The team at e=mc2 events landed a dream event when their client came to them with dreams of their own. Ones that would immediately set their minds spinning with imagination and big, bold, out-of-the-box ideas. This wasn’t just any client, this group of disruptors was charged up and looking for a partner to build a conference as no one had ever seen before. Every action, every movement, every creation was breaking down walls and building new frontiers. As any good planner would do, the team took great care and time to get into the heads and hearts of the instigators at Energy Disruptors Unite and dive into their strategies; to understand the purpose behind each speaker, industry, and sponsor so that they were building a program that would resonate.
Energy Disruptors Unite (EDU) was created alongside a massive provincial recession, so while it seemed bold to some, to locally-based e=mc2 it was exciting to be part of this global movement, to create and produce something that will change the world.
The very first Energy Disruptors Unite took place over two days in May with a bold ambition: to accelerate pragmatic and profitable solutions to the world’s most significant energy challenges by igniting a global movement of game-changing energy technologies. The project united over 1500 participants including 200 VIPs at The Big Four on Stampede Park to rally together to ignite a global movement.
This collaborative movement founded by three risk-taking instigators offered education presented via curated main stage keynotes and panels, disruptive conversations in breakouts and an innovative and energized networking space.
No change comes without discomfort and this experience was proof of that. The educational program was diverse and intense with speakers talking about managing the change, moving it forward and inspiring people to ignite action. It was clear that this content would not only provide thought-provoking content but at the same time, the disruption attendees would become a part of would be uncomfortable. e=mc2’s creative team saw this as an opportunity to create an environment that spoke to human ingenuity and technology and placed a focus on the diverse delegate experience during the two days.
Technology has a place at events, as a tool for human-to-human interactions, not just because it’s new and shiny and stepping into the shoes of guests is the best medium for successful experiences that matter. That philosophy led them to create an analog stage design reflected in massive metallic spheres, along with a custom soundtrack, curated scents, and expert programming to truly create an experience attendees have never seen before.
A creative networking/ trade show area called “Collision Hub” hosted guests in innovative and strategically crafted sponsor activations, designed to showcase brands involved in the energy movement. To maximize sponsor value through interaction rather than in “booths” the e=mc2 team worked with multiple brands to customize how attendees would act and interact in their space. The vision was that attendees would engage with each other and the sponsors in an unstructured collaborative environment.
“We created a space of play and comfort a lounge where guests could recharge their technology while recharging themselves. Charging stations, a hammock hub, spa water, and energy balls drew guests to interact within the brand.”
Keri Miller, e=mc2 events
Sponsors included ATB Financial, Tesla, Shell, IBM and Calgary Economic Development, EY and Enmax. For EY, the goal was to provide an environment where guests would linger long enough to meet with their team and to show their innovative strengths while giving guests comfort amongst the disruption. In essence, space where one could cancel out the noise and discomfort of some of the content in a safe environment.
e=mc2 created a space for them that included an EY branded and identifiable location with a 60′ diameter EY carpet and multiple entry points to a central hub where a traditional candy bar was set within touchscreen demo stations. Hanging above them were three tilted screens, surrounding them were various seating options including, inflatable chairs, bean bags, and rocking chairs all focused upward. guests were provided noise-cancelling earphones for the main stage live feed as well as EY custom branded content fed to the headphones during breaks, along with music and announcements.
The other example of event strategy was Enmax, a consistent and trusted partner in energy that wanted to support their position as a friendly face amongst the disruption. Enmax is a utility provider and a brand that is over 100 years old. It has a reputation for being traditional and a bit expected. The team quickly identified with this and used it to their advantage. Using the tagline “Disruption requires energy, ” Keri and the client, alongside design partner Stefani Dunn from Decor and More Inc created a space that focused on Enmax as the core of connection and energy. It was a lounge of connection and comfort with digital trees displaying playful, disruptive content, seating areas that included “people-powered” teeter-totters and hammock swings and a spa water and energy ball station.
To fully promote them as a connecting sponsor, over 40 co-branded tabletop phone chargers were distributed in the Collision Hub, in the VIP lounge and in speaker rooms and small branded “check out” mini chargers could be borrowed. In a radical departure from conservatism, they broke free from their main brand and pantones, selecting their ancillary pastel and friendly shades to create a playful, comfortable networking lounge where many business deals were made and connections happened.
The main stage changed multiple times in the design process. After many iterations, the design team of Keri, Stefani Dunn at Decor & More and Andrew at E3 Production + Event Services and Curtain Call landed on a simple layout with disruptive, analog components with great lighting and transformative seating for panels.
The string installation on the stage was designed for speakers to walk through and for site lines to be skewed and different in each session, panel seating was moved on stage by dancers for each discussion, local entertainers provided musical entertainment and the stage graphics provided excellent eye candy for cameras. 6 giant reflective balls were shuffled around and placed in positions where guests could see their reflection, symbolically seeing themselves as catalysts for change.
The featured main entrance wall was developed with the securing of the Roborace car, the fully autonomous race car! The goal was to create an impact upon entry to the conference, providing a cool digital experience for attendees to use as a shareable location while enhancing the car right beside it.
The event held all the typical elements and did not overkill in technology to take away from the actual content. Integrating the Collision Hub and the main stage environment had its challenges, but the holistic approach to always having access to the speaker content no matter where you were in the space was key to keeping the energy up and the purpose of collisions and disruption top of mind. The sponsors were given activation opportunities that allowed for real connections and conversations and the attendees are still talking about the movement.
The speaker content was curated by the client and handled carefully and the panels were created so purposefully that it provided an opportunity for everyone to feel as though their voice was being heard and debated.
The host, Holly Ransom was brilliant and knowledgeable while being humble, witty and engaged. She is youthful and vibrant and female leading tough conversations about a previously male-dominated environment. The client’s goal from the very beginning of the process, and before it was “expected” focused on an equal amount of male and female on stage.
Many things set this conference apart, the content, the creativity, and the message, but according to Miller, “we think what mattered was that the instigators, our clients knew what their objective was. They were firm and unafraid and stayed true to their vision. They were the risk-takers, they reported to no one and therefore could build a disruptive change-making conference their way. They allowed us to do what we do best, trusting us every step of the way, something we will rally again to do in 2019 when Energy Disruptors Unite takes on the world again”.
About the planners: Since 2001, e=mc2 events have led the production of an extensive portfolio of fundraising galas, awards banquets, product launches, conferences, exhibitions, company openings, and other high-profile events. With offices in Vancouver and Toronto and our head office in Calgary, e=mc2 events are considered one of the leading conference and event management companies in Canada. Visit www.emc2events.com to view more.