Nadine Susel | Senior Account Director

C2 touched down last week in the Grand Quay of the Old Port of Montreal – much to the delight of thought leaders, rainmakers and event magicians from across North America. But what it is about this conference that causes Creative Avengers to Assemble with such caffeine-fueled enthusiasm? 

It starts with the programme – three days, three topics, multiple sessions per day – a “choose your own adventure” format that very much appeals to a deadline centric audience.  

Day 1: Experiential + Immersive  

Day 2: Innovation + Sustainability 

Day 3: AI + Commerce 

Now listen, I could write an entire dissertation about the topics covered at C2. Everything from defamiliarization to sustainable agriculture – psychographics to bias in machine learning was discussed. But your time is precious dear reader, and today I’m going to focus on the one burning question that came up repeatedly in every session: 

What’s Next? 

From the world of experiential, it is the rise of fandom-focused brand activations – creating the right conditions for an invested audience to contribute to a specific moment in time. Pause here for a moment, because if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it did it really make a sound? This is where the all-powerful (and much debated) infinity gauntlet that is AI enters the chat. 

Disclaimer: discussing AI can cause flashes of a dystopian future where machine learning has taken over, and Keanu Reeves is our only hope of salvation. But take a deep breath and hear me out – it’s not as scary as it sounds. 

How many of you have captured metrics and KPIs from your events, only to have them filed away in a shared drive as a poorly formatted Google Sheet? More recently how many of you have said “we should integrate AI” (presumably in a professional setting) without fully understanding how it can actually add value? Most importantly, how do you connect with your audience, inspiring them to break their routines and invest in your activation? 

AI has been around since the 1950s, but the rise of data technologies has made it easier than ever to gather, store and analyze massive datasets. Training AI models has enabled us to “build a better mousetrap” – that is to say learn from ourselves and the world around us at lightning speed. Apply this to your event strategy and you have one heck of a pressure cooker for innovation.  

Let’s get back to real life applications, shall we? If you design an experience with very clear KPIs, and then sprinkle some AI stardust on your event strategy – you will have created an experience fueled by the energy of your audience. For example, if you’re designing an activation for the Olympic Games in Paris this July, where merch sales and fan engagement are your measures of success, you can use AI to incentivize engagement (Nike recently co-created 13 pairs of AI-generated sneakers with 40 world-class athletes in a buildup to the Games). By creating a compelling campaign, fans are encouraged to provide personal details (image, age, interest) to receive a personalized output (personalized artwork, merchandise and social media content) and in turn providing you (the architect) with a volume of data that AI can then analyze for consumer engagement trends. Ex “guests ages 40+ were 3x more likely to customize their own sneakers than to create a generative AI Athlete version of themselves running track” 

The only limit is input – how can you phrase your question correctly to get the desired output? This specific language has become a coveted skillset that goes far beyond asking ChatGPT for a weekend itinerary in Monaco.  

Like I said – I could go on for ages – but believe me when I say that C2 Montreal is a fantastic opportunity to network and be inspired, in a city characterized by its love of thinking outside the box. So what’s next? It is a dialogue between creators and consumers that transcends transaction to focus on relationships. Storytelling that builds spontaneously on a diverse set of narratives – where we continuously learn to speak the language of our audience in order to generate better content that continues to increase value over time.  

Garbage in, garbage out – but fine-tuned automated data entry combined with machine learning? Now that’s something I want to know more about! 
This your last chance. After this there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. – Morpheus