing diversity in casting, themes, and perspectives. Encourage collaboration among participants to co-create narratives that resonate with a wide audience. Incorporate interactive elements like immersive spaces or participatory storytelling to invite active engagement from attendees. Foster a supportive atmosphere where everyone feels valued and heard, ensuring representation both on stage and behind the scenes. By prioritising inclusivity and creativity, events can become powerful platforms for connection and understanding.

So, why are events everything?

Experiential events have become the cornerstone of modern marketing strategies. They offer unparalleled opportunities for immersive engagement, emotional connection, brand differentiation, real-time feedback, and social media amplification. Likewise, they enhance employee engagement, creating a holistic impact on the brand’s ecosystem.

As brands continue to navigate the complexities of a digitally driven market, those who invest in creating meaningful, memorable experiences will find themselves not just surviving, but thriving. The future of marketing lies in the power of experience, and those who continue to harness it will lead the way.

Events are here to stay.

Hayley Smith | Global Client Services Director

I left University with an event management degree from Bournemouth. It was the Uni’s debut year of the course and for me, the beginning of many firsts I’d like to share with anyone thinking of a career in events.

In college, the travel & tourism course had an event management module. I set up a casino night in Henley Town Hall and realised I’d found my niche. I excel at direction, apparently 🙂 and when the Bournemouth event management course launched, I knew I couldn’t ignore the opportunity.

Event courses were known as the party planning degree and only three universities offered the degree at the time, all offering little on the production and management side. I wanted to ensure that I had a commercial focus to the degree and would recommend to anyone looking to get into events to take a look at the syllabus and make sure it offers the skill-set you need.  

Out of uni, glossy degree in hand, I went straight to an events company that specialised in defence and aerospace. The agency was niche, creating conferences and exhibitions in partnership with global defence forces from Malaysia to the US and Saudi Arabia. This was my next learning curve and supports my next piece of advice to anyone looking for a career in events; try to challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone. You don’t know what you can achieve until you try. That’s what I realised, presenting to Heads of Defence in my early twenties, that most things are possible if you just give them a go. 

At the time, I was tasked with the organisation and strategy of bringing events to different regions to support their latest tenders and requirements. For example, when the Royal Malaysian Air Force were looking for their next generation fighter we knew that events in this region would be well placed to support companies such as BAE, SAAB, Lockheed Martin & Boeing with their bid strategies. I remember sitting in front of the Chief of the Malaysian Navy at the age of 25 and pitching event opportunities for their region! Sometimes I look back and smile at how fearless I was; I’d only been at the agency a few weeks when I had to find the right speakers for conferences and ended up on a call to Nasa!

After 6 years I left as Head of Events and started working for 2Heads in 2016. What attracted me when I was interviewed was the clear career path and the aligned clients. I was also given the choice of going client side or project side? This is an important consideration when planning your career in events as both worlds have their pros and cons. For me, I chose the client side because I wanted a greater breadth of understanding around how brands work and my skills suited a commercial growth mindsight. I also didn’t want to travel quite as much as I used to 🙂

This piece of advice I can not stress enough; really think about what element of event management you actually enjoy. For me, I found the business-led helicopter thinking fascinating and my interest lies more in the overall success of the events. Knowing that, Paul, our MD, guided me on how to manage contracts of growing size from Taj Hotels, AIR BP, Flight Safety and Pilatus through to 328, now Deutsche Aircraft. 

One of my first new business wins at 2Heads was for the Rolls-Royce global show programme. The pitch was different to anything I’d worked on before and marked a change in the industry for me. Rolls-Royce didn’t just make their decisions on creative but on who we are as a business, how we run a supply chain and how we manage risk. This is ‘events’ at their most serious and reflect their importance to a brand’s success. 

For me, the importance of events to international industry is one of the things I love. The Rolls-Royce win was a game-changer for 2Heads. The account cemented us as an agency to reckon with in our peer’s eyes and laid the groundwork for the agency to scale up to manage a global account like Airbus. In 2018, we won Airbus’ environment at HAI Heli Expo in Las Vegas, our largest scale win to date and a left-field decision from Airbus, but taken because they loved our creative and our team.

In 2018 and after delivering HAI, my first son Arlo was born followed by my second son Bowie in March 2021. It can be hard to be in events as a mum as the industry is not 9 to 5. Global clients have global timescales and you are always ‘on’ – juggling guilt of not being there and the worry about work. Luckily the industry is more accepting now and flexible working has been life-changing; being able to be present and pick your kid up from school has made the events industry far more attractive option to female professionals. Another piece of advice; the multi-tasking of events actually suits a working parent as it leans into strengths; we are more efficient and cut-throat on time management!

Our relationship with Airbus was evolving before the pandemic but our focus on how we reacted to showcase technology during the covid years became a turning point with our Airbus relationship. 2021 was the big turning point with our first pavilion in Dubai, and then onto the Farnborough International Airshow event. The home show for 2Heads and a compelling win for the team. How to handle the pressure? The Airbus presence at FIA came with a lot of responsibility, we had a very strong Airbus team but this event was commercially important for all parties involved. My advice; mitigate risk as soon as you can, plan for commercial success and have a strategy for problem solving on site. 

The planning paid off and FIA 2022 was iconic but so was the heatwave we had to build it in! It was amazing. A pinnacle of my career to date and it showed all the naysayers that we could smash it. The main thing though was the success for Airbus, which paved the road to Paris Air show, Airbus’ home. Stakes were again high but we had all the learnings from FIA that we could migrate to make the PAS event even more successful. And what are those secrets to success? More digital thinking is needed in events, with bespoke technology that goes beyond gimmicks. And more brand experience linked to commercial thinking; all brands have a growth cycle and comms team really do want to recognise what events bring success for them so work with them as partners to invest in what generates ROI. 

So what’s next? We are a top agency in aviation. We are extending contracts for our existing brand portfolio and are now working with some amazing new brands like Qatar Airways. So now it’s time for nurture. My focus is on teams and talent within the business. We are a leader in this area and we have such a breadth of knowledge we can use to train up the next generation of fresh talent from placement, unis and colleges. This nurturing also brings in new ways of working, communicating and efficiencies with technology and processes. 

I’m actively building a team based on eager people who want to pivot into events, either from college, university or other industries. For anyone thinking of joining the event and experiential industry, don’t ever doubt yourself.  Be brave, you will learn on the job, and of course check out our job opportunities on our website. 

About Hayley

Hayley is our Global Client Services Director, responsible for the account directors across our international offices. An expert in commercial event strategy, Hayley is also the key stakeholder for the our aviation industry brands. Partnering with brands like Airbus and Qatar Airways, she has been responsible for creating some of the most standout and award-winning events and experience of recent years.

From U2’s mind-bending residency at the Sphere – to the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix and Super Bowl LVIII – Las Vegas is pulling out all the stops as the location of choice for the world’s greatest events. Senior Account Director & Head of the 2Heads Canada Office, Nadine Susel visits this heart of entertainment and asks, ‘why Las Vegas?’

Vegas Baby! Without fail I’ve found myself in Sin City at least once a year for longer than I care to admit. The lights, the sights – like so many I have a special place in my heart for this wild desert oasis.

It’s impossible to ignore Las Vegas’ resurgence over the past year. She’s a city committed to staying attractive and relevant in a time when influencer reviews can make or break a brand overnight. But then what exactly do brands have to gain by activating in Las Vegas?

The Sphere

“The Sphere? Didn’t notice it when we landed” – said no one! The largest spherical building in the world is unmissable, even in a crowded Vegas skyline. I had the bucket-list worthy honour of seeing U2:UV Achtung Baby Live in October and yes, the completely immersive visuals (coupled with exceptional sound quality) have forever changed my expectations of live entertainment. The exterior of the Sphere immediately became a must-have for major brand takeovers – Netflix, Coca-Cola and Xbox to name just a few! During their AU23 conference, software giant Autodesk joined forces with Marvel Studios to use the Sphere and nearby rooftop for a truly out-of-this-world movie promo. Having been onsite for AU23, I have to say the buzz for keynote speaker (and fellow Canadian) Ryan Reynolds, combined with the Sphere takeover, was the talk of the town!

The Super Bowl

The Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix was the fifth North American race in the 2023 season – further validation that the sport is enjoying massive growth and visibility this side of the pond. As an F1 fan myself, (yes it was Drive to Survive that turned me,) I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to see this one in person. The sheer logistical lift of transforming the Strip into a 200-mph straightaway while maintaining crowd flow and transportation would send any event person into a cold sweat. (Of excitement? Terror? You decide).

In the days leading up to that infamous Saturday night, Vegas was all in on F1. Love it or hate it – the Opening Ceremony showcased the sizzle of Sin City with hotels rolling out the red carpet for private viewing events and each property competing for attention in a cacophony of A-list celebrity talent. I was lucky enough to be invited by one of our local Montreal partners to watch the race from Caesar’s Palace. Witnessing Verstappen’s dominance while enjoying caviar blinis in great company from the rooftop made famous by the Hangover? Only in Vegas.

Las Vegas Grand Prix

Taylor Swift’s race around the world to witness her beau and the Kansas City Chiefs’ victory over the 49ers brought all eyes back to Vegas this past February. In a city built for hosting, Vegas went all in on hospitality lounges, pre-game brand activations and epic after parties. Allegiant Stadium offered outrageously expensive sponsorship packages to brands who were more than happy to shell out seven-figures to be close to the action. Did anyone miss Usher’s halftime performance? If you did, I’m sure you caught up on social media after frantically googling if Beyoncé’s Verizon ad truly was an album teaser.

Similar to the Las Vegas Grand Prix, the Super Bowl took place in the heart of the city. This gave brands the Blank Space to create their ultimate fan Love Story – a captive audience committed to engaging with brands beyond their Wildest Dreams. OK! But in all seriousness the Super Bowl is a master class in timing; providing companies with the flexibility to create a branded environment in downtown Las Vegas, one that amplifies both your social media and media campaigns; that’s a win every time.

Consumer Electronic Show

Last stop on my Vegas year in review: CES – the proving ground for breakthrough technologies and global innovators. Based exclusively in the Las Vegas Convention Center since 2008, there is something about the energy and excitement of CES that truly makes it the most powerful tech event in the world. When the serious business of innovating leans in to the scale and showmanship of Las Vegas, the industry has a chance to let it’s hair down! It’s a show I take massive inspiration from, noting the design and guest engagement trends I want to discuss with our clients, all while getting my steps in.

To share a few of those notes: this year the Sphere’s influence was apparent, with many brands opting for large scale high-resolution bespoke content – purposefully designed to create stunning optical illusions (or trompe-l’œil as we say in French.)

Brands like Google focused on a personalized end-to-end guest experience, relying on exceptional brand ambassadors and detailed set design to create unique fan engagement zones.

The biggest and best surprise for me at CES this year (no I’m not going to say AI) was how media and entertainment brands showed up in a huge way. Disney held it’s annual Tech & Data Showcase during the show, and Netflix created an exclusive immersive theatre trailer for 3 Body Problem complete with replica headsets from the show. Watch this space for what I am sure will be an even bigger presence in 2025.

But Nadine, what exactly do brands have to gain by activating in Vegas?

The answer is simple: attention – and lots of it!

Las Vegas has taken all of the drama, performance and excitement that she has – and offered it as a stage to the world. Whether you’re a brand looking to push the boundaries of entertainment, create brand worlds that fans love, or amplify all of the above via a multi-channel multi-million dollar campaign – Vegas has everything you need to make it happen in a big way. Personally I can’t wait to see what’s next – and I hope to see you there!

Nadine xoxo

Solving Sustainability; 2Heads review and showcase some of the innovative companies that help you make a difference.

Trees 4 Travel – A New Era of Mindful Travel Technology

We have all been there. The carbon cost of an event has been carefully tallied, considered and reduced where possible. Then someone (rightly) asks about the cost of travel for delegates. What if there was a United Nations (CER) certified company that focused on just that?

Meet Trees4Travel! An award winning environmental ‘Tech For Good’ company that works with the world’s main travel brand in the business & leisure sectors to provide FREE carbon management technology to calculate & help reduce emissions impact. What we love is how Trees4Travel use a simple way to make positive climate contributions through direct integrations into booking systems, API or simple file uploads. They help educate in-house event teams & provide the necessary transitionary tools to get us all, brands, agency and contractors, to our net zero targets in the future – making travel & events more ethical & more sustainable.

Not Your Every Day – Beautiful, Sustainable Furniture for Your Creative Spaces.

Our Creative Team are always looking for sustainability with substance, whether they are designing networking spaces for the De Beers Group or the VIP suites for Bombardier. A recent favourite, Not Your Every Day, create amazing furniture that is either plant-based, biological, biodegradable, and recyclable. Their range of sustainable furniture includes pieces produced entirely from post-consumer plastic waste, some made from hemp, used cooking oil, reclaimed fishing nets and even used Carlsberg kegs.

Not only is their furniture beautiful to the eye, Not Your Every Day is sustainable from start to finish. From the pallet wrap they use, the protective coverings on their furniture, to the electricity that powers their building and cars, they’re committed to ensuring every detail is considered throughout their business. What we love is their refusal to box tick and their desire to create the world’s most sustainably produced furniture, without ever compromising on design.

GreenCollect – Helps you put the Circular Economy into Action

We would all like to live in a world without waste. For those of us in the events and experience industry, the generation of waste is a challenge we are constantly facing and it’s great to see some companies out there actively rising to the challenge with organisational solutions.

Green Collect are specialists in finding the best environmental outcome for a wide variety of surplus and discarded items. They focus on innovative solutions to the problem of waste, and are dedicated to keeping office items out of landfill, keeping them in the circular economy through reuse, repurpose, and by dismantling into materials. We love how Green Collect ensure that resources are used to their full potential, finding ways to reuse items in the community or make them into other products.

If you would like to join a complimentary SOS Lab or find out more about our work producing sustainable events and exhibitions, drop us a line: 

2Heads and De Beers Group land important win at this year’s BizBash Event Experience Awards

BizBash is the world’s leading resource for meeting and event professionals looking to stay up-to-date on the latest industry news, get inspired, learn something new, and expand their network.

BizBash is fueled by the event planners, meeting planners, vendors, suppliers, business owners, PR professionals, and aspiring industry leaders who read its content. Aside from an average monthly readership of 500,000, the BizBash mission is to help its audience produce smarter meetings and events — and every year the BizBash Event Experience Awards recognise and celebrate those brands and agencies at the cutting edge of brand experience and events.

2Heads were thrilled to receive two nominations this year for the De Beers Group whose pioneering work in sustainability was nominated for both Best Trade/Consumer Show and Best Sustainability/ Corporate Social Responsibility Program.

Landing the important win for Best Sustainability/ Corporate Social Responsibility in 7th February’s online ceremony, cements De Beers as industry leaders in pushing the boundaries of sustainability and making a positive impact on our planet. ????????

‘Best experience in the show and everything is sustainable! The cork flooring is natural and no trees were damaged. The paint on the walls is 100% natural… So when we talk about building forever, we talk about making sure it influences every decision we make.’

David Prager | Chief Brand Officer | De Beers Group

Read about the BizBash Experience Awards and take a look at the complete list of honorees here.

James Simpkins, Global CGO, talks from personal experience about the challenge of onboarding a team on the sustainability journey and how his learnings can help others with this important task.

“It feels like we’ve already been on our sustainability journey for an eternity. Have we made progress, yes. Could we be doing more, absolutely. Is the pace of progress frustrating, yes of course it is!

I tell myself, and I know I must keep encouraging those around me to step out of their comfort zone, not to fear the change and to push the boundaries. There is a true opportunity to learn from implementing sustainable working and design practices. It teaches people to deal with the challenges and problems they face daily. It helps people to acquire new skills and before too long, makes it a natural extension of their expertise.

In my opinion however, it really does require the collaboration of all parties to measure and improve the environmental impact of experiential events. It works so much better when you have clients and stakeholders that are truly passionate about making positive change. This usually is driven by their personal beliefs and backed by their brands corporate policies. But of course, not everybody is in the same place and is operating at the same pace. As an agency, we believe we can help drive the change and support our clients on their journey but of course, we need people to be willing and able to help us, help them, make it happen.

What do we do to create momentum within the agency? It is easy to put a document out, load them up to the Intranet, brief teams in focused sessions and think that’s it. Repetition of course serves as a brilliant reminder of what best practice looks like, but as a growing agency, we’ve a duty to ensure the newest members of our team have the foundations to contribute and add value at the earliest opportunity. 

As part of new team member’s onboarding programme, we hold an initial focused session on environmental sustainability, rather than attempting to also address financial and social sustainability. These highly important and interlinked elements form part of our wider agency strategy and stakeholder reporting but are also addressed in our vision and values. We’ve found, even though sessions are narrowed down, there’s still a lot to take on board. We start by sharing stories of where sustainable strategies have been implemented, if they were successful, or not, and what the outcomes and learnings were.

Owing to the diverse experience of new team members, brilliant stories are shared, and they help us all carry new perspectives. One example, told of an experience working at a much sought after events and wedding venue. The venue deployed a strategy not to cut the grass in the grounds of the venue with the right intention of improving the ecosystem and protecting the wildlife. However, the bridal parties that arrived for their big day were surprised that the venue they’d bought into, now had grounds resembling a scruffy recreational park. The venue got the ‘why’ part right, but missed the ‘what and how.’ We agreed the venue could’ve invested in a wildflower meadow which would be amazing on the eye, fabulous in photos and would improve the ecosystem a step further. Learnings often lead to the same conclusion, doing the minimum for the right reasons doesn’t always deliver a satisfying result and happy customers. Stretching beyond this is important.

Having broken the ice, but not melted it, we cover the agencies Sustainability Commitment and how we all need to play our part in making proactive change happen. Our approach guides us in the way we do business and how the decisions we take today contribute to a better tomorrow. Through transparency, training, and robust measurement tools, we can assess and improve our impact at a project and business level. We then frame our net zero goals, discuss how actioning small things can make a significant difference. This includes reducing reusing and recycling waste, reducing carbon footprint, utilising green power sources, mindful travel, greener offices and supporting our local communities.

As a creative agency it’s natural that we will focus in on biophilic design where appropriate and the use of sustainable materials. Our teams have worked hard to research, discover, and catalogue a huge range of sustainable materials to inform and fuel our Sustainable Event Design Approach. Based on the circular economy framework and using the principles of eliminating waste and pollution from the outset, we share how we keep products and materials in use and recycle wherever we can. By minimising material use and selecting materials with a lower or even beneficial impact on the environment, we can create better solutions for clients and more importantly the planet.

To conclude the initial onboarding session, we work through our Sustainability Measurement Charter. We review how utilising measurement tools to record and report the carbon impact of our projects enables us to make informed choices and better decisions with our clients. We also discuss why increasing levels of measurement data in a uniform and consistent manner is of vital importance. With this, we can work from a consistent baseline and seek to reduce the impact of our work from project to project. We offer Sustainability Measurement Reporting to all our clients, on all our projects because we know it works better when you have clients and stakeholders that are truly passionate about making positive change.

Our agency teams are ready and are serious on sustainability, are you?

To see sustainability work in award-winning fashion, check out our work with the De Beers Group.

With possibly the most anticipated awards season ever returning this year, 2Heads turned their eyes to the red carpet to see which organiser delivered the best experience. As a top experiential marketing agency, we’re always looking for inspiration and influence, and nothing brings the glitz more than the awards. Here we discuss the celebs and experiences who owned their moment best.

The Golden Globes

After 118 days on the picket lines, the SAG AFTRA strike came to an end in November 2023 with a well-deserved win for the actors. The Golden Globes on the 7th January was the first big award ceremony to land since the strike ended and a perfect opportunity for them to launch their rebrand following their break from NBC.

Pre-event hype concentrated on how the insitution has changed with an expanded, diversified voting body. Some of these adjustments were welcome, even overdue; but how did they keep the annual celebrity extravaganza fun? The host Jo Koy didn’t have quite the satiricial edge of previous host Ricky Gervais but highlights included Robert Downey Jr’s wry speech, the enthuasism of Jon Batiste and Andra Day’s pairing and of course the added glitter of Taylor Swift in the room. One thing to change for next year however might be the design of that overlarge stage.

SAG Awards

Fast foward three days and the Screen Actors Guild Awards were a different affair. Less efficiency and more exuburance than the Globes, the SAG awards embraced a more relaxed attitude. Organizers set the tone as a reunion almost; a chance to celebrate after spending much of last year on the picket line. Last year, every actor who prevailed at SAG went on to win an Oscar so the guild’s votes were the main talk of the town, though for us as an agency, the highlight of the event were Silent House Productions who provided the slick production behind the SAG’s first live-stream on Netflix.

75th Primetime Emmy Awards

Let’s move on from award vibes and look at after-parties! None of which had more of vibe than those cocooning this year’s Emmy awards. TV’s biggest night took place four months late, leaving brands ample time to get planning. Activations abound with our favourite invite only parties including Disney’s chic winter sanctuary-inspired fete and HBO | Max’s eclectic bungalow bash. 

Disney’s “Après Fête”-themed after-party, held at Otium in Downtown Los Angeles drew inspiration from the chic ambiance of an East Coast boutique mingled with West Coast wine country using a palette of rich leathers, woods, layered textiles. HBO | Max’s Bungalow embraced more of a White Lotus vibe where guests were handed a map of the unique F&B pop-ups and entertainment moments—including performances from DJ Este Haim.

Sundance Film Festival

You can always rely on the Sundance Film Festival to have its finger on the cultural pulse. This year, the world’s biggest indy film fete started to see a return to the pre-covid sales frenzy. Successful screenings included movies like “Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story” and “Will & Harper”which received an emotional standing ovation, while “A Real Pain” scored multimillion-dollar deals. Sundance is back to its exciting ways and hopefully sets the tone for this year’s screenings from LA to London.

66th Annual Grammy Awards

Moving into February, the vibe for the Grammy’s was all about record-breaking. From Taylor Swift’s fourth best album win to Billie Eilish’s 2nd Song of the Year Trophy, one stand out moment for us was Miley Cyrus’s impromptu sing-along and endearingly ‘real’ award acceptance. Loud and proud was also the theme for the awards activations, from the Recording Academy’s eclectic music festival to Mastercards fully planted secret garden and the Black Music Collective’s multi-demensional LED tunnel, this year was all about Gucci disco ball ceilings and giant branded boomboxes!

What’s next on the horizon? We’re looking forward to the BAFTA’s in the UK on the 18th February and of course, the 96th Academy Awards on the 10th March. Closing out the season, this year’s Oscars promise to be the most-watched yet, and we’ll be there celebrating with Disney Advertising Sales.

Pippa Laxton | Account Director

Like so many people, my career in events has been a roller-coaster of ups and downs, learning curves and cherished achievements, none more so than my time in Hong Kong where it all began.

I actually went to Hong Kong on a whim. Buying a one way ticket for £180 (an RAF flight from Dad), and running away from a broken relationship, I cried the entire thirteen hour flight. Arriving in a typhoon, my auspicious start went from bad to worse when I had my first shower from a plastic pipe out of a toilet cistern and went to sleep in a 16 person dorm on the sixteenth floor to the sound of rats scuttling around me.

Chung King Mansions was an interesting place, where every walk of life came and went 24/7 and my first job in Mad Dogs – a bar named after the famous Noel Coward song – did not fill me with enthusiasm. I hated the first three weeks but safe to say it knocked all the corners off me. 

Working in a bar was not my path and I could barely afford the £2.50 a night rent so when I was offered a job in a commodities futures trading company with Japanese style management, I took it! It was like working on Wall Street, high-pressured, but I thrived and even the Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Hong Kong Police Force became a client. Sadly I learned some investors were having complications exiting their funds. I immediately approached my clients to instruct them to withdraw their investments and i left the same day.

Back to the bar! But not for long this time. I then ran marketing for a local property contractor who wanted to expand into the international commercial real estate market and was subsequently headhunted by Savills. This was where, as Savills Marketing Director for 5 years, I discovered my passion for running events. At 27 I became engaged to my husband who I had met at the airport in Hong Kong 6 years before. At 29, heavily pregnant with the first of my 3 sons I resigned to set up my own events business. Savills were so supportive and they became my first client and outsourced their annual Rugby Charity event to me for more than a dozen years – along side loving playing rugby myself.

My client portfolio grew with a range of international brands including HSBC, JPMorgan, Philips and Morgan Stanley, running their events in Hong Kong. This growth lead to the opening of my second office in Singapore and a JV in Sydney.

I was lucky to have such a great business but the success came with some key learnings;

So what’s next? I moved back to the UK for my sons’ education and my husband’s work. I ran the business remotely for the next 3 years but the commute took its toll. Post covid, I wanted to get back into event management. The role with 2Heads was the first job that stood out for me – my first interview in the UK and hopefully the last I ever have to do! 

What would your advice be to a budding event manager? Always be authentic. Always listen. Always learn. Knowledge never ends, the Event Management business changes at lightning speed so it’s important to be able to adapt and pivot to new trends and behaviours.

About Pippa

Pippa is one of our senior Account Directors, an expert in planning and staging events across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the US. In recent years, Pippa has been instrumental in improving sustainability of her client events. Partnering with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the De Beers Group we have been responsible for winning multiple client awards for sustainable brand experience programmes and corporate social responsibility events.

2Heads counted down all the reasons 2023 has been our best year since the agency began back in 1983, and they are not always what you expect!

We Climbed Mountains

Twenty intrepid 2Headers took on the 24 hour three peaks challenge to raise over £15,000 for our 2023 charities; YoungMinds, Great Ormond Street and Freely Fruity.

We Turned 40

The agency celebrated it’s 40th birthday with a special party and retrospective on four decades of events and experiences.

We Launched Films

From London Screenings to the MIPCOM markets, we partnered with some of the best media brands in the world as they showcased their thrilling new content for 2024.

We Took to the Skies

Not literally, but figuratively as we partnered with aviation greats at this year’s airshows. From Paris Air Show to NBAA, and then over to Dubai Air Show , we used local suppliers to support our client’s vision for a more sustainable future.

We were Top 100 (again)

The whole team were thrilled to be recognised by EventMarketer’s Top 100 IT List of experiential agencies for the 2nd year running.

We Won Awards

The honors continued with acolades from EventMarketer & Campaign, including three silver Experience Design & Technology Awards for Best Consumer Environment, Best Sustainability Strategy and Best Tradeshow transformation for our clients Disney, De Beers and Sega respectively.

We counted Carbon

We rolled out use of the Trace and Event Decision carbon calculators across more events than ever, setting benchmarks for carbon tracking that support sustainability reports and strategies in line with our eco-conscious event agenda

We Got into Anime

We entered the exciting world of Anime, one of the world’s fastest growing content markets supported by some of the most enthusiastic fans. Partnering with new clients Sega and Hulu, we had a lot of fun bringing fan favourites to life.

We Made Some Cool S&*T

From launching Belden’s Customer Innovation Center’s around the world to creating parties for the Oscars, 2Heads had the best year creating amazing brand experiences and event activations. Our creative studio has generated some of the most fantastic work the agency has seen, every time evolving our live events, brand experience environments and innovation technologies.

We have the Best Clients #powerof2

Without doubt, the main reason 2023 has been not only successful but thoroughly enjoyable has been the wonderful clients we’ve partnered with. A massive thank you to our awesome clients all around the world for your energy, trust and enthusiasm. Here’s to a huge 2024!