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XLIVE Interview Series
XLIVE Interview Series -Laura Hutfless - FlyteVu.jpg

Laura Hutfless, FlyteVu - XLIVE Interview Series

This week on the XLIVE Interview Series, we sat down with Laura Hutfless, co-founder and partner at FlyteVu. FlyteVu is an entertainment marketing agency that connects brands to consumers through storytelling, experiences, and music.

 

FlyteVu’s brand clients include Cracker Barrel, Norwegian Cruise Line, Enterprise, Journeys, Pilgrimage Festival, ClassPass, Dell, Spotify, Victoria’s Secret PINK, American Red Cross and more.  We spoke to Laura about a number of topics from how she entered the live event industry, some of her notable client work, inclusivity initiatives she’s worked on, and much more.  Read the full interview below!

Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us today, Laura!  For those who aren’t familiar with FlyteVu, can you give us a brief overview of the organization, how it started and changed along the way, and share some insight into your role there?

FlyteVu is a full-service entertainment marketing agency that was born from a need in the marketplace for a neutral, best-in-class agency, that sits inside the Entertainment industry and helps brands integrate authentically into the pop culture conversation. We built the agency based on our clients’ needs, and our 27-person team includes Strategy, Talent Acquisition, Public Relations, Paid Media, Content, Creative and Experiential teams.  We take pride in serving our clients with excellence and transparency, creating life’s most memorable moments, and giving back to the community – with a large portion of profits going to charities determined by our staff.

How did your career take you into working with brands on live events and campaigns?  Is this something you had always wanted to do professionally?

My professional career started as a Graphic Designer.  While I loved the creative part of that role, I struggled to sit behind a computer for a better part of the day and wanted more interaction with people.  Creating innovative live events allows me to flex my creative muscle and also interact with people and receive immediate feedback.  The popular quote “People won’t remember what you did, but how you made them feel” is one of my favorites.  By creating live events, I’m able to serve people and gift them with memorable experiences, make their day a little brighter, and treat everyone with respect and dignity.

FlyteVu was the first agency to ticket an event via SnapChat, the first brand to ever win a Grammy award, and the first to live stream a 360-performance into an interactive billboard. First off, congratulations!  Those are some incredible accomplishments.  Can you talk us through each of these accolades, and how these came to fruition?

We are innovators and “another FlyteVu first” is our mantra.  As such, we always integrate a “first’ into every campaign that we build for our clients. Our teams are challenged every day to go where no one has gone before.  We believe if you dream it, you can build it.  

Tennessee Tourism wanted to launch their Snapchat channel in a big way.  Snapchat is a difficult platform on which to build a following, so we knew we had to create a unique once-in-a-lifetime offering that drove people to the platform.  We partnered with Garth Brooks to celebrate his 7th diamond and throw a free concert event, but the only way in was via Tennessee’s Snapchat channel.   We continued the series called “Snap Your Way In” and created a once-in-a-lifetime event with other artists such as Jack White/Third Man Records and Kelsea Ballerini. 

The Grammy came about when we partnered Dolly Parton with acapella group Pentatonix to record the famous song “Jolene”, all in support of the release of Dolly Parton’s album “Pure & Simple” that was launching at Cracker Barrel Stores. The duet took on a life of its own and became the driving force behind performances on The Voice and CMA Awards.  The duet eventually won a Grammy Award, the first time Parton had received this prestigious award for the song that came out over 40 years ago, and Cracker Barrel rode the wave of that pop culture moment.  This program was proof that great, innovative content always wins, and brands can create pop culture moments if they are willing to support the creative and talent process. 

Whether we are finding new ways to ticket event via Snapchat (“Tennessee Tourism “Snap Your Way In”) or Acts of Kindness (Enterprise “Share the Code. Hit the Road”) or creating the first female-led creative team and Super Bowl campaign (Bumble “In Her Court”), we are always looking to be a first.

Inclusivity is something which often comes up in our industry.  You’ve done some great work helping to include more women in the space. Two recent campaigns notable, are FlyteVu's work with Bumble to bring more women to musical festival lineups, and the agency's partnership with Cracker Barrel in giving female country music artists their due.  At a high level, can you talk us through these initiatives, from motive, to launch, execution, and measurement?

These campaigns were brought to life because of our wonderful clients (Bumble and Cracker Barrel) who champion diversity causes, allow us to dream big, and trust us to execute.  In addition, the FlyteVu leads (Whitney Byerly and Sina Seger respectively) challenged their teams to create concepts to accomplish client business goals and change culture. 

 

The programs prove that if you can align with a meaningful pop culture narrative (equal representation) and create a platform to change culture, you’ll create brandy relevancy, and the business results will follow.

 

A question which often comes with experiential events or activations, is how do you measure the impact. Return on experience is a new metric in our industry, however measuring return on experience is often different depending on who you ask. How are you able to go back to your clients, and explain to them the impact these event productions had on their businesses?

We have a unique Onboard process that allows us to understand the Client’s goals and objectives and build a measurement mechanism at the beginning of the program.  Without doing this at the onset, there is no way to prove results at the end.  Every event we activate has a required barrier of entry that is a KPI for our clients. Each client is different, but we can prove with all of our programs (via digital media, tracking, customer surveys, etc.), that our programs not only drove awareness, but moved those consumers down the funnel to purchase, customer acquisition, or an intended action.

Many events and experiences are using technology to engage attendees on levels beyond site, and sound.  What types of immersive experiences have you worked on, and what excites you most with regards to the increased interest and investment into these immersive experiences?

Technology can enhance an experience, or it can detract.  We only incorporate technology if it will help tell or reinforce the brand message.  Too many agencies incorporate expensive tech-driven experiences just for the “cool” factor.  “Cool” doesn’t drive ROI. 

We created an experiential event at Coachella for Bumble called “Winter Bumbleland” to pair the chill of winter and the heat of Summer, highlighting how opposites match and attract on Bumble, the dating app.  We created the ultimate winter experience, and we made it snow (real snow!) for 2 days in 100 degree heat, created an X-games worthy snow tubing park, a life-size igloo that housed a full ice bar, a ski lift photobooth, and snow-themed cocktails and bites.  

We incorporated a 3D-mapping experience where attendees could design their own custom snowflake and by moving their hands, send the snowflake to the ceiling of the igloo where it connected with a sky of other custom snowflakes, created by other attendees.  The process of creating a unique snowflake and connecting with others, reinforced the brand message and the process of creating a user profile on the app to connect with others.  The technology reinforced the brand message.

Where do you see experiential events going from here?  What’s next as we finish 2019 and head into 2020?

Brands will need to consider their environmental and socioeconomic impact when it comes to experiential and make a concerted effort to create something more than just a fun experience.  We challenge our teams at FlyteVu to consider how we’re giving back to the community and to the world, with every activation that we create and execute.  I believe that one idea can change the world.  

Brands also need to consider how to extend the experiential event, so that it’s not a spike, but an always-on strategy to engage consumers pre and post event.  There should always be a plan – the how, when and with what - to engage a consumer after the initial touchpoint and move them down the marketing funnel.  ROI!

Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us today, Laura!  For people who want to learn more, how can they connect with you, FlyteVu, and learn more about the events and productions you’re working on?

We just launched a new website – www.flytevu.com – where you can find case studies, content, results of the campaigns and events we have the pleasure of executing, and job opportunities. We’d love to hear from you!  

TAGS: Brand Events
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