On November 8, 2018, at the offices of sister agency Argonaut in San Francisco, George P. Johnson CEO Chris Meyer moderated a future-forward conversation with some of GPJs top clients entitled “What’s Next in Experiential Marketing.” Produced together with Project Worldwide, GPJ shared insights and expertise with leading marketers and clients from all over the Bay Area.

We’re happy to share highlights from the discussion below, you can also watch the full video at the end for more.

What’s Next in Experiential Marketing

Chris Meyer, CEO, George P. Johnson

Context for why experiential marketing works so well:

The 4th industrial revolution is bringing digital, physical, and biological systems together.

Changes in our world and in our society are leading to a need for more human connections.

New technologies are first and foremost tools made by people for people.

As brands continue to evolve, experiential marketing is fast becoming the secret weapon for marketers.

How GPJ will continue to lead in the experiential agency world:

Human focus: Keeping our experiences focused on people, not places or things.

Experience Design: Sweating the big stuff – and the small stuff – to ensure relevance and consistency across all experience touch points.

Digital Fluidity: removing digital as a prop or a tactic – and using it as the invisible connective tissue binding our client’s audiences.

Impact: Beyond the bottom line, the role and responsibility our industry has in improving and celebrating the communities we work in.


Why Experiential Matters – Connecting Hearts and Minds 

Alex Sapiz, VP, Global Events, Cisco

“Cisco has always been about connections,” says Alex Sapiz. “Our job is to bring people together in extraordinary ways.”

GSX is Cisco’s annual sales meeting. It’s about bringing the shared values of Cisco to the forefront, and inspiring sellers for the year ahead. It’s important to align them with the future direction of the company, inspire and motivate them through content and experiences.

In 2009, Cisco decided to produce the event as a hybrid meeting/part virtual. For five years the event was produced this way. They learned that the hybrid model had a lot of great benefits. It won awards. It was innovative and new. However…

The model proved that content was being delivered and people were being trained, but at the end of the day, they were hitting the brains but not accessing the heart. They realized that the only way to bring that content to life, to execute in the right way, required bringing people together. Since then, they’ve done so, with amazing results.

One attendee was quoted: “It was the most incredible experience ever. I fell in love with Cisco again and I will do my very best every day to live to the expectation of our stakeholders, and leadership team.” This is the type of stuff that Cisco was looking for, the word “love” in a survey.

Digital is still infused into everything about the event, and it’s also broadcast to people who can’t be at the event.

When connecting the values of the Cisco brand with the sellers, to inspire and motivate them, it’s about a higher purpose. Cisco believes they can connect and enable people, communities, countries, and use its technology to improve the world. When their employees are connected to that mission, they bring more effort to their jobs and they stay with Cisco longer. Everybody wins when those connections take place.


How Salesforce and Dreamforce Design Experiences for Business Impact 

Colin Fleming, Senior Vice President – Brand, Creative, and Cross-Product Marketing, Salesforce

Dreamforce is a celebration of Trailblazers, and the annual report card for the Salesforce brand, for their marketing, product, and sales organizations.

There is no delineation between an event and the company, they are one. Dreamforce IS Salesforce, Salesforce IS Dreamforce.

Salesforce has a fundamental belief that the business of business is to make the world a better place. To leave the world in a better place, and to ultimately be the greatest platform for change possible. They do that through four core values, which govern every decision made inside the organization: Trust, Customer Success, Innovation and Equality.

Dreamforce is therefore also driven by those 4 core values, but they also add Inspiration and Fun into the mix.

Inspiration: There’s something there for everyone, and inspirational activations don’t have to be one-dimensional. That’s why at Dreamforce, sessions about new products are interspersed with things like mindfulness walks with monks, keynotes from world leaders about larger issues, and the ability to volunteer on site and learn about nonprofits.

Customer Success: It’s everywhere at Dreamforce, with success stories highlighted in fun ways. They invite customers to come share their own stories, which becomes a co-creation cycle between brand and consumer.

Innovation:  Attendees are able to get their hands on the latest cutting edge tech in ways that are approachable and friendly.

Equality: It’s on everyone’s mind. At Dreamforce, they talk about it. It’s at the center of the conversation each day. In fact, 1/3 of the primary keynote is focused on equality.

Fun: We transform the city into a national park, with climbing walls, 2 1/2 story waterfalls, and fun characters. One attendee said: “Dreamforce for me is not a conference, it’s a family reunion.” That’s why GPJ transforms it into a themed experience, to facilitate more of those kinds of connections.

As the world’s largest software conference with 170k registered attendees, space is an issue, so they’ve been adding more and more online content, and now have a global online audience of more than 13 million over the 4 days of the conference.