by H. K. Wilson
On April 29 and 30, the Experiential Designers and Producers Association, SoCal chapter, co-hosted the First Annual SoCal Randy Smith Memorial Golf Classic in conjunction with its chapter meeting in Irvine, Calif. The tournament was originally instituted in 1995 after the tragic death of a beloved industry colleague, Randy Smith, in an auto accident. More than 50 industry professionals, including golfers, sponsors and volunteers, came from as far away as Florida to participate in the RSMGC, an initiative that has raised more than $1.5 million and assisted more than 200 industry families in need over the past 25 years.
Randy’s son, Austin Smith, was present at the April event. He said, “This means a lot to my family. My dad was passionate about helping other people, and he would have been very impressed to see his legacy carried on through helping other people. I hope to see this become an annual event here on the West Coast.”
The tournament took place at Strawberry Farms Golf Club in Irvine. Nestled among the picturesque canyons and wetlands of Orange County, golfers were expecting sunny California skies, but the morning began at 8 a.m. with a light drizzle that turned to full rain by mid-morning. Undaunted, the participants played through all 18 holes and reconvened in the afternoon for lunch, prizes and fellowship in the clubhouse.
1st Place Team
Robert Laarhoven, beMatrix USA
John Kerrigan, Super Color Digital
Antonia Nuzzolo, Eagle Management
2nd Place Team
Jose Lopez, AFR Furniture Rental
David King, Willwork
Other awards included Jonathan Paul and Scott Sokol, Coastal International, for Closest to the Pin; Scott Rea, Exhibitree, and Antonia Nuzzolo, Eagle Management, for Longest Drive; and Grady Funk, Skyline Orange County, for Longest Putt.
Jim Wurm, RSMGC organizer and executive director of the Exhibitor Appointed Contractor Association, says, “This first year event was inspired by Jim Genzano of Sho-Link, who reached out to say that there are many supporters of the RSMGC mission that can’t make it to other Randy events, especially the big one in Atlanta, but would like to support the cause. Great thanks goes out to Jim, Vince Battaglia with the SoCal EDPA chapter, and all those who helped make this event possible. Our industry has many colleagues who are struggling, and we are proud to be able to offer them financial and emotional support in their time of need.”
Connecting Through Experience
The camaraderie inspired by the RSMGC was a fitting segue to Tuesday’s EDPA SoCal chapter meeting, which featured speakers Dasher Lowe (pictured right), EDPA executive director, and Eddie Newquist, GES creative executive, who discussed ways creative professionals can turn experiential design into new profit centers.
Lowe focused on EDPA’s mission of promoting connection and collaboration in the industry with an eye to helping design professionals deliver an elevated product to clients. “Our job is no longer about selling, it’s about how to connect a client’s brand with an experience,” he said. “Consumers want deeper relationships with brands, and they want to connect in more personal ways.”
By linking the word “experiential” with concepts like holistic, real-time, memorable and non-traditional, Lowe demonstrated that there are no limits on what designers can imagine and create with clients. He presented a series of case studies that illustrated ways in which brands have successfully connected with consumers through experience. Among them, the SC Johnson Museum of Feelings, a temporary exhibit set up in 2015 just two blocks from the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, that allowed people to experience the company’s Glade candles in a whole new way. Visitors entered a fully immersive sensory exhibition with rooms themed to scent-induced emotions like “Optimistic,” “Joyful” and “Calm.”
A video of the event, available on YouTube, poses the question, “Can a $4 candle inspire people’s feelings?” The answer is yes, since visitors waited in line for more than four hours to enter, millions shared their experiences on social media, and the museum earned nearly one billion media impressions. See the video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6_TllTf7-A.
Lowe ended with Maya Angelou’s famous quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
“Creating a memorable experience fits every area of the marketing funnel, including awareness, interest, desire and action,” he said. “We need to understand what problem a business is trying to solve, and become indispensable partners in helping them connect with consumers.”
Newquist (pictured left) is a globally recognized creator in the film, entertainment and exhibitor industries, and his clients are among the world’s most innovative companies, including Disney and Universal. He urged designers to perfect the art storytelling. “Become a better storyteller. What we’re trying to do is help brands tell a story, and the best companies can tell their story in under a minute.”
According to Newquist, two books as required reading for creative professionals who want to hone their storytelling skills: “The Experience Economy,” by James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine; and “The Hero With a Thousand Faces,” by Joseph Campbell.
Newquist outlined a number of elements that will help creatives tell a client’s story effectively:
Tell one story at a time.
Build buzz with a shareable experience.
Don’t sell — tell a story.
Don’t exhibit — celebrate.
Don’t display — engage.
His advice for a successful client pitch? “Start with a blank piece of paper, and follow the idea from beginning to end. Think about what that partner will be doing in six months or a year. Think forward rather than waiting for them to release an RFP. Get ahead of it, and give them ideas.”
He also urged professionals to be transparent about the numbers. “Understand your client’s budget to make sure you can deliver on the idea. Then, be specific about dollars, dates and deliverables.”
Newquist’s bottom line: “Be extraordinary!”
EDPA SoCal President and owner of The Tradeshow Calendar, Vince Battaglia, summed up the impact of the two-day experience: “Our goal is to build a vibrant and engaged association for tradeshow professionals in Southern California, and we were thrilled with the success of both the Randy Smith Golf Classic in SoCal and our meeting on experiential design. Many of our attendees made a point of telling us that our speakers were exceptional, and the content of the meeting was extremely valuable to their businesses. The experiential design meeting will continue to be an annual event among our quarterly educational offerings.” (Pictured L-R: Randy Boi Smit, Eddie Newquist, Steve Riches, Vince Battaglia and Scott Sokol)
This story originally appeared in the July/August issue of Exhibit City News, p. 64. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecnflipbook_julyaugust_2019_web