Event Case: 'EUconnect Roadshow' with VR Storytelling & Influencers

In this new eventplanner.tv series we'll discuss inspiring event cases with the event agencies who organised them. Today Sylvester shares their take on a VR roadshow for the European Union. An interesting case to learn from!


Do you have an event case worthy of sharing? Get in touch.

Kevin Van der Straeten
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Wouter De Naeyer [Sylvester]
Wouter De Naeyer [Sylvester]
Expert|2022-08-08 - 09:37u

🤩

Femke Verstraeten [Sylvester]
Femke Verstraeten [Sylvester]
Expert|2022-08-08 - 09:38u

Wat een team! 👊🏼

Brecht  Willems [Sylvester]
Brecht Willems [Sylvester]
New|2022-08-09 - 10:52u

Well done team! 💪

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Transcript

Hi and welcome to yet another eventplanner.tv episode.

Before I introduce my guests today I want to share that we will launch a new eventplanner.tv series where we dive into very interesting event cases.

Today we will bring a brand activation case. But if you have an interesting event case you want to share with our audience, get in touch.

Eve and Bart, welcome to our studio. You're both from Sylvester agency and you brought a very interesting brand activation case today. But maybe I let you explain: what is the case about?


The case is about a project that we've done for Europe. More specific for European funds but we'll come to that later. Where we wanted to communicate to youngsters: what is Europe about? Bring some positive awareness about Europe to the youngsters.


Okay, before we start: how did Europe come to Sylvester? Was it a pitch that was organized of how did that process go?


Well, first of all, the four European funds we collaborated with are managed by the Flemish government. And the Flemish government has a framework agreement with Sylvester. So, first of all, it wasn't a pitch. And the reason why this project was such a success is partly because of that. Because it allowed us to collaborate with our client. To do a first proposal. To keep the good things from the first proposal, remove the lesser things and come back with an even greater proposal. And in that way we managed to have a great collaboration with our client.


Do I understand correctly that you say: it could be more creative because it wasn't a pitch, then?


We could be more creative because we were allowed to get in touch again with the client. And to have a little bit of ping-pong, back-and-forth with the client. And I think, for the creative process, that's very important. Because you can get wildly creative but if it's not what the client wants, it's not creative at all.


If we then go to the initial brief: what was the question you got?


The European funds make a campaign for Europe every year. They want to show the inhabitants of the countries what Europe does in their daily lives, in their region. This campaign is every year around the ninth of May: Europe Day.

This year, 2022, is the year of the youngsters. So they wanted to focus their campaign on youngsters. That's a very difficult target group. We don't have to tell you. So they wanted to reach them in a way that's appealing and attractive for the youngsters. And to make some positive awareness about Europe. To do that they already initiated the idea to work with some innovative technology. The client said: maybe we can work with AR or VR?

Then we had an internal brainstorm about this project. And we did some research because we have to work together with a partner. Who is specialized in this innovative technology. And we came out with Yonder. They are very specialized in 360° VR movies. So we got back to the client with the idea of making a VR movie. A 360° VR movie. With storytelling. With some narrative in the film. Where you will lead the youngsters from project to other projects that Europe has funded.


Okay, if I'm not mistaken, the reason why it's the year of the youngsters, is because of the elections that are coming up. And that Europe wants to get a positive image, get everybody to the voting.


Exactly. The Belgian government has decided that, as of the elections from 2024, youngsters from the age of 16 will be allowed to vote. Only for European elections. For the European parliament. So it's important for youngsters to know about Europe. Mostly they don't have a clue. You know that Europe is something far away in Brussels. Or maybe you know it's Eurovision Song.


Isn't that what Europe's about?


If you ask youngsters, they don't have a clue. So you want to make them aware of what Europe does in their daily lives. In their regions. Europe funds per year, or per six years I think it is, more than hundreds of projects, all through Flanders. So it's very important to show them what that impact of Europe is. So the youngsters have a positive vibe about Europe. So with the next elections, they have this positive feeling, and they want to go vote. In a positive way. For Europe.

Just imagine how we felt, at Sylvester, when that briefing came in. Sell Europe to youngsters. Fourteen to eighteen years old. Tell them that Europe is right next to them in their neighbourhood. We have thousands of projects we funded. And go show them that we did this right next to their door. So that was extremely difficult.


And, on top of that, with the innovative technology.


Preferably.


Preferably.


Which is a good idea, of course. Because that's the way to attract young people. They are interested in all this new stuff. In gaming. So you have to do it in a way that attracts them. That appeals to them. That they are, maybe, curious about.


I already heard that you say: okay, we had a brainstorm. We came up with a virtual reality video. We added a story line to that. But even then, how do you make it attractive to that specific audience? Which is a very difficult one.


Well, like I said before, we had a very good collaboration with the client. So, we had, of course, a first, internal, brainstorm. Where we investigated some agencies, like Yonder, for example, who helped us. But also other technologies. We also investigated augmented reality. The client specifically asked for a VR video, but is a VR video the best thing to do? So that's what we investigated internally. But once we decided: let's go for the VR video and let's go with Yonder for that one, we did a very, very long brainstorm session for several hours. With Yonder. With the client. And they were represented by the four European funds, so a lot of people there. With our creative team. At Sylvester.

But also with a few people from the target audience. So they also...


Oh, that's very interesting.


So we had a few members of a school in Brussels who were allowed by their principal to skip a day of school.

 

They were very happy they could be there then.


Yes, they were very happy. But they were also impressed by how it was all organized. The brainstorm. And that their opinion mattered. And we had a few suggestions. We had a few ideas. But it's not a good idea if it doesn't appeal to your target audience. So they were included too. And they had some very big added value to the brainstorm. So we had almost six hours of brainstorm sessions, but it was separated into different topics. Different goals. And at the end of it our script was mostly ready. At the end of the brainstorm. So that was also something that was really important in the process of this project.


Okay, if we then take the step further, to the realization of the project. How do I need to see that video? How was it constructed? You already talked about storytelling. How was all that done?


That's a very important part of the movie: the storytelling. It was important that we...

Normally, if you have VR goggles on, you are let loose. You can do whatever you want in a video.

We wanted to actually guide them through the movie. So we chose to work with a main character. That shows you one project after the other. An innovative farm or a sustainable fishery project. And it's actually this main character that shows you these projects. And it's like a tandem. As viewer, the camera is the viewer position. And he talks directly to you. And so you're very engaged, in the movie. And to make it even more attractive to youngsters, we chose for this main character. Not some random person but a TikTok phenomenon.


Oh boy.


Oh boy.

Yes, these are the social media channels that they are...


Indeed, that's correct. That's how you reach them.


That's how you reach them.

So we chose someone who is really popular in this specific target audience. Elias Verwilt is a TikTok and Instagram influencer. He has, on TikTok, more than 600.000 followers. Mainly in this group of fourteen to sixteen year olds.


He's also that age? Or...


No, he's a little bit older. He's twenty or twenty-one. But he really appeals to this...

He makes funny videos about teachers in classrooms. And he often does this video where he plays two characters. He's, then, and the student and the teacher. And then makes funny memes and stuff like that. Very, very funny. A bit hyperactive but really cool.

Which works.

Which works very well. He has a very expressive face. He makes all these kind of funny looks. It's very funny to look at.

 

So he takes you into that journey.


Exactly. And also in his very own style. A very recognizable own style. Which is very cool to see. And it really appealed to the youngsters. We didn't only use him as a main character in the movie, but also used him as national face for our social media campaign. So it was really on two levels working. And he was really enthusiastic about the project himself. We went with him to these different projects to shoot the movie. And he was like: oh, look at this.


So it was really a genuine reaction.


Yes an actual authentic impression that he showed.


How is that: working with an influencer? Because influencers like to do it their way. On the other hand, you also have your brief. You want to deliver in a certain way.

Can you steer them? Or...


First of all, it's about finding the right match. So, Elias wasn't the only person we contacted. But it was very much the first one where we felt a really good connection. He understood the project. He was very enthusiastic about it. And I think that was the main reason why we chose him. Over the other ones.

It was a very organic process as well. I have, like, hours of WhatsApp conversations with him. Where he proposed his TikTok story or his Instagram story that he wanted to make. He sent some screenshots and I was, like, commenting on it. And saying: don't forget the hashtag this and the hashtag #youaremyregion, #youareatmyschool. These kinds of things. So: oh yes, okay. And then he...

Yes, it's really hours of conversation.

And at first we did our research. Because you don't want to have an influencer...

Everybody has his own style. You want to have, of course, somebody who is, if you see Europe as a brand, matches with the brand. And that was, with Elias, already okay. And then his enthusiasm was also very okay. And then we started going back and forth again, also, with him. So the story line is adapted to the style of Elias. And not the other way around. Because, if you want to use an influencer, it's needed to let them be themselves. Otherwise it's not authentic and for people in the target audience: if they're not authentic, they don't believe your story and they drop out. Because, in the end the video was like about three minutes. But someone in the target audience of the fourteen to eighteen, they choose in a few seconds. If this is something they want to watch or they don't want to watch. So they drop out very fast. So if you don't let the influencer speak in the way he normally does, the whole thing, it all falls apart. With Elias, the connection...

We didn't have to steer him too much. Because we already knew he was good as ambassador. And, well, we adapted a little bit of our things. To make him feel comfortable in his home.


But, in the talk we had before we started shooting you also mentioned that it was not only Elias taking people into that journey. There were also a lot of other things and gimmicks going on in the video, if you started looking around. Because it is a virtual reality video.


It is a 360° experience. So you have to use this 360° environment where you are, as a viewer. So we have the main character guiding you through the story. But in the meantime, if you're looking around and you just want to see, there were many small things that we introduced in the video. Like some extra sounds or extra graphics or funny emojis. For example the "mest" robot in the farm.

The manure robot.

And then we used like a little shit emoji.


Yes, but that's the language of the young.


That's the language they like, exactly.


So you should use that.


We also put a lot of effort into those details. So when the video was completely done, the work on all those little things just started. It's a 360° video. So when Elias is talking to you directly, also stuff over here is happening. And also stuff over there is happening. And that's a process. With our own creative team, at Sylvester, we went...

Every time we saw a new version of the video, we went back to it. Okay, what more can we do? What can we do to improve the user experience even more? So we also put really a lot of effort in the other extra things. In the music, in...

It's different layers that have to...

It's all about different layers, yes. The sound effects about things happening behind you. And making you want to look around.

Which, as a result, had that, when we went with the video to the schools and students watched the video, they wanted to see it again. Because you hadn't seen everything the first time.


You missed some parts.


The first time you see the movie, you're very: oh, what's this. And then you finish the movie and then you're: I want to see it again, because so much happened.


It's good that you mention that you went with the video to the schools. Because until now we had a great video, but then it needed to be delivered to the right target audience. How did that go? It was a roadshow, I understood?


Yes, that was also a very difficult part about the roadshow. Where can we meet our target audience? Because it's not like, I'm going to sound very old at this point, in my time. You could go to the neighbourhood with all the bars and you could find them over there. That's mostly over. That's done. So the schools were most likely the best option to get this roadshow going. And to have the maximum...

...effect out of it.

 

Yes, with these high target numbers that we had from the client: they wanted 8.000 to 10.000 students to see the movie. You have to go to where they are, so schools are a very logical approach.


That's an ambitious target. If you have a VR movie for 3 minutes and you know: so many students. How did you tackle that?


Well, first of all we told the client: slow down. 6.000, that will be great. That will be fantastic. But they kept pushing to the 8.000 to 10.000.


Yes and with the client, we have a very good relationship. So we brought ideas. They brought ideas. And, together, we formed a solution with this brand activation stand. Where we can put ten students at a time. With ten VR goggles at a time. With a sync app so we can start one movie in ten goggles at one time. So we had, like, a flow of eight hundred students a day.


Eight hundred a day?


When we went to a school and started with the first hour...

A class hour. And then every hour: check, check, check. At the end: eight hundred a day.

And that's also something the client really added. The main person we spoke with was Jasper. Jasper Vervloet. And he also has a teacher background. So what he did is...

We made some technical information about the technical details of the stand. But he added something very valuable for the schools. And that's the learning process for the school. So something they could integrate into their lessons. Normally, if the teacher wants to talk about Europe, it's mainly like when we, at Sylvester, received the briefing, it's like: that will be a difficult story. But they also saw in the schools, once they had seen the roadshow or they knew the roadshow was coming, they were more open to learn a little bit about Europe. But the schools were very happy with us coming over there. And that's also the reason why, this may be a spoiler already, but the roadshow will get a second part in September. Because so many schools saw the results and they now also want to have a visit from the roadshow. So they can also integrate this in their package of lessons.


If there will be a second tour, I also assume the results of the campaign itself were very good and positive. How did you measure that?


We counted every student.


Of course you have, but I also think you did some research into whether the message takes. Whether they, eventually, will start voting and have interest in Europe.


Yes, exactly. There's some impact analysis being done.

First of all we have a number of total students that visited the roadshow. Because we had numbers from the schools of students coming by.

We reached our targets.


Congratulations.


We had 9.210...


Oh, even more than expected.


Well, it was 8.000 to 10.000, so let's say it was on target.

On target.

 

But a very ambitious target.

So that's already a first good point. But then, when the students had seen the movie, they could fill out a fun quiz afterwards. With questions about the movie. And about the European projects. To see if they really gained some extra information. If they really learned something. From the movie. And the results were very good. They answered all the yes or no questions correctly. Which was really good. And then, next to that, we also did some impact analysis with some questions. Sometimes just speak out to ask whether they liked the experience. If they learned something about Europe. If they want to learn more about Europe. And the results were really good.


And can you tell me how good?


Can we, already?

Well, the results were a bit...

Jasper told us they're a bit Stalinistic. So, it was about two hundred persons who were interviewed with the survey. For the record, it was the clients himself who did the survey. So we were not involved. He did it...


You didn't cheat anything.


No, no. But it was 100%. So everybody liked the way we presented it.

They thought it was a fun way of learning about Europe.


Okay, that's already impressive.


And then 92% said they learned something about it. That they didn't know before. And about 80% was willing to learn even more about the projects they saw in...


Oh, but that's an impressive result. Especially if you keep in consideration the target audience you're working with.


Of course, yes.

And the abstract product that we sold.


Indeed, also. Also that, yes.


And so, because the results were so impressive, we also worked together with the European Commission, because they globalize the European funds, our roadshow is now travelling through Europe as best practice. To show other countries how to attract people in the target audience. Because it's not in Belgium that it's difficult to reach them. It's everywhere in Europe. Probably everywhere in the world, it's really difficult to them in their living...

So, our complete project, making a VR film and going to schools with the roadshow, this whole idea is being shown to other communication services, all through Europe. As a best practice.


Sustainability is also an important topic in Europe.


True.

 

I can imagine that was also a requirement. Or at least needed to be incorporated in the roadshow. How do you look at that, as an agency?


First of all we wanted to make something that was "lasting", let's say. So something that could be used, not only today, but even in a year or two years. The movie has now been made and can be used over and over again. As shown. We will have a second roadshow this fall. But maybe next year as well. Maybe in other countries as well. So that in itself is already a very sustainable thing. But next to that we also wanted the brand activation itself to be sustainable. We used, for the stand, some really nice inflatables. We branded them in the European colours, blue and yellow. So, it's like a blue structure with the yellow stars. Very recognizable. Very European. And only the side panels of the tent, to close or to make walls, were branded in the real campaign style. With our influencer, Elias, very central on the side panels. But these side panels can easily be exchanged for others.

So the main structure can be used for other projects the European Commission or the European funds are organizing. And they just have to order different side panels. Which is, in a way, a lot cheaper, but also a lot more sustainable.

Yes, everything is reusable and because they were inflatables, everything could fit into a very small van.

So we calculated the space that we needed with the chairs and the desk. And everything fitted in a really small van so also the carbon footprint was as low as possible. On this roadshow. So we kept in mind every detail of the roadshow. To ensure that the sustainability was okay.

We even tried to plan the school visits. Like: all schools in Western Flanders were done in the same days. So the person who...

We had a team manager leading the project on site. He could stay there so he doesn't have to go all across Flanders.


Makes sense.


These are little details that really have a big impact.


Yes, those make the difference. Maybe as a last question. What was; for you guys, the biggest challenge in this project?


I'm going to let you respond to your thing. My thing, because I mostly did the start of the project, was timing. So, we received the briefing at the end of December. But then you still need to go through the whole creative process. So it was about the start of February until we were up and running with the...

We had the brainstorms done. We had our vision. We started writing the script. But at that point we needed to shoot the video. You see it over there. On the screen. You have like a camera, with seven cameras. And once we had finished the shooting the real work started. Because you have, like, footage from these seven cameras and they need to be one image. So there is a lot of stitching, it's called, done by Yonder. But that's manual work. So they have a software that does the beginning. But all the rest has to be done manually. So we were really up to the deadline with this kind of video. So timing was a big issue.

Because we had a very clear day that they wanted to start the roadshow. Which was Europe Day. The ninth of May, like I said at the beginning.

 

So from December. And then the whole project should stand at the beginning of May.


Yes, our first test day was the second of May.


Okay, I understand why timing was an issue.


Timing was very, very difficult. And also...

And also budget. The total budget for this project was 100.000 euros. Which sounds like a lot but isn't a lot.


No, indeed. It is much lower than what I would have expected when I hear you telling this whole story.


Especially when you go from the whole concept phase until the production phase.

It's not much. And especially with the high target numbers we got in the beginning from the client. Very ambitious target. We were happy we were able to make it as efficient as possible. To be able to reach as many pupils as possible. To have a very good online campaign as well. But within the limited amount, it wasn't easy. But...

Just to make sure: the budget, the 100.000, it was the concept, it was the creation, it was the roadshow.

It was the script. It was the film.

But also the campaign. Partly. We also had a little bit of support from the European Commission. We also had a few micro-influencers. To help out the campaign. They were strong in, for example, Antwerp or somebody else was strong in, for example, Brussels. But everything was included in that budget. So also the campaign.


That's impressive. And...


Yes, I think the secret to the success is, as well, the very good relationship we had with the client. It was really a teamwork. I've never seen that before. That a client is so involved and working along to get to the result. I think that's a very...

Yes, because the roadshow was mainly like a toolbox. That was given to the client. We had one logistic manager. Who went from location to location to help out. But on the stand itself, it were people from the four funds themselves.

And volunteers.

And volunteers. Which the client searched for. So it was a great collaboration. To get everything, also within the budget. So, not only the Sylvester part, doing their job to keep within budget, it was also the client who said like: okay, this is in the budget. Let's do that with volunteers. Okay, this is in the budget. We can do it like that. And that's the way it worked out. Within the budget.


A very impressive case. Thank you so much for sharing it with us, here.


Thank you for inviting us.

Thank you for the time, yes.


And you, at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week.

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