The 2020 Summer Olympic Games will mark the 12thyear since the historic Olympic Torch Relay ceased to be an international affair. The last was for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, which boasted the “longest distance for an Olympic torch relay.” The journey to Beijing, China, lasted 130 days with almost 22,000 torchbearers covering 137,000 km. But, along the way, runners met political protests and demonstrations, despite the “Journey of Harmony” theme. It was these events that changed the course of the 70+ year tradition. But, make no mistake. The Olympic Torch Relay is as important – and as detailed – as ever.
While the 2020 Olympic Torch Relay will stay within the host country of Japan, it will still run a whopping 121 days. This is due to travel to 47 jurisdictions on its path to Tokyo. In preparation, much work will be done to plot the best route and choose the right torchbearers. Of the latter, it is said “many thousands” will be needed. And, their selection will follow “guidelines.” After all, they must personify the values of the Olympics. Organizers will then take actions to ensure consistency for the wardrobes and the messages of these people who act in support of the event’s theme. Since the brand ambassadors operate independently in their areas, the work can seem challenging for the organizing committee. This sentiment may be similar to those responsible for experiential staffing when activating events across borders. Yet, when following a scalable and strategic framework, stakeholders can prevail, no matter the distance.
The 4 Pillars of Experiential Staffing Across Borders
The people you choose to personify your brand will drive its success or lack thereof. And, this makes experiential staffing a top priority in planning and execution. When activating these events in several locations, and even internationally, staffing becomes increasingly complicated in maintaining a consistent message and to remain authentic. Use the four pillars below as your framework to arrive at your destination - successful international event staffing.
1. Central accountability
Choose one person to be accountable for the overall delivery of the campaign. The right person should be chosen on a best-fit basis. This should be based on his or her management and communication skills, as well as an understanding of experiential marketing and staffing. And, let us not forget the brand, its campaign, and goals – finding this person may be a tall order. But, in maintaining a point person to steer the activation, your primary and secondary markets can enjoy the benefit of coordinated search, selection, and training.
2. Local knowledge
A coordinated global approach makes sense from an efficiency perspective. But it’s the local application and delivery that drives effectiveness, since each market may have a distinct set of obstacles to navigate. This makes individuals with knowledge of how to jump through the local hoops necessary for the best planning and execution of each activation.
3. Cross-territory cultural understanding
Cross-territory campaigns are less effective when using a myopic “one-size-fits-all” solution. Each area will likely have its own customs and values. And, this makes it critical that brand ambassadors understand those nuances to make emotional connections. In fact, the global brand experience is best achieved when, again, tackling each activation at a local level. Choose experiential staff according to each market and train them based on the specifics of their host location to improve ROI.
4. Established staffing networks
Having a roster of already-vetted prime candidates makes it easier to tackle any staffing need. You know these individuals and can easily determine if they fit the brand. It only becomes a matter of requalifying and then matching them to the campaign. Yet, when establishing staffing networks, it’s important to keep an emphasis on quality over quantity.
The problem is, unless brands have often conducted global experiential events or have other brands’ networks to draw from, quality connections don’t come easy. That’s why most brands rely on an experiential staffing agency. The right agency can be an entire solution for experiential staffing across borders, carrying the torch from start to finish. This not only saves invaluable time and resources along the way. Having a global staffing partner ensures the agency understands what success looks like across borders and how to achieve it.
The Best Experiential Staffing Agency for the Win
Experiential staffing across borders comes with diverse challenges. An experiential staffing agency may claim to love such challenge. But, how do you know if their team is up to it? Your answer is in finding out if their capabilities are built on the four pillars.
Case in Point: Yahoo! European Roadshow
The web services and content provider activated a six-week mobile entertainment tour. It crossed France, Germany, Italy, and Spain and ended at London’s Wireless Festival. Elevate Staffing, which has multiple European offices, provided experiential staffing services. This gave personnel local knowledge of the targeted areas to be most effective in planning and to mitigate issues.
To ensure a coordinated effort, Elevate hired a tour manager and tour assistant for central accountability. These individuals were fluent in four languages and oversaw the campaign, ensuring consistency in presence and messages, no matter the location. Elevate then screened brand ambassadors from its established staffing networks to select the best in six European cities. These individuals would engage consumers to share entertaining content. This required them to have cultural understanding to allow residents to relate to Yahoo. And, the strategy and expertise paid off, resulting in thousands of posts on social networks to extend the campaign’s reach.
The example demonstrates the complexity of experiential staffing for international initiatives. But complex domestic campaigns also bring challenges. Consider the Stillhouse Tailgate Tour. The interactive mobile tailgate experience touched 131 events across 13,000 U.S. miles. The goal was to make football fans aware of the American whiskey brand. This meant brand ambassadors not only needed be outgoing to interact with consumers in seven markets. They needed liquor sampling and sales experience, as well as the necessary certifications.
In short, both campaigns show the need for an experiential staffing agency with an established presence in the area. It’s necessary to ensure an understanding of the requirements, permitting experiential events to go off without a hitch. Plus, it almost guarantees experienced brand ambassadors and other event staff in the locale. It's the proven abilities of the agency and all its people that help ensure your brand’s success, allowing it to bring home the gold every time.
At Elevate, we're the only truly global event staffing agency around. With offices in the U.S. and Europe, we source the best experiential staff in any global market every day, serving as the pillar to the best brand activations.