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November 3, 2006

VENUE vs BRAND: Vauxhall sees double

“Finding the appropriate venue to fit your client’s brand is essential, but it’s not rocket science, and if you know your client’s brand values inside out – which you should – then you will know what to look for,” says Nigel Lloyd Jones, group account director at experiential communications agency PCI Fitch. “What we try to do is find the newest most original venues to give each event a real freshness and element of surprise.”
Nigel has been working on the pan-European dealer and fleet launches for General Motors Europe for 20 years now and has just completed the new Vauxhall Corsa and Antara car launches.

“We held it in Austria primarily for pragmatic reasons,” Lloyd Jones explains. “We had delegates coming from across the continent and this was an accessible, central location.”
However, the event also had to fit not only one product, but two – the established Corsa and new model Antara.
“Just like General Motors Europe, Austria is going through a transition,” says Lloyd Jones. “Perception of the country is shifting from it being remembered for the location of The Sound of Music to being the home of Red Bull. So we used venues that debunk the traditional, staid perception of the country.”
The first venue chosen was Terminal 2 at Salzburg airport. It’s used during the winter months to handle the extra ski tourism traffic, but vacant during spring and summer.
“It’s a beautifully designed modern building, which we clearly branded for Corsa, and delegates could literally fly in, disembarking right outside the venue,” explains Lloyd Jones. “It was also fantastic advertising for GM Austria, as the clear Corsa branding on the exterior of the building was visible to every plane that landed at the airport for a month!”
Next, delegates drove the new Corsa to the Scalaria, on the banks of the stunning Wolfsgansee Lake.
“The hotel was purpose-built for events and is very contemporary – fitting with the brand experience we wanted to create – but nestled in classic Austrian countryside,” says Lloyd Jones.
However, approach roads were limited and the agency had to get 125 cars there at once.
“We solved the problem by using a car park across the lake and boating the delegates in,” reveals Lloyd Jones. “It added to the surprise factor, and delegates got the full force of contemporary Austria against a traditional backdrop.”
The third venue, which was used to launch the Antara (a new 4x4 for the modern urbanite) on the second day of the event, was Gusswerk – an ex-bell foundry converted to an events facility.
“It’s highly contemporary, with a really funky feel, and is surrounded by a community of designers, architects and fashion houses, creating an urban warehouse apartment feel,” says Lloyd Jones.  “It was just the kind of place that the target audience for the Antara might live and work.”
Finally delegates were coached to the modern and beautifully designed MB2 restaurant adjacent to the museum of modern at in Salzberg.
All very impressive, but what did General Motors Europe think? Well Olivier Danan, director brand communications, was clearly delighted, commenting: “This is by far the best, most creative and most integrated communication launch we have ever had.” Job done!

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