Don Freeman continues to build on a legacy of innovation in the brand experience category
Since 1927, Freeman has been growing, evolving, and transforming the live events industry in meaningful and measurable ways. Now celebrating its 90th anniversary, Freeman – the leading global provider of brand experiences – is continuing to build markets, connect people, support growth, and generate revenues for the world’s leading organizations.
“Our 90th anniversary isn’t just about looking back on where we’ve been; it’s about where we’re going, and how, on behalf of our clients, we are transforming our business and the industry as a whole,” said Carrie Freeman Parsons, vice chair of Freeman. “Our success was built on the relationships we’ve had and continue to have with our clients and partners, and those relationships have built us up, defined us, and given us the license to challenge, define, and innovate our industry. We are tremendously grateful for our clients all over the world – it is because of their steadfast loyalty and trust that we are able to lead such transformative change.”
This year, Freeman is also recognizing the 40th anniversary of its highly esteemed chairman.
“Don Freeman is the reason we have been so successful over the last 40 years,” said Joe Popolo, CEO of Freeman. “Under Don’s leadership, from the time he succeeded his father, Buck Freeman, in 1977, to when he passed the torch to me in 2008, Don grew the business over 6,000 percent. We all owe him an immense debt of gratitude for building on Buck Freeman’s legacy and guiding the transformation of Freeman into the global leader we are today.”
Freeman has set a strategic road map that will guide the future of the company and the industry. This strategy is a focused effort to help the industry evolve by identifying future trends in technology, content, and human behavior in order to evolve to meet the changing demand of societies and businesses.
“We have the ability to connect people, organizations, and cultures in ways that create massive positive change on a global scale,” said Bob Priest-Heck, president of Freeman. “The work we have done to reinvent our company and design our future will create new worlds of engagement where brands come to life and experience what is next.”
Over its 90-year history, the undying commitment of Freeman employees has always been a constant. As part of its strategic vision, the company is poised to build on its reputation as the premier place for industry talent.
“The people and culture of Freeman are at the heart of our company’s legacy and, without question, are our greatest assets,” said Albert Chew, COO of Freeman and president of Freeman Expositions. “More than 8,000 employees around the world proudly deliver on our mission of connecting people in meaningful ways every day, while exemplifying our values of integrity, empathy, innovation, enthusiasm, performance excellence, and collaboration.”
With its strategy in place, Freeman has already launched several key initiatives that will drive the future of the category.
Make It Personal: As Freeman looks ahead, the company is placing a good deal of stock in what many see as the future of brand experiences: mass personalization. Less a trend than a total reevaluation of the marketing discipline, personalization is driven by the idea that audiences can no longer be broadly defined by a set of shared attributes or values.
“Data is providing us with insights that allow us to personalize the experience, creating deeper, more meaningful connections,” said Chris Cavanaugh, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Freeman. “It starts with putting the audience at the center of the proposition, using empathy and insights to understand what they want and need, and then creating a personalized experience that delivers without being intrusive.”
Freeman is exploring new ways to leverage data and technology to design environments and make the storytelling process more responsive to allow consumers to control their own experiences.
Redefining the Future of Events: Big Data is continuing to play an enormous role in all facets of business. By defining scientific and social trends and emotional and spiritual touch points, Freeman’s future outlook approach focuses on insights and three proprietary tools that will shape the future of events from the inside out.
Global Trends: The Freeman Global Trend Navigator was developed with information collected from workshops, interviews, and studies, which summarized and distilled the findings into eight macro trends: Glocalization, New Models, Digital Transformation, Global Citizens, Everybody Is a Creative, Betterness, Intelligent Reduction, and Economics for Humans.
Trend Compass: Freeman created a tool that allows its people to apply trend knowledge to ongoing strategic work. With four main categories – people, profit, planet, and purpose – the Trend Compass acts as an index that assists with qualitative evaluation of the relevance and integration of the eight macro trends in a local context.
Scenario Creating: The visualization and contextualization of the future into four global scenarios (Bigger by Design, Info Revolution, The Creativity Lab, and The Individual Experience) allows participants to consider global trends on a more human scale – and how macro trends will play out alongside more detailed, micro trends such as technology, hyper-personalization, and emerging markets.
Accelerating Technology: After a strong year of acquisitions to grow its digital capabilities, Freeman has continued to bolster its digital portfolio with Freeman Digital Ventures, a fund that is set up to accelerate innovation and provide investments and partnerships that support the increasing impact technology and digital advances are making in the brand experience category.
“The market is becoming increasingly sophisticated,” said Richard Maranville, executive vice president and chief digital officer of Freeman. “There is a growing demand for cutting-edge technology that takes audience interaction to the next level. As the global leader in the category, we are uniquely positioned to develop digital solutions that improve audience experience and drive the future of the industry.”
Virtual reality, in particular, has caught the attention of the category as a whole. From live streaming brand experiences to immersive storytelling to designing the interactive, in-person experience, Freeman’s VR products and services will push the boundaries of brand experiences.
The future is proving to be an inspiring theme for Freeman, especially during a year of such historic significance.
“Even with this tremendous milestone upon us, there’s always been a sense that we at Freeman are a young, energetic company,” said Popolo. “As Don Freeman has said, ‘We’re a 90-year-old startup.’ We may be the global leader in our category, but we have the energy, enthusiasm, and the agility that allows us to keep looking forward and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in our industry.”
From a humble decorating company in the 1920s to servicing trade shows, conferences, and events worldwide, Freeman is positioned to lead the brand experience category as the need for personal relationships in an increasingly cluttered landscape is more important than ever before for brands. To learn more about how Freeman is redefining brand experiences, visit www.freeman.com.