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XLIVE Interview Series
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XLIVE Interview Series: Michael Coco, Red Frog Events

XLIVE recently caught up with Michael Coco of Red Frog Events, who serves as their Senior Director of Operations, also known as the Admiral of Adrenaline at Red Frog. Michael has a diverse background in live events of all types; music festivals, obstacle races, beer fests and everything in between. We had the opportunity to catch up with Michael and hear more about his perspective on a range of industry issues.  

Tell us a little about Red Frog Events and some of your latest initiatives.

Red Frog Events is an event production company and pioneer of the experiential entertainment industry, recognized for its award-winning company culture. Since 2007, the company has developed innovative brands including the Warrior Dash obstacle race series, Firefly Music Festival, and Chicago Beer Classic. In total, we have produced over 500 of our own events across the globe, amassing more than 3 million attendees along the way.

Red Frog also provides event services ranging from site operations to talent buying to our ticketing platform, EventSprout. We are fortunate to work with prominent organizations like Madison House Presents, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Country Jam, Prime Social Group, and many more.

What was the first event you ever attended and what was your impression?

My mother and father have owned and operated a sports media company in Louisiana for as long as I can remember so I grew up attending sporting events. I have a hard time recollecting the first event I ever attended but I do know that I was excited about going to those events every time even if it was something as small as a local high school football game.

What were the most memorable events you attended last year, and what made them exceptional from your point of view?

It is hard to answer this one without being a little biased toward our events. If I were forced to exclude Firefly, Warrior Dash, ShamrockFest and Chicago Beer Classic I would have to say The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival and the City of Chicago Tree Lighting. I may gravitate more toward these because they are family friendly events but The Mag Mile Association and the City of Chicago do a phenomenal job programming the events and they leave you feeling more in the holiday spirit than you ever thought you could be.

Can you share a current project youre working on that youre excited about?

I currently have a few exciting projects in the works. The one I can tell you about that has me most excited is the expansion of our Warrior Dash brand. We are bringing the event to 6-7 new locations in 2018 and also introducing a new concept to our participants.

Looking back on your career in the industry, what has been the biggest learning experience for you personally?

I honestly think I learned more from working with the Milb New Orleans Baby Cakes than any other organization. The main reason for this is because it was my first real job in the industry and I was forced to wear a lot of hats. I have learned much more about experiential entertainment since I started at Red Frog but I wouldn't trade my days as a marketer, publicist, salesman, in-game entertainer, photographer, emcee, mascot, field crew and bat boy for the world.

If you werent involved in the live event industry, what job or field would you attempt?

I have always wanted to be a professional athlete, but I'm not sure that is a realistic fall-back for me at this point. Maybe an engineer.

What has been your least favorite job and what did you learn from that experience?

I am blessed in the fact that I have never disliked any of my jobs. Don't get me wrong, there have certainly been tasks at each of those jobs that haven't been my favorite; but in this industry, you have to learn to take the good with the bad.

One task, in particular, comes to mind. Picking up trash. I have had to do this at more events than I can count and have come to realize that it is one of those things that every event professional has done at some point or another. The older and more experienced I get, the more I have come to accept it and use it as a way to show my team that I am willing to get in the trenches with them no matter what.

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