BCD M&E launched The Collective last week, an “agency within an agency offering next-level brand experiences that go beyond the traditional event”.
Beginning in the US and UK markets, this brand-centric, consultative, and creative group within BCD M&E is the culmination of organic growth and acquisition over the past few years.
We caught up with Emma Coleman, VP, The Collective, for BCD M&E in the UK to find out more…
You’ve described The Collective as an agency within an agency. Can you elaborate?
“My team in the UK, which is now The Collective, have always worked consultatively with clients on bespoke creative solutions. What’s brilliant for us and for clients, is that we have also got the backing of a massive global organisation.
What The collective gives us is the best of both worlds. You have this really niche group of specialists working on incredible solutions for clients in the creative experience space, but we also have a global organisation, that is really financially stable with a very solid infrastructure and a fantastic supply network. So we can lean on that as and when we need to, if and when we need to.
It’s not a new offering, but more of a refocus. It’s always been part of our DNA in the UK and has been a very intentional area of investment for the business over a number of years, with the acquisitions of Zibrant and Grass Roots. But what The Collective has enabled us to do is refocus on what we are really good at – the creative experience and delegate engagement.
What services does The Collective offer?
It’s all about telling the story. And how you tell the story of a brand, whether that’s through a comms campaign, or whether it’s through a virtual event or a live event or a piece of film, it’s about that messaging. The way that we approach things is really listening and understanding what our client’s challenge is and coming at them with different solutions to that. Every solution is different, and every solution is bespoke. It isn’t about taking something off the shelf and making it fit.
Some of our strategic clients, that have that solid meetings programme, we can still breathe life into their programme around the creative, the content and the story telling.
You are initially launching in the UK & US. Do you plan to role The Collective out across all BCD offices?
This has been an intentional investment area for the business. Have the belief that this creative community will grow globally for us. Yes we have this offering in the UK and the US. But as we continue to grow this service line, I can only see it growing geographically too.
We also work across borders with clients too. For example we work European clients, to deliver solutions for them. When it comes to multi-national stakeholder communities, the location you deliver from becomes less relevant. There will always be times where you do need local language speakers and locally based resource.
What kind of solutions are clients looking for at the moment?
How do you engage people virtually! I think that is everybody’s challenge now. We all know how tough it has been working in a remote environment and really getting that engagement form people in a virtual way. We have made some really fantastic leaps forward in terms of tech innovation, to be able to really improve the engagement and network offering, and realty connecting people not just on-screen at the event but before, during and after as we would do in a real-life environment. You have to work really hard to get and to keep peoples attention in the virtual environment.
What’s your outlook for the rest of 2021?
Everything is going in the right direction for sure, and it will be interesting to see the results of the test events and what the science informs us. We are seeing an increase in enquiries for live events, and it feels like we are making those steps forward, but that’s just for UK events at the moment. That virtual delivery cross-border will be around for some time and that is definitely something we are still seeing. Hybrid will also be a big part of some client’s plans going forward.
From a UK perspective, if people can get in a room face-to-face they will do as soon as they can. I think the focus on virtual has had a really positive impact in many ways – I never thought I would say that out loud. It has allowed clients to do is to see how they can amplify their message to a much wider audience, and I really think that brands will continue to look at how they do that moving forward.
We are starting to see some interest in incentive travel again. There are obviously lots of considerations on what that might look like and which destinations will be open for travel with the red, amber and green traffic light system. But clients are keen to start recognising their people and talking about the prospect of travel again, which feels like an incredibly positive discussion to be having.