When the water cooler disappears, where does the office chatter go?

Chattering. Yakking. Chewing each other’s ear off. A chinwag. Whatever you call it, speaking to one another, whether it’s about the latest TikTok dance, or more serious matters like the US election, is a fundamental aspect of the human condition.

The relative importance of the subject matter, naturally, varies from chat to chat, and from yak to yak… But any conversation, however small, allows us to build meaning for ourselves, understand those around us and perhaps, even if for one small moment, change the way we see the world.

Even gossip, anthropologists and psychologists have found, is an extremely common way in which people make sense of things; of what-to-do’s and what-not-to-do’s. Indeed, gossip doesn’t always have to involve the salacious subjects it tends to be associated with… Research illustrates this.

In a 2019 meta-analysis, Megan Robbins, an assistant professor of psychology at The University of California, found that of the 52 minutes a day on average the 467 subjects spent gossiping, three-quarters of that gossip was actually neutral. In other words, it was not what was spoken about that was important, but rather that people had the opportunity to speak.

British office chat in particular consists of some of the most beautifully mundane conversation I’ve ever heard. The tired smiles and sarcastic remarks you might share over a fresh brew at 9am, and the, “Do you think it’s going to rain later?” questions, are what make going into our workplaces so valuable. They ground us.

It MIGHT sound like I’m writing a Dettol ad… but I’m being totally genuine. These instances make us realise that however stressful or overwhelmed we might feel in our working lives, that at least Dave is always there seeing if you want another one of his too-milky teas (thanks, but no thanks Dave), and your boss is there to tell you you’re doing a good job (but aesthetically, your decks could do with a bit of work).

We are brought back down to earth by the inherently benign nature of daily human interaction.

That conversation is a fundamental need of humans is not a contested point of view. In fact, and although it’s a bit gloomy, a study at Harvard University discovered that a lack of strong relationships in life had “an effect on mortality risk roughly comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and greater than obesity and physical inactivity”.

But, when the water cooler disappears, where does this office chatter go? What happens to our 52 precious minutes of talking about nothing at all?

We have what feels like abundance of social platforms now. Miro, Slack, Linkedin, Zoom, emails… These are all sold as transformative ways to connect with one another when there’s no office. But, I wonder, are we really are afforded the same benefits via digitally-mediated conversation as we are when we are speaking to someone face to face? Probably not.

Thankfully if you, like me, have brilliantly welcoming and supportive colleagues, you’ll see Slack messages replacing taps on the shoulder and smile emojis peppered through emails instead of a “do you want a cup of tea too?”. All these tiny moments can bring us closer to the feeling of chatting in person.

Each effort to include and to bring in can give us all a feeling of togetherness – even if it does come in the form of smile emoji.

Flora McKaig
Junior Strategist at The Crocodile

Ros Gray joins as Content Director

Ros Gray joins The Crocodile as Content Director, bringing a breadth and depth of experience with market leading brands such as Vodafone, Toyota, Sage, and Microsoft.

She joins the team alongside Nick Watmough, Creative Director and Oli Budworth, Head of Strategy. Supported by 60+ other Crocstars across digital, design, social, and paid media. We think this is the strongest blended team in the industry, capable of challenging B2B norms with fierce thinking, fearless work – and a family of inspiring, bold clients.

Managing Director, Jason Talbot says; “Ros is an exceptional talent and great presence within the agency. She won’t accept mediocrity and just has a knack for creating content that gets to the nub of complex propositions but with a human perspective. Combine this with our talent for building compelling brand strategies and ideas, and we have something very unique and unexpected to offer the B2B sector”.

Content Director, Ros Gray says; “The Crocodile is a really exciting place to do content. The mix of in-house media, digital and development skills means that bright ideas are carried all the way through to customer experiences. I couldn’t be more excited to see what we can do for our clients.”

Connected Customers with ServiceNow

Award season is always a good benchmark for gauging our ability to deliver effective industry-recognised campaigns.

This year our work with the talented team at ServiceNow has achieved six nominations in total with The Drum B2B Awards in the USA and The B2B Marketing Awards in the UK.

As specialists in CX, our nominations across Best Customer Experience, Best Use of Data/Insight, Best Use of Technology and Best Digital Campaign clearly demonstrate the strength and purpose of The Croc’s Connected Customer methodology.

This year’s nominations have been made possible by the dedication and effort of the insightful and ambitious team at ServiceNow and the fierce thinkers at The Croc.

Good luck to everyone shortlisted for the virtual ceremonies in November.

SapientNitro and Digitas UK Creative Director, Nick Watmough, joins The Crocodile

Nick joins The Crocodile as we continue to redefine the B2B agency model and specifically the shortage of bold creativity every brand should aspire to. He joins with a reputation for challenging convention and fierce thinking across B2C and B2B brands including Sky, Ford, Guinness and Oracle.

Managing Director, Jason Talbot says; “We have high ambitions to deliver exceptional thinking and ideas that are comparable with the best in the industry irrespective of B2C or B2B. With Nick we have a passionate yet pragmatic creative leader who understands ideas and, critically, what it takes to deliver them. He brings an infectious personality, calmness and experience that creates the conditions for great ideas to thrive”.

Creative Director, Nick Watmough says; “It’s an incredibly exciting time to be part of The Croc. As a creative, I’m impressed by their ambition and fresh approach to the agency model. Plus, the desire to rip up the rule book and look at the industry through a different lens. The agency is going through a period of significant growth – and I look forward to building on that momentum and creating bold, fearless work that shakes up the B2B sector. Opportunities like this are rare and I can’t wait to get started”.

Pharma: Innovation in Adversity

The race is on to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, with countries around the world aggressively researching vaccine technologies that could help to halt the pandemic. Of the 148 candidate vaccines that researchers are currently developing, 17 are already in human clinical trials.

Truth be told, shortening the cycle from lab to high street has been on the industry’s agenda since long before COVID-19 turned our world upside down. We’ve had a front row seat here at The Croc– mapping out complex customer journeys on behalf of pharma clients trying to streamline the complexities between clinical and commercial journeys.

However, over the course of this year the industry has gone through a crash course in organisational change. The wealth of new data and insights created through intense development as well as public and political pressures will have fundamentally changed the landscape.

Most players have had to adopt to a new global reality through necessity, and post-pandemic, these organisations will emerge with a clearer picture of efficient and effective working practices, and emerging opportunities in a reshaped customer ecosystem.

As history shows us again and again, innovation flourishes in times of adversity. And the pandemic has reminded the world of pharma’s strengths—namely, its capacity to accelerate research, and develop and distribute drugs on a vast scale. Many of the big firms and scores of smaller companies are working on COVID-19 vaccines and therapies.

Even before the virus, the industry had begun to invest more heavily in R&D. In the most recent quarter America’s 30 biggest firms boosted investment by a median of 6% year on year.

Medical innovation is back in fashion. Here’s hoping it brings some much-needed relief to all of us soon.

Image credit: National Cancer Institute. Photographer: Daniel Sone

Jason Talbot to speak at ON24’s Virtualized Summit

Here’s your chance to hear from our MD JT, speaking at ON24’s global summit, Virtualized.

Joining speakers from Telverde, Medallia, SurveyMonkey and Informatica, he’ll be in good company, as he takes to the virtual stage on July 23rd, 2020.

In his presentation titled “The Art of Human Connections” he will be sharing practical examples and frameworks designed to unlock human insights, elicit emotional responses and deliver persuasive and memorable virtual events.

Podium: Feel-good Virtual Events
The Crocodile’s immersive virtual event design proposition, Podium has partnered with ON24 in the creation of Virtualized and is a sponsor for the event. The current registration volume of more than 6,000 people is clear evidence of the pressing global demand to future-proof virtual event skills, and an indicator of how events remain a core component of the marketing mix.

Find out for yourself, at Virtualized Summit 2020.

Podium runs UK Biobank Scientific Conference

At the beginning of the year, I was (like most marketing and events professionals) gearing up for a new year and a new decade – the horizon dotted with exciting event opportunities.

By March lockdown arrived and suddenly we were all making the difficult decision to postpone or worse, cancel events – the majority with months of planning and resource behind them. While this was the right thing to do, there was a real sense of disappointment – both for the teams who had been planning, selling and promoting them, and for the people looking forward to attending.

To avoid the complete collapse of an entire industry, the focus shifted almost overnight to the virtual space. A space that had existed for some time, but for many, was unfamiliar and unproven.

For many event organisers the pivot to virtual events has been challenging and the need to evaluate every aspect of the traditional event process and product against virtual audiences has been an interesting experience.

UK Biobank Scientific Conference 2020
With Biobank UK – a new Podium client, we jumped in at the deep end having a mere four weeks to build an event from scratch. From platform advisory to scheduling and talks, it was vital we could create an event to deliver the critical, potentially lifesaving work Biobank is doing to combat the Pandemic with scientists around the world.

In four weeks we pulled on the vast digital, technical and creative experience held within the Podium team to present UK Biobank’s ground-breaking research to over 3,500 attendees – three times the number of their previous live annual conferences. The event was a resounding success.

Having successfully navigated Biobank through all the challenges going digital could throw their way, I wanted to share some useful insight into the process:

1. Your audience might not be who you plan for
With none of the usual barriers to entry, your virtual attendees could suddenly be very different. Think twice about attendee needs and preferences and how you can harness this new format to expand the reach of your event. If travel, cost and time are no longer holding someone back from attending your event, what will draw them in? By running the UK Biobank event at a time that suited the majority of global attendees and by ensuring a mix of speakers who may have previously been unable to contribute, we tripled the number of attendees on the day.

2. Choose your technology wisely
Virtual event platforms are a minefield. One of the key differentiators for Podium is being platform agnostic, as there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all platform solution for any business. Invest time understanding what you need the platform to do and choose it based on your event needs, rather than shoehorning your event into tech that doesn’t fit. If you already have a platform but you’re not sure it’s working for you it doesn’t mean all is lost and certainly shouldn’t equal delivering a sub-standard event experience. One thing we do know is that whilst the platform sits at the heart of the experience, it’s only one part of it. If you’re not sure, talk to us. It’s likely we’ve heard of it and can help.

3. Have backups of backups – but don’t beat yourself up
Every event, whether physical, virtual or hybrid needs a backup plan. If a presenter’s WIFI goes down, do they have another way to quickly reconnect? In fact, it doesn’t matter how much time and effort you’ve put into rehearsals and testing, technology will seemingly always find a way to not work when you need it to the most. And beyond the obvious, have things like a small script to bring light-hearted relief to those times when a presenter goes full ‘freeze-face’ mid-sentence. Do this and you’ll feel far-less stressed before and during the day of your event.

As an industry, adapting to the new–normal, with virtual sitting at the heart of every event. If your live event promises to deliver value and build community, there’s no reason you can’t do the same things virtually – you just need to know how.

Kate Love
Digital Event Director at Podium | The Crocodile

I don’t want a conversation with you


Trainers, or, sneakers as they’re often known, are another life–long obsession of mine.

For as long as I can recall, they’ve been a source of irrational fascination.

In 1990, when I was eleven years old, Nike Air had just launched in the UK, and I remember being totally fascinated by these amazing trainers with an air bubble. So much so that I saved every penny of my birthday money and nagged my parents to let me go and spend it on a pair of them.

I was beyond excited, and while I can never claim to have been the most popular kid in school, for a brief moment I relished the attention the trainers I wore to and from school brought.

In life, no matter what we may believe, many of the decisions we make are irrational

While I think my desire for Nike Air was fuelled by my natural instinct to want anything shiny and new, it did cement my love for brands at a very young age. Although I didn’t theoretically stay loyal to Nike growing up (I also bought Reebok Pump, Puma Disc and Adidas Torsion during this time, too), any trainer that wasn’t a brand I liked was instantly dismissed no matter how tempting its technical claims.

Call my decision-making process irrational, because guess what, it was, and to this day, for many things I buy, or want to buy, it still is!

Last year, Les Binet and Peter Field published research that analysed ten years’ worth of B2B marketing. If you work in the industry and your job is to sell to people (in any capacity), then you need to read it, understand it and apply it to everything you’re doing today; from how you’re apportioning budget, to how you’re planning marketing activity.

While there are many fascinating charts, two in particular stand out:

Brand building vs sales activation

The first shows the power of brand building, which is and always will be a long-term activity, but one that, if invested in, creates growth way beyond that of activation (think on-off campaigns you run all year).

The second chart I love is this:

Fame, is the name of the game

This chart shows that campaigns that are specifically designed to create fame for a brand outperform other campaigns on all business metrics. In addition, emotional campaigns also perform better in almost all metrics, particularly in the long term.

What this research doesn’t say is that you should stop doing the marketing you’re doing today, but what it absolutely does reinforce is the need for every business – no matter what that business sells – to ensure brand is front and centre of every conversation.

But remember; when it comes to brand it’s not just what you say, it’s what you do that matters…

When I was eleven, I wasn’t really exposed to much advertising. The internet didn’t exist, there was no YouTube, Instagram or Snapchat and there were four channels on television. So, influence over what I liked wasn’t what it is today. But I was into NFL – the Miami Dolphins to be precise. That might sound random but American Football was big in the UK back then (and still is today), and I believe my fascination for Nike came by association of the fact they were the primary sponsor for the team.

My love for Nike didn’t begin with a clever ad, it came from the brand doing what it’s always done – associating itself with amazing athletes and sports.

So next time you’re questioning what your business should be doing, remember that whilst the short-term results from brand activity might be slow, if you get it right (you’re consistent, and consistently good) the long-term effects of brand on your business will far exceed that of any short-term sales promotion.

Oliver Budworth
Head of Strategy at The Crocodile

I buy you because I like you


For as long as I can remember, I’ve been into cars.

In fact, I love pretty much anything with wheels and an engine, although I’ll always argue that four wheels is better than two.

As a result of my life–long passion, I’ve owned, and still own quite a few cars, from brand new ones, to really old ones in various states of condition.

As anyone who owns a car will know, they come with often significant running costs; from servicing and tyres to fuel duty and road tax (my cheapest is £30 a year, my dearest is £580). But the biggest cost for many people is insurance. It’s not cheap and like many things in life, is what I’d class as a ‘distressed purchase’ – you don’t want to buy it, but you have to.

A few months ago, I got a renewal through for one of my cars. Being lazy about things like this, I usually just let the renewal happen, but I noticed the price of the premium had increased by over FIVE HUNDRED POUNDS. That’s a lot by any measure, so I hit up one of the comparison sites to see if I could get it for less.

A few minutes is all it took to enter a few details and straight away, offers began filling my screen. One hundred pounds less, two hundred pounds less, five hundred pounds less. I couldn’t quite believe it.

Trusted brand v value for money
I was suddenly in a bit of a quandary. I’ve been with the same insurer for fifteen years, so it felt a bit weird defecting, and, many of those offering the same sort of premium for way less money… well, I simply didn’t know them. So the dilemma of price vs trust started to come into play. I could get a super cheap policy but from an insurer I’d never even heard of. What would it be like if ever I had to make a claim? Having claimed off insurance in the past I know all–too–well the importance of one who is easy to work with and puts your best interests at heart.

I scrolled up and down the list and eventually decided on one that wasn’t quite the cheapest, but was much cheaper than the renewal price quoted by my current insurer. Why did I choose who I chose? Because I knew them – I felt an air of familiarity and trust in who they were. Good old brand salience was coming into play. And despite the fact that they haven’t really advertised on TV for years, I still remember their irreverent ads starring the late Michael Winner. That brand? eSure:

As conversation about the importance of brand building in B2B grows (something I’ve personally championed for decades) and which has been studies and proven by the brilliant Les Binet and Peter Field – Effective Marketing for B2B Brands, it’s useful to remember these key principles about the importance of brand:

1. Most people aren’t in the market to buy whatever it is you’re selling, most of the time – but when they are, it’s your brand that helps them choose you
2. ‘Brand’ is something you earn
3. Brand is what people think and feel about you – it’s not a logo, or a message on an advert.
4. Brand is created through behaviours, actions, associations.
5. Brand is an intangible thing, but one that drives enormous tangible value.

So whilst it’s important to run targeted, performance campaigns, brand should never be something that’s ignored, neglected or underinvested in. If you want your business to grow, brand is the key.

Oliver Budworth
Head of Strategy at The Crocodile

Podium partner with UMS to bring Immersive Virtual Events to China

London, UK – 28th May, 2020 – Today, The Crocodile, and United Media Solution (UMS) are announcing the global Immersive Virtual Events initiative, Podium, launches in China.

Like almost every market around the World, China has seen significant demand for enterprise organisations to pivot from physical events to digital – especially for businesses outside China that are looking to maintain a strong presence whilst social distancing measures are still in place. Podium, the global Immersive Virtual Events initiative enables enterprises to quickly adopt a digital–first approach to events that deliver theatre, connectivity, and experiences designed to grow customer relationships.

Access to China for Global brands
Based in China, UMS, delivers a best–in–class event design service that can solve for a multitude of events, ranging from conferences to more intimate VIP experiences. As with Podium, the UMS approach is built on connected and fluid experiences orchestrating local platforms such as WeChat and cloud partner Tencent to unlock features such as face-recognition, live-streaming, electronic business cards, and real-time personalisation.

Global access for Chinese brands
In addition, the partnership gives Chinese brands instant global reach and scale through the Podium network, enabling digital event strategies that connect with global markets including the USA, Europe and Middle East.

The Crocodile’s Managing Director, Jason Talbot, adds: “In the blink of an eye the world changed. This initiative is consistent with a growing trend for complimentary providers to work together to create agile, best-in-class solutions that address the fast-changing and unprecedented needs of business.”

UMS CEO, Jessica Miao, commented: “We are excited to join Podium as a China partner and collectively provide brands with an immersive online solution that encompasses the key benefits of offline events. Through this digital offering, brands can effectively engage with customers while capturing their digital footprint – opening avenues of opportunity for building brand loyalty and future interactions. This initiative could not have come at a more valuable time, and I look forward to introducing Podium to our clients to secure their success in China and overseas markets.”

“Yes, it’s a weird time to start a new job.”

Everybody feels a little awkward when starting a new job. I am especially awkward because I lack small-talk. I don’t know what to say to the person whose name I don’t know, title I couldn’t fathom, or ego I haven’t sized up. I worry that these people sitting around me in an open-plan office are too busy to help me find my way around the company.
The first month of any job is a combination of not disturbing the “cool kids,” but also not looking like a wall-flower. While not the exact feeling for everyone, new person nerves are an everyday office experience.

April 14th was my first day at The Crocodile. Post-COVID lockdown – how on Earth was I going to break the awkwardness of “new,” in my bedroom, with hippy, tiger bedding as a backdrop to my zoom calls?

Day 1, 9:04am
My boss via WhatsApp “Hey- realise you don’t have your laptop, which means you probably don’t have your email, which means you probably don’t have the invite to your welcome zoom… which is now.”

The first day; I’m already late, unprepared, and stalling a group of senior staff members. Awkwardness and anxiety have reached their FULL potential.

However, my agency’s agility is not full of potential; it’s an active force. Within 10 minutes my software log-ins are with me and day one zoom invites are flying to my personal email. I learned my company is full of quick problem-solvers– something that would have taken weeks to learn. By 9:30am the senior staff from my meeting at 9:00am are all welcoming me to The Crocodile.

*Ping- Slack message from Alex, saying he would love to grab a coffee
*Ping- LinkedIn connection
*Ping- Welcome Email
*Ping- Zoom from HR
*Vibrate- Missed Call from MD explaining why he wasn’t on the intro call but we should chat today

When you start as a person with only an internet connection, the welcome from the company is purely down to the people culture. The professionalism of booked “introduction meetings,” fades and the personality of each employee is open to behaving like themselves.

New starter introductions: your zoom or my slack?
The extroverts pounced- Alex from media wanting to introduce himself immediately and client services people firing off welcome messages. I had met half of the team on day one and the leadership team had arranged meetings with me. The extroverts and leadership are always the most difficult to crack as they are usually huddled in some office clique. There is nothing you can say as a new person in an office clique, that does not come off as foreign. That’s not to say office cliques don’t form but you are unaware of the private slack channel named after an inside joke, and you don’t have to squeeze yourself into the conversation.

As I was finding myself quickly integrated the introverted people came out to say hi virtually. With our introductions being project led, it allowed for a more natural meeting. Instead of that person who is quiet and sits near the dead plant — I met them as they wanted to be seen. The person I can rely on for these areas of the business.

Losing the building, gaining the people
While getting to grips with the work, I didn’t have to fear my social standing before doing what I do well; my job. The first two weeks have been less about presentism and more about being a valuable person to my organisation. I was able to avoid falling into the dreaded Abilene Paradox, where people agree to a decision because they fear their disagreement will be perceived as negativity. The “work,” whatever it may be, is viewed through the lens of “good,” instead of group dynamics.

The biggest concern about working remotely is the loss of personal interaction. Businesses believe they lose control, lose creativity, lose productivity, lose something that made their business tick. If you have hired the right people, people will do what comes naturally to them. Your people have always been your culture, with or without the four walls of an office, they will perform the way they feel empowered to do so. Digital employment allows for the growth of culture instead of the cult of the office.

Natasha Keith
Client Strategist at The Crocodile

Events – What’s in a name?

Throughout history, there have been events. Dating back hundreds, if not thousands of years, events are how we remember key moments in history.

Many events occur for reasons out of our control – from the humble birthday, to a scorching hot summer, but to embrace the spirit of the moment we’ve learned to celebrate them in the best ways possible. But for decades we’ve also devoted time, energy and money into manufacturing events; awards ceremonies, product launches, announcements, celebrations, opening and closing parties, hedonism… you name it, there’s likely to be an event for it. International Sushi Day anyone?

Change means change

This year, we’ve had to change many aspects of how we live, how we work, and how we do business. And in business, one of the sectors to really feel the impact is the events business. For the foreseeable future, we’re not going to be traveling to large conference venues, or mingling with strangers, or sitting in rooms full of rows of seats packed so tightly you’re practically sat on your neighbour’s lap. We’re not going to be wandering into beautifully crafted entrance foyers, or plan rise with row upon row of exhibitors, all with their professionally crafted display stands and their sharp, bright sales people, eager to demonstrate their innovative product to you. We’re not going to be witness to the dramatic music to open the keynote speech, or the 90 seconds of visual effect on screen that took months of planning, design and late nights in the office to fine–tune. We’re not going to be able to network with others at the event in whatever way suits our individual personalities, or have an informal chat over a drink at the end of the day.

Or are we?

An event should be an event

Ever since the world of business turned virtual, people have scrambled to try and turn the physical, into the virtual. Tens, if not hundreds of platforms now exist to run ‘virtual events’, all promising to emulate the physical events experience, but, like many things in life, whilst they all look good on paper, in practice they’re simply not the magic bullet to creating an event, digitally.

Yes, technology is part of the solution, but it isn’t the solution.

A few weeks ago, we launched Podium, a new Immersive Digital Events Design service. Podium was born from two key observations:

1. Virtual events don’t have to be, nor should they be a direct translation of the physical events experience – because the beauty with digital is you can pretty much create whatever you want. You’re not constrained by the size, shape or location of the venue.

2. Just because an event is digital, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have investment into the craft that its physical cousin receives.

What we’ve noticed is that, in the rush to either transform physical events into virtual ones, or create new virtual events, people seem to have forgotten the above. Large scale events planned for thousands of attendees, with well–rehearsed presenters standing on grand stages, with beautifully produced graphics for their backdrops have become the equivalent to a rainy day in Slough. People presenting in their baseball caps, in messy rooms, with a glib PowerPoint presentation, droning on for half an hour, with little to no audience engagement.

See the problem?

Where’s the craft?

Where’s the planning?

Where’s the production value?

Where’s the event?

The answer is simple

As a brand manager, or anyone responsible for holding an event, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Why are you holding this virtual event?

2. Who’s it for?

3. Why will people bother attending?

4. What are you doing for it that’s going to keep their attention?

5. What are you prepared to invest to make it as good, if not better than the physical one you were planning this time last year?

These are the questions we ask any prospective Podium client, because these indicate whether the aspiration is there to create a virtual event, or in fact, it’s really just a webinar, or a piece of on-demand video that’s needed. To add, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with these things, but they’re not an event, nor should they be considered as a viable alternative to one.

Still think it’s an event you’re after? Call us

Oliver Budworth
Head of Strategy at The Crocodile

Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery

Over the past month, there’s been a huge surge in demand for virtual events, but when it comes to designing them, not many can see beyond the conventions of the convention centre.

In 1985 a new start–up called W Industries was formed, and in 1990 ‘VIRTUALITY’ was launched. If you were around at the time, you’ll remember the big grey headsets appearing at video–game arcades throughout the world. It was meant to herald a new era in gaming but the technology underpinning it wasn’t powerful enough and despite the massive PR machine behind it, the experience was quite simply, a bit pants.

The world of Second Life

In 2003, Linden Labs launched Second Life, a new ‘virtual world’ in which, anyone could create an avatar, and then go about building their own alternate reality, along with interacting with many other online ‘residents’.

It was hailed as the next big thing, and brands flocked to it. In fact, it became so popular that in 2006, U2 even hosted a live concert on the platform.

But as fast as it grew, people lost interest. After all, who wants to play something that quite literally mirrors real life, but without all of the drama, nuance, serendipity, idiosyncrasy and fun that often frequents life in the physical world.

It seems anything that’s ‘virtual’ usually ends up being a less-good version of the real thing.

And so today, with the self-isolation and lockdown implemented as a result of Covid-19, we see events around the world either being postponed, cancelled, or transformed into ‘virtual’ versions of the physical thing.

Welcome to the virtual foyer

Unfortunately, many seem to interpret a virtual event as something that’s a direct translation of a physical one. The welcome foyer. The plenary. Exhibition booths. Conference rooms. Reception desk anyone? And what this approach typically results in, is a crap version of the real thing. Not only is it not as good, it also acts as a stark reminder that once you’ve stared at the virtual lobby, and watched all the talks, you sadly won’t be walking to a bar serving ice cold drinks, or the nice roof terrace to go and network in the evening sun.

Putting a physical event online should never be about trying to replicate the physical world, virtually. It’s a broken formula – proven time and time again, and, as Tom Hanks’ character in BIG famously said: “What’s fun about playing with a building? That’s not any fun.”

When digital offers almost infinite possibilities in terms of the experience you can create for people, it seems crazy that an event would try to imitate the physical world and all of the constraints that come with it.

Think about movies such as Ready Player One, Tron and Inception – immersive, fantasy worlds unconstrained by the physics or realities of the physical world. Think about how these movies play with our minds, stimulate our imagination and helping us to see things in a new light.

A digital blank canvas. Wow.

Now imagine, if you had a blank canvas for your next event, one that was free from the constraints of elements like the location, size and shape of the venue, the colour of the carpet and the paint on the walls, or the distance between the various rooms for the talks, what sort of experience would you want to create?

Digital presents a world of creative potential for events – the only limit is your imagination and ambition.

Podium designed events combine creativity, craft and the very best uses of technology platforms to create events with theatre, quality and excitement that provide attendees with a feel-good experience from beginning to end.

We call it Immersive Digital Event Design.

So when you’re thinking about your next event, ask yourself one question; what sort of experience you want your event to deliver. Then call us.

Oliver Budworth
Head of Strategy at The Crocodile

Industry leaders launch Virtual Event Initiative

London, UK – 8th Apr, 2020 – Today, The CrocodileOnalytica, and Turtl are announcing Podium a global Immersive Virtual Events initiative, in partnership with ON24, the leading technology company helping businesses transform their marketing and customer engagement through data-rich digital experiences.

With high demand for enterprise organisations to pivot from physical events to digital, this offering enables enterprises with a readily available digital event solution that quickly delivers the scale, theatre, richness and excitement of physical events, online.

In virtual boardrooms globally, the same question has been echoing across video calls – “We have to pull our physical events this year – what are we going to do instead?” Switching to online events is the answer but the shift to digital isn’t as straightforward or as easy as it might seem. Now, it’s mission critical for brands to elevate their webinar experiences to match the engagement and impact of traditional sales and marketing conferences.

The Podium initiative pulls together best-in-class online event design, influencer marketing and media rich interactive content formats to create an immersive online event experience powered by the ON24 Platform.

The Podium initiative has an ambitious set of principles and goals:

  • To create the next generation of immersive digital event experiences
  • To replicate the theatre and excitement of physical events
  • To design data driven digital experiences that feel more human
  • To scale the engagement of in-person events to a much wider audience

This initiative is consistent with a growing trend for complimentary providers to work together to create agile, best-in-class solutions that address the fast-changing and unprecedented needs of business.

Tessa Barron, ON24 VP of Marketing, commented: "Our mission at ON24 is to help businesses transform their marketing into an experience their audience demands. And, we know that realising that vision takes more than technology. Through innovative service offerings like Podium, we hope to help companies successfully bridge the physical-to-digital event divide, now and in the future."

The Crocodile’s Managing Director, Jason Talbot, adds: "In the blink of an eye the world changed. It’s forced many of us to confront digital experience gaps that exist across many organisations. By breaking down silos and collaborating we’ve created Podium – immersive event design with craft, theatre, connected data and digital scale as a viable alternative to physical events in 2020 and onwards."

Tim Williams, CEO Onalytica: "Physical events create spikes of social media engagement, but brands have historically struggled to build and sustain dialogue and engagement pre- and post-event. Integrating internal and external influencers in the promotion of events drives an 8-week audience engagement cycle, improves the quality of events and creates inspiring content assets that can be used in the sales cycle throughout the year."

Nick Mason, CEO Turtl: "I’m very excited for Turtl to be part of Podium. In the present climate, the ability to deliver amazing digital events is an absolute must and Podium will be leading the way with best-of-breed technologies for every step of the digital event experience."

Visit Podium website.