• Edena Klimenti

2020: The Year of Virtual Events & "Lockdown Productions"

Producers and event organisers are starting to prove the sceptics that online events can be so much more than just awkward zoom meetings.

Balmain Fashion Spring 2021 front row, featuring Anna Wintour and J-Lo

At the beginning of the year, we all had to pivot and embrace digital solutions, whether we liked it or not. It started with the endless zoom meetings, and bad connection conference calls.

There was a time where we’d spend the first 20 minutes of our virtual events trying to sort out bad internet connection and malfunctioning laptops: “Can you hear me?” “Am I still on mute? “I don’t think you can see me” “I think your internet is down”

But once we gave into the idea that the only way to stay productive and keep connected with our colleagues, business partners and prospective clients was online, it changed the virtual game entirely.

A sector that has proven to be agile and innovative is the fashion industry. From the way it brings celebrities to the front row, or allows consumers to shop online straight from a live fashion show, the world of fashion is always one step ahead of the game.

And then there's of course the prime time entertainment industry. At Zena Media we are impressed with how big shows around the world, such as America's Got Talent or The Kelly Clarkson show, are presenting their virtual audiences.

Of course, their production budgets will be significant, but even if that's out of reach for most brands, we should still look at them for inspiration as to how things can be done.

The Kelly Clarkson show's virtual audience
America's Got Talent's impressive online audience turnout

And the business community is not far behind!

We're seeing global brands move their long-awaited annual conferences to an online platform, reaching audiences in an entirely new way, including the annual Apple Worldwide Developer Conference, Microsoft's Developer Conference (Microsoft Build 2020), and even F8, Facebook's annual conference.

And they are truly starting to be elaborate events, that are starting to look like the "real deal".

Look at this virtual entrance hall for the Global HealthTech Summit 2020 for example, a much snazzier waiting room than the ones we are used to:

At Zena Media, we've had the pleasure of working on a number of different virtual events; from global productions, to smaller scale conversation hubs!

CNBC Catalyst X VM WARE "Faster to the Future"

Our Head Of Content, Lea Jakobiak, helped produce the incredible CNBC Catalyst & VMWARE online event, Faster to the Future, focusing on bringing together the most progressive minds in tech and business in APAC!

This meant producing and editing everything remotely, filming all contributors from their homes, no matter where they were in the world. Lea filmed Pat Gelsinger, the CEO of VMware, in his home at 2am UK time - 6pm his time!

Watch the full show here:

CNBC Catalyst X IDA Ireland, "Green Light For Business"

Likewise, Lea Jakobiak helped bring IDA Ireland's online special, Green Light For Business, to life as a Producer for CNBC Catalyst. The The 4 part series looks at business resilience, innovation, talent and partnerships are the pillars for Ireland’s success as a business hub.

The CNBC London studio behind the scenes

Watch the full show here:

One Loud Voice: Equality in a post-Covid world, a step back or a step forward?

We also produced several 'conversation hubs' for smaller brands, ranging on topics from digital art, to equality in the workplace, proving that even when kept simple, online events can be effective.

So, where do we go from here? Will we revert back to in-person events, or are these online events here to stay? There are many talks about 'hybrid' events, which will be part virtual/ part online.

But one thing is certain, the production and event industries will adapt and help connect brands with their consumers, businesses with their stakeholders, and people with their friends and family, by using technology, innovation and creativity.

Watch this space!