#MARKiesAwards 2021 case study: Lenovo SG bets on hybrid event to maintain brand awareness

The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in the plans of companies that relied on physical events to engage with consumers and business partners. When Singapore came out of circuit breaker and relaxed its rules, Lenovo Singapore deliberated on whether to hold a physical event.

The virtual fatigue has caused several business partners and media friends to communicate to the brand that they missed physical engagements. After some deliberation, the brand decided to take a leap of faith and worked with its agency WE Communications Singapore to launch the Lenovo eXperiential Day. This event saw the brand being listed as a finalist for Most Creative – Event (Physical/Virtual) at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's recent MARKies Awards 2021.

Challenge

Consumers always love first-hand physical experiences when it comes to technology and gadgets. However, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in physical engagements being cancelled and Lenovo Singapore saw the need to pivot to virtual engagements to continue engaging with business partners, media friends and consumers. That said, face-to-face engagements remained the preferred mode of communication for business partners and media friends.

After months of virtual engagements, virtual fatigue began creeping in and according to an audit conducted late last year, Lenovo found that its business partners and media friends longed to return to physical media engagements and to connect face-to-face with industry colleagues.

When the Singapore government eased restrictions on physical corporate events, Lenovo Singapore was stuck in a conundrum. While there was the eagerness to hold physical events again, the looming risk of the pandemic was weighing on everyone’s mind. Every brand in the industry was playing the waiting game – when would it be the right time to kickstart physical events again? The bigger question was which brand would want to take the plunge?

Lenovo decided to stay ahead of the competition. However, with restrictions on the total number of people at a physical event, Lenovo had to also find a creative way to maximise the budget that was to be spent, since this event may even be the only one for a long time should the pandemic persist indefinitely.

Lenovo needed a way to:

1. Engage with business partners and media friends in a safe manner;

2. Launch and introduce its most innovative product in 2020; and

3. Showcase Lenovo’s technological prowess and innovation across different product segments.

With dogged determination to ensure that all attending participants remained safe, Lenovo and its PR agency WE Communications conceived the Lenovo eXperential Day. According to the brand, this was the first physical/virtual event by a technology brand to be held in Singapore in November 2020 since the pandemic hit.

With a six-digit budget, the event was a three-in-one idea that showcased its innovation in the latest foldable device, smart home and even augmented reality technologies. The event took advantage of the state-of-the-art hybrid broadcast studio at Sands Expo and Convention Centre that offered broadcast-quality livestreaming capabilities and hologram functionalities. This allowed Lenovo to engage with the “live” audience in attendance, while broadcasting the event to a larger audience virtually, making this a truly hybrid event.

Strategy

The Lenovo eXperential Day was also a way for the business partners and media friends to experience the innovation for themselves in a safe way. Hence, the event was conceptualised based on a three-prong approach:

1. Amplify Lenovo’s smarter technology and innovation, through the introduction of their most innovative product in 2020

2. Showcase Lenovo’s technological prowess and innovation for work and play

3. Sustain awareness of Lenovo’s leading-edge solutions beyond the eXperiential Day

At the hybrid broadcast studio, all audiences were treated to a three-dimensional presentation experience that was reminiscent of the X1’s form factor and Lenovo’s belief to bring smarter technology for all, in the most innovative way possible.

Fringe activities such as dialogue sessions were conducted for business partners, C-suite leaders and media friends, that aimed to engage them from different perspectives, from understanding the secret of foldable technology, to discerning the evolution of technology for female users.

Throughout the event, there was intricate attention to details. From the key visuals used on the three dimensional screen, to the design of the event collaterals and scarf giveaway. Lenovo Singapore worked in close collaboration with local designers Binary Style, who drew inspiration from local nature reserve Check Jawa and the X1 Fold, to create fluid and captivating illustrations that reflected the flexibility of the X1 Fold. In doing so, Lenovo Singapore also supported the local talent and economy during a challenging period.

The Lenovo eXperential Day also included an experiential showcase of Lenovo’s solutions and devices, with show-and-tell presentations by Lenovo representatives. The showcase featured ground breaking solutions and devices such as: Yoga Slim 7i, Lenovo’s Service-led transformation, enterprise AR and VR, ThinkSmart solutions and, last but not least, the ThinkBook and WorkStation family members.

Sustaining the awareness of Lenovo’s solutions beyond eXperiential Day was equally vital, and it tapped on the expertise of its media friends. Opportunities to experience and review the showcased products in their homes or offices were immediately offered to them, ensuring that the excitement from the event would be sustained long after the event ends.

Execution

With audiences capped at 30 per event, the Lenovo eXperiential Day happened across three micro events over two days on 19 and 20 November, each targeting a different audience. The first day featured 22 top-tier business partner executives and more than 100 other executives who attended virtually. Day two welcomed 21 C-suite end users and 21 members of the media.

Featuring a three-dimensional stage with an immersive backdrop and floor, the studio provided an elevated launch experience, with a clear view no matter where participants are. To effectively engage the different audiences, specially curated dialogue sessions were organised. Business partners participated in “The Technology Behind The Fold” session, where representatives from Intel and Microsoft shared insights into how foldable technology came about and is realised in the X1 Fold.

With the increasing prominence of the diversity topic, C-suite end users were treated to the “Toys or Tools? What do Women Want In A Gadget?” thought leadership session, to discuss how technology and gadgets are marketed and sold to females. The session provided a perspective that technology and gadgets are not solely a male’s space.

The session gave Lenovo an opportunity to engage with female thought leaders and solidify Lenovo’s position as a technology brand that advocates diversity in all aspects, through initiatives such as the Women in Lenovo Leadership programme. According to the employee survey Lenovo Listens, this improved Lenovo’s diversity and inclusiveness scores over three years.

The “Future of Foldable Computing” media dialogue focused on the future that the X1 Fold brings and Lenovo’s plans for foldable technology. This educated the media on Lenovo’s vision for the technology, which the media could use as part of their reviews or in any trend stories on foldable technology, contributing to the sustenance beyond eXperiential Day.

At the showcase, booths were fitted with plastic guard screens to ensure protection for the presenters and attendees. Attendees wore white gloves when touching and trying the devices. Participants were split into groups of five and visited booths in a round robin style, with a Lenovo staff keeping time. Floor markings indicated where each individual should stand during the presentations.

Results

The post-event survey found that 83% of participants rated the event as “excellent” and most of the guests thoroughly enjoyed the session and found it useful for them. They also commended Lenovo Singapore for daring to hold the first physical/virtual event of the technology industry, exemplifying how Lenovo constantly takes the leap to be the first in the industry.

The event garnered at least 80 pieces of coverage featuring the Lenovo eXperiential Day, as well as news and reviews on the various products that were showcased. They included the ThinkPad X1 Fold, YOGA Slim 7i Carbon and Smart Home devices.