Red Bull

Excellent event experiences: 10 features of successful campaign design

17th Nov 2016

What are some critical elements you should have front of mind when designing event experiences?

Here are 10 characteristics that I’ve learned should be included in all awesome event campaigns.

1. Be purposeful

Have a vision. A goal. And think BIG. How can you change the world?

People are motivated by a sense of purpose, and will gravitate towards your idea if you can connect with this human desire.

Get it on the 'bucket list'. This is your chance to be a game changer - push the boundaries!

Red Bull do this in every campaign. Stratos being the ultimate example, and the likes of the Wings for Life World Run, is an example of a global campaign with an inspiring goal (finding a cure for spinal injury).

The recent Global Energy Race had a goal to break the world record for a race taking place in the most cities in one day. Think - what is your campaign goal?

2. Be unexpectedly great

Surprise & delight with the 'wow' factor. In fact, having a wow factor is a basic requirement, you must then add layers of unexpected moments to be truly awesome in todays competitive event market.

Nike create events that ‘only Nike would do’. The experience always offers something truly great, and then, Nike add moments of impact, to make it even more personal, and meaningful.

3. Make it simple

Inspire with clear value for participants.

Make sure your concept passes the ‘pub test’. Word of mouth is a huge ally in the event world, so do yourself a favor and make the concept simple, and inherently shareable.

"YOU did X & Y with Z!?!"

Racing from one side of New Zealand to the other is an easily identifiable but unique opportunity provided by the Coast to Coast event.

Event campaign

4. It must be meaningful

Make it personal. People are buying experiences as the new commodity in the ‘experience economy’ that we live in. Making it truly meaningful and ‘remark’able so that people really buy into it, take ownership of it, and want to share it.

The Mothers Day Classic is a wonderful example of a cause connecting with a community.

Swimathon has had over half a million swimmers take part and raised more than £40 million for charitable causes.

And it must be relevant

find a tribe, then add value.

People are inherently tribal. Create or find a community of like minded people and add value to their lives. The passion will already be there, sometimes we just need someone to facilitate an experience for us!

ParkRun brings the running tribe together with organized, timed, free group runs. For people who run aren’t gravitating towards traditional running clubs, but they are runners. Tough Mudder connected with the gym workout tribe. Kayla Itsines is connecting with a tribe of young women, and is a great example of using new media channels to connect with active world audiences.

5. Be aspirational and accessible

Aim to inspire, but remember everyones aspirations differ. A 5k run is a marathon to many, a marathon just a training run to some.

Some like to compete with others, some with themselves. Set your event up to challenge, to spur aspiration, but keep the tone and format accessible.

The format of the Bloomberg Square Mile Relay promotes friendly rivalry in a team based running race, in an achievable mile relay format. Sydney's Spring Cycle offers over 10,000 participants of all ages and abilities an opportunity to ride over the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, being aspirational and accessible by offering a range of distances, from 12km to 105km rides.

6. Be shareable and scaleable

Event campaign

Make it personal, but ideally, a shared experience. The event concept should be naturally one that people will want to share with others, and this then has a multiplier effect for you to attract participation.

And make it repeatable. For the participants, and for the organizer, desirable, viable and feasible to deliver in multiple locations and ideally across several years.

Color Run created an active entertainment experience that had to be shared with others. And its appeal was transferable across territories, and demographics.

The J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge started 40 years ago and has since inspired 255,270 entrants from 7,677 companies, and now has events in 13 cities in seven countries annually

7. Be impactful

Positively disrupt. Change people lives.

Nothing ultimately stands out today unless you are truly different. And to influence behavior you need to provide something. If nothing changes, nothing changes.

Soul Cycle claims to be indoor cycling reinvented. Soul Cycle ‘doesn't just change bodies, it changes lives. With inspirational instructors, candlelight, epic spaces, and rocking music, riders can let loose, clear their heads and empower themselves with strength that lasts beyond the studio walls.

Alternatively, Zwift is the ‘digital destination for the global cycling community’

The Emmy award winning ‘Like a Girl’ campaign confronted perceptions and helped changed attitudes, and behaviours.

8. Co-create

Partner up to multiply your ability. Be an enabler. You can't do it on your own.

Whether it is the participants, other people, organisations, authorities, partners/sponsors, use ‘design thinking’ methodology and collaborate, to achieve more.

Limelight Sports understand audiences, and partners with organisations to create a more active world, placing the brands and the participants ‘in the limelight’.

9. Create journeys

Take your audience on a real life journey. Tell a story and create a story. Fuse your brand with their journey. After all life is about journeys, and a collection of our stories.

Use the hero’s journey as your template – or simply start with Pixars template and see what you can create.

Nike Most Wanted transforms lives by connecting to young footballers dreams and taking them on a journey, to the Nike Academy and professional careers.

and, events are best if you...

10. Create legacies

Change behaviour and attitudes. That is the power of event experiences.

"Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember. Involve me, I understand."

Make it authentic, which will help make it and sustainable behaviour for people, and for your experience to continue to me awesome.

The Skyrides campaign has promoted recreational cycling, changing behaviour and attitudes toward riding bikes, across many cities and thousands of people of all ages.


Like any modern entrepreneurial project you should be using Lean Startup principles, so don't forget to prototype it... build, test and learn, and iterate until you know it hits the sweat spot across the 3 key criteria.

Event campaigns
Is it feasible - desirable - viable?

Tick off the features in your event design, or, we can help you incorporate these essential elements - to create awesome experiences.

Please share your ideas with me here, or online at

Andrew O'Loughlin is director at Limelight Sports




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