Culture Bombs, Authenticity And Sustainability

Culture Bombs, Authenticity And Sustainability

Culture Bombs, Authenticity And Sustainability

EMS is Back and Pumping Everyone Full of Inspiration

Event Marketer’s annual summit EMS is three days packed full of keynotes, breakouts, workshops, and networking meetings all focused on what’s happening in the events industry. The summit also offers a tradeshow full of event tech and resources as well as the Ex Awards (thank you for recognizing our Cause Campaign for Cartoonito!). Soaking up insights around event strategy trends is always inspiring and keeps us focused on the bigger picture – producing moments of impact and influence. With that, let’s get into the hot topics coming out of EMS 2022.

Cultural Bombs, Our New Fav Phrase

EMS 2022 opened with two empowering keynotes from key leaders in the Food & Bev world: CMO, Todd Kaplan at Pepsi and Jamey Sunshine, Director, Experiential at Nestle USA.

Kaplan waxed poetic about creating culture bombs and meeting consumers where they are. Cultural bombs are culturally relevant experiences that make waves and deliver true impact in the world. If the experience isn’t cool enough that you would want to go to it yourself, call BS, go back to the drawing board, and tweak the idea until it is. Strive to build “opt-in” content and experiences – experiences that are distinctive, memorable, and ones that sell themselves.

Nestle’s Jamey Sunshine touched on very similar themes but emphasized the importance of using the digital world as an enabler in your experiential game plans, specifically through the use of influencers and creating authentic partnerships with local communities. Influencers have become a huge success factor at Nestle as they are a more organic way to reach consumers by speaking through them, not to them. A hot tip: Build experiences with consumers…they want to be a part of the journey, not to be “sold” or “bought.”

The Key to Reaching Gen Z – Authenticity

One theme was screaming out throughout EMS this week – and that theme was AUTHENTICITY. No matter the session, the common denominator between all of these successes was authentic marketing. No generation cares more about authenticity than Gen Z. As Gen Z continues to reshape consumerism, marketers are taking note and changing the way their brands interact. Here’s how to show up authentically:

  1. Gen Z is a tribe of allies, and they want representation. They are more likely to interact with a brand that focuses on representation.  And it’s important to note that representation does not necessarily mean representation of their personal background, culture, religion, etc. They just want to see diversity – no matter the type.
  2. Gen Z is more likely to support a brand that supports a passion point or community affinity that matters to them.  This could be anything from a sports team to politics.
  3. Gen Z is staying up to date with current events.  They are more in tune with reality than previous generations and want to see that reflected in brand engagement.
  4. DO NOT – I repeat – DO NOT give Gen Z a giveaway that is not reusable, has a bunch of packaging, something wasteful.
  5. Gen Z cares more about the WHY.  If you are trying to motivate a Gen Z team member, employee, or consumer – give them a reason.  Gen Z cares less about money and more about a cause.

Just Start – That’s How We Do Sustainability

Sustainability is making an impact where it matters the MOST.

We are all uber conscious of how wasteful a single experience can be. From food to custom builds, to swag – there is no shortage of areas that need improvement. Cisco’s Desiree Hamilton spoke on how they got their sustainability initiatives kicked off and we sprinted over to hear it. A simple but powerful notion was shared. Just start. Sustainability initiatives can be daunting and expensive.  But instead of tackling everything at once, focus on one thing. Make changes one at a time, event by event.  Some incredibly simple solutions:

Food Waste

  • Food Banks – All that extra food leftover after an event? Local food banks will pick up that food and flash freeze it to give it back to the community.
  • Livestock – several companies will take your leftovers for livestock feed


  • Water Bottles – Instead of giving guests a new water bottle – encourage them to bring their own.
  • Check out Fill it Forward – a company with QR codes on their bottles. Every time you refill their bottle, scan the QR Code, and Fill it Forward gives clean water to a community in need.  Ten Trees – this company makes t-shirts from recycled materials and plants ten trees for every t-shirt you purchase.


  • Work with companies that use re-skinnable fabrications or offer rentals instead of building custom
  • Recycled Banners – there are several companies out there that will take your event banners and recycle them into things like dog toys, playground materials, etc.

In summary: Be authentic with your consumers and invite them in on the process and experience. Well, say it again. SUSTAINABILITY. Strive for sustainability where you can and one step at a time. And lastly, the world is shifting rapidly and so is event strategy and trends. Until 2023, we’ll be doing our best to zig where others zag. Stay tuned!