Let’s confess: great sex, as well as a great event, is rarity. It’s even safe to say that it’s the event in itself. Analysis of its ingredients could be really helpful and demonstrative, for there is actually much more similarity in these two things than one could think—and it’s not limited by ‘it’s hard as fuck!’ meme. So, even if you will never organize any events, armed with this knowledge, you will be able at least to re-organize your sex life in a better way. : )
Now try to recall your best sex experience. No, seriously. Why is it etched on your memory? What factors contributed to it? Loss of control, escape from the routine, unusual context? A skilled partner, passion, affection? What was it? Let’s generalize and denote some universal factors that make sex great.
INGREDIENTS OF GREAT SEX:
1. Attraction: passionate desire to possess, to belong, to merge with someone. The stronger the craving, the more powerful delight when it’s finally satisfied.
2. Trance: an altered state of mind featured by reduced self-control, being in ‘the flow’ and focusing on one’s inner sensations. First thing needed for success in such a spontaneous sphere as sex is spontaneity—the skill to slip into this parallel reality of sensuality (‘to switch off the head’) and the ability to pull the other after you (‘to blow the other’s mind’).
3. Empathy: the ability to feel emotional needs and desires of the other. Dealing with someone who attuned to you, resonates with you and guesses your desires before you vocalize them amplifies the pleasure.
4. Technique: skills and experience definitely wouldn’t harm anyone.
5. Love: adds a huge spectrum of bright sensations (to the degree of psychodelic ones) and compensates all the shortcomings of technique or entourage.
After a closer look it gets obvious that elements of good sex are totally applicable to a great event. Let’s go deeper into each of them in the context of event-making.
1. ATTRACTION. LAW OF GRAVITATION
Seduction is always more singular and sublime than sex
and it commands the higher price. — Jean Baudrillard
It’s impossible to have good sex without gravitation between people, neither is it possible to have a good event if your audience doesn’t want you—so first and foremost you have to attract it. ‘Attract’ means to infatuate the other, to ignite in them the desire to touch something what is percepted as beautiful and significant. The desire to seize it and make it own, to become a part of it. In other word, to be irrepressibly appealing for the one you want to appeal. It’s called seduction and it’s a fascinating love game.
Now let’s go back to events. Attracting the group of people is almost the same as alluring someone—the audience is not some abstraction, it consists of individual hearts and minds that you can entice away with your project. Knowing needs, dreams and sensitive points relevant for every subgroup of your Target Audience, knowing their ego ideal, you can work with these things and build the communication appealing to them. An event is a climax of the process of seducing your TA, and although it is very significant and shouldn’t be disappointing in any aspect, yet the most important thing happens before it. It’s in the process of communication you have to excite your audience, intrigue them, build their expectations, become significant part of their lives, make them dreaming about you and craving you. By the moment of the event your audience should be already heated and eager, wired and high on anticipation, they must long and rush for your event—thousands miles away, buying tickets months in advance. This is what great annual festivals like Burning Man and Coachella do. This is the very minimum your communication strategy should aim at.
2. TRANCE. MINDBLOWING FACTOR
The gesture of the amorous embrace seems to fulfill,
for a time, the subject’s dream of total union with the loved being:
The longing for consummation with the other…
In this moment, everything is suspended: time, law, prohibition.
― Roland Barthes
Scientifically speaking, trance is an altered state of consciousness, kind of intoxicating sensation similar to the effect of alcohol. Like the last, it’s associated with deactivation of some zones of the frontal cortex, reducing the consciousness’ control and anxiety and exacerbating the sensation of pleasure. It’s a state of flux, a parallel realm of chaos, spontaneousness, sensuality and passion that great sex is unthinkable without—it’s crucial to ‘switch the head off’ and slip into trance enthralling a partner with you. It’s not easy, for this state is elemental, irrational and uncontrollable; that’s why people tend to use alcohol and drugs—well, okay, some use meditation—to ease entering there.
Developing the analogy: in order to make a great event, you have to give this mindblowing experience to your audience. We are not saying that you have to mindfuck it, tho’ in certain cases, if done masterly and tenderly, it can be very effective—Michael Jackson, one of the greatest entertainers ever, was a great mindfucker, actually. But we experience a sort of trance not only when our libido takes over our mind, but also when we are totally captured by some process and enjoying it—dancing, making or listening music, writing, reading, exercising, working absorbedly—at this moment we are literally and naturally ‘high’ on what we are doing. Give this ‘dope’ to your audience. Give them self-oblivion, give a process that would be ‘a flow’ where they can abide. Grow tension and suspense that will result in the ecstasy of long-awaited re-unity. In the frame of an event ‘immersion in trance’ is also achieved through audiovisual stimuluses appealing to all the senses—such as music, light, show, design, art objects, decorations. Well, okay, bars at a venue help too. ; )
But your task is not only building and designing some breathtaking physical space, but creating another conditional reality with different rules—something of a game or a role play providing people an escape from everyday life. An alternate world with a greater degree of freedom and self-expression, where they can be someone different, activate their alter-egos and unleash their creativity, be a bit more wild, spontaneous, carefree, and in the end a bit more happy. And that work is rather mental and about your brand ideology and communications, than about construction work at a venue. (this is the topic of our next posts.)
And, as we already said, one of the ways to provide trance is to enthrall the other with you, for passion is contagious. But it’s unfeignable—you can’t ignite passion in anyone if you are dispassionate yourself and just imitate it. You have to burn for real, be in love with what you do, be passionate about your project in order to infect people with your ideas, to captivate and direct their attention, and flabbergast them eventually.
3. EMPATHY. I FEEL YOU
Empathy is an in-built tool of your psyche that allows you to feel and calibrate other people, understand their emotions, motivations, desires, behavior. Although passion is contagious, it’s kind of hard to enjoy sex with a partner who, ironcally, doesn’t give a fuck about you and just use you as a tool for deriving own pleasure. The same is about your target audience. If you are focused on your tasks, goals and benefits only, on your sells and rates, you won’t be able to see what your audience’s real needs and expectations are. Only understanding the TA’s actual emotions, their pains, desires and perception changing through the campaign, you can manage the process of communication, direct it, improvising on the way and giving people what they truly need. Empathy allows to read your audience’s hearts and minds like your own, and induce in every person this exciting electric feeling as if everything what’s going on was tailored exclusively for them. It creates that amazing effect when everyone in a crowd of thousands feels like you address them personally. And your message resonates in every heart, opening it to you, forming invisible but strong ties. Passion coupled with empathy can give birth to many great things, even to love.
4. TECHNIQUE. MUST BE PERFECT
By technique we mean knowledge what buttons to push on (figuratively and literally) and technology proficiency: deep knowledge on the technology of event organizing, promotion and show production. Knowledge of business rules, laws of genres, dramaturgy and perception. The process, team and risk management. Knowledge of marketing principles and your TA’s attributes. The wider the knowledge and higher the professional level, the better. Your technique must tend to perfection.
5. LOVE. MAGICAL DIMENSION
‘The idealism of Love is the new realism of business.
By building respect and inspiring Love, business can move the world.’
Of course, both sex and an event can go well without love—attraction, technique and a blown mind are quite enough. But, just as love compensates all the flaws of sex, the same way it masks all the project’s failures and technical glitches (which are inevitable, since we all learn and make mistakes). The audience’s love is an incredible asset and an ‘airbag’ that will secure you even if you fail badly—the loyal audience will forgive you some screw-ups the same way we forgive our beloved ones. It can’t justify a project’s low quality, but shit sometimes happens, so the enamored tolerant audience is definitely in your strategic interests. Give people the sense of belonging to something great, meaningful, charming and they will become your own powerful army of promoters and the word-spreaders. But even this is not really significant. Love is that only ingredient that turns a sexual intercourse into ‘making love’ and turns an event into ‘the experience of lifetime’. Only this 5th element can give everything what’s going on between you and your audience the additional magical dimension. So, the maximum program of your campaign is to make people fall in love with your project.
It was impossible not to mention here Kevin Roberts, the ex-worldwide CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi and the author of a revolutionary marketing concept described in the beautiful book ‘Lovemarks: the future beyond brands‘. His philosophy of ‘lovemarks‘—beloved brands we have irrational affection for—resonates with our approach so much that this article could even be considered a tribute to the man. His famous formula of a lovemark is based on 3 elements: mystery, sensuality and intimacy. They, in turn, are realized through following things:
MYSTERY: Great stories. Past, present, future. Taps into dreams. Myths and icons. Inspiration.
SENSUALITY: Sound. Sight. Smell. Touch. Taste.
INTIMACY: Commitment. Empathy. Passion.
‘There are three secrets to emotional thinking—mystery, sensuality and intimacy. It is a lot about story telling. Brands need to tell stories on their websites, on their packaging and so on. Make sure your brand and company has a smell, it has a sound, it has a feel and an intimacy with people. Think about how you can build empathy.’ We thought about it even before reading this terrific book a decade ago and are glad to be on the same page with Mr. Roberts.
3 STAGES OF AN EVENT
1. COMMUNICATION STRATEGY AS A PRELUDE
‘Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other.
It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip
of my words. My language trembles with desire.’ — Roland Barthes
By a prelude, the purpose of which is to turn on a partner, is often meant some formal and asexual fuss in the beginning of a sexual act. But we think that a top-notch prelude begins at the moment when you first time exchange an interested gaze. Then you should grow that volatile initial interest into appetence, escalate it to the maximum and turn into affection. Preferably, into love.
In the sense of organizing an event a prelude begins at the moment when you launch your campaign, present your brand or project first time, utter your first word. You should capture the audience’s attention at the first sight and retain it. The task of communication campaign is to broadcast your brand’s essence and ideology (and temper, and spirit), but in such a way so that the TA you laid your eyes on got hooked. Know their hooks, memes and preferences, seize their attention and grow into steady interest, then into the strong desire to be involved in your project. Using passion, empathy, technical skills you have to magnetize and electrify the air, to make the audience think of you and want you. In short, you have to charm your audience, and for that you have to be… come on, it’s easy— you have to be charming! Interesting, intriguing, exciting, bold, funny, warm, unpredictable—simple as that. : )
We will consider some tricks in the next blog.
*Key elements here: attraction, technique, trance, love, empathy
2. AN EVENT AS A CLIMAX
The Climax is the principle part of the story for which all the machinery
of planning and constructing has been set in motion. — Syd Field
If promo campaign is a prelude and marketing communication is supposed to captivate and seduce the audience, capture their attention and conquer their hearts and minds, then the event itself is culmination of all your efforts, long-awaited merging with your audience. That, in turn, is also eager of your event and fairly expects from it an emotional orgasm and reboot.
Speaking in dramaturgy terms, everything you do, all your communications and actions is a narrative, a tale you start telling from day one of your promo campaign. An event is a climax of this story, its obligatory scene and denouement—the highest point of tension and excitement, resolution and expression of the core idea. You have to be technically and empathetically precise on this stage too, and give the audience what it wants: a desired catharsis (albeit not in the way it expects—this is the first commandment of a good director). So yes, regardless of how big your event is, for 100 or for 100K people, made on corporate brands’ money or funded by an NGO, it must touch people, shift their perception, be a strong emotional experience.
But hey, if your promo campaign was performed well, by the moment of an event your public would be already crazy about you, tuned and turned on. Just don’t make rough mistakes during an event and do not disappoint them.
*Key elements here: technique, trance, empathy
3. POST-EVENT COMMUNICATION
‘Post coitum omne animal triste est’. — Galen
‘After sexual union, each of the animals is sad’. And after a saturated event people can feel overwhelmed, exhausted, nostalgic or a bit sad (especially if it was a great event). Utilized in a right way, these emotions can reinforce the emotional connection and closeness with your audience.
Only indifferent, short-sighted and unprofessional people can make an event, earn some bucks and points and then relax. Don’t turn away to the wall—this is not a one-night stand, you are building relationships with your audience. Tenderness, gratitude, ‘it’s been so cool, we have to repeat it!’—this is the message at this stage. Use this time to make people start dreaming about the next event right away. Retaining attention is not less important than capturing it and if you managed to win the audience’s heart, it’d be very stupid to lose it due to ignoring post-event communication.
*Key element here: empathy
Now we are going to break the 4th wall and confess that we cheated a bit, having lured you into believing that we would talk about sex here. And then gradually shifted accents towards a trivial idea that love is the main ingredient of both good sex and a great event. Not because we are romantics to the bone, but because love is the most breathtaking attraction that ever existed, more terrific than those at Six Flags. And game, tease, entice, interest, thrill, affection are not only love’s attributes, but also inalienable components to the great entertainment. So why not use them?
See, we are cynical to the core.)
In the end we would love to mention Kevin Roberts and his concept of a lovemark once again. In spite of simplicity and beauty of this notion that now became a full-fledged marketing term, it was percepted as very provocative and ambiguous at the time of its appearance.
‘Lovemarks was a vehicle to move clients to more emotional territory. Some were asking to be taken there because they too were realizing that more information would not move more product. Rather than asking “how much metal did you move today?”, we reframed the question “how much does the metal move you?” In other instances, clients ran away from Lovemarks and the L word because it was too provocative, but two things happened. We found alternative language that people were comfortable with such as ‘Loyalty Beyond Reason’ to represent the same idea. And we were subversive. One of the examples I’ve put out there to doubters is — what answer do you think I always get when I ask CEOs this question: ‘Do you want your brand to be liked? Or do you want your brand to be liked AND loved?” Put this way, it’s a no-brainer.’ — Kevin Roberts
We hope that now, 12 years later, there is no need for cautious and smooth formulations and that business people are not confused with the ‘L word’ anymore and on the contrary strive for it. We do really hope so. Even if not, we are going to keep being subversive and put it even more straightforwardly, at the risk of sounding cynical and provocative:
If you want to create not just some events, but awesome, amazing, breathtaking, spectacular, thrilling, exciting, mindblowing, unbelievably wonderful experience, you have to know how to amaze, to thrill, to take a breath away, to blow minds. If you want your project to be loved, you have to know how to incite love. So we are talking here of making love, literally—how to love your audience, how to make them love your project. All of us should learn to be skillful empathetic lovers, learn to cause, retain and grow love—and so should brands. They should learn to become magnetic, seduce their customers, make them fall in love with their products and ideas. Because there’s just one thing in life that every human being desires more than to be loved.
* Based on a lecture for event-makers
** ‘Sex part’ is based on works of the Russian psychologist/sexologists Marina Komissarova