Event Marketing Stories: Events Gone Wrong (and the Heroes Who Saved Them)

event marketing stories

A forklift destroys the stage. Your teleprompter crashes. Crucial tech doesn’t show up. The unpredictability that makes events exciting also makes them prone to catastrophe. We asked seasoned experts to share their most gripping event marketing stories — and the heroic responses that saved the day. Heed their advice, and you too can be the superhero when it all goes south.

Respond in a Flash

Group Delphi threw a spaceship unveiling party for Virgin Galactic, turning a patch of the Mojave desert into a space station from Sir Richard Branson’s dreams. Hosting 800 A-list guests, the scene looked like a set from “The Martian.”

“The similarity became uncanny when 110-mph winds descended on the desert, sending our space structures sailing,” said Justin Hersh, Delphi CEO. “Thankfully, at that point they were empty. Our team, who was monitoring the weather, evacuated everyone to their hotels before the storm hit.”

Rapid response isn’t just about saving face. Sometimes it means saving lives.

Fight Until the Battle’s Won

Rose Faler arrived in Abu Dhabi days before a big event and was surprised to find her exhibit set up on the sand outside the event space. “Don’t worry,” she was told. “It only rains here a few days per year.”

“You can probably guess when the next rainstorm came,” she said. “I arrived onsite the next morning to discover that our exhibit was a swamp. With the event just 24 hours away, we strapped on our work gloves. Delaminated pieces were relaminated, stained pieces painted, wet furniture dried, destroyed stands rebuilt. By showtime, the experience looked sublime and the client was thrilled.”

Sometimes heroism is simply a commitment to getting the job done … no matter what.

Partner with Excellent Sidekicks

When a vital piece of tech went missing, one dedicated experiential marketing specialist (who asked us not to reveal her alter ego) took matters into her own hands.

“We were installing a complex, multiple-monitor array for the grand opening of a briefing center in China. We built the system in the U.S. before shipping it over, but when we arrived in China the monitors didn’t!”

With the clock ticking, one of Delphi’s local partners purchased new monitors. The problem: the show site was located in a free-trade zone. They’d have to bus them into the FTZ one at a time — without getting caught.

“When the driver took a smoke break, we tiptoed onto the bus with the first 84-inch display. Once onboard, we used other passengers’ jackets as cloaking devices to hide the evidence from the inspecting guard!”

Two tense bus rides later, the monitors were installed and the event was a success.

Crime doesn’t pay — but working with great partners does.

Want more riveting event marketing stories — plus vital tools you’ll need to save the day?

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