I just got back from the Blue Lithium party at the swanky Ruby Skye nightclub in San Francisco, which was the official closing shindig of the amazingly popular AdTech conference this week.
Verdict: Largely lousy. Here’s why:
– The music was so loud it was nearly impossible to carry on a conversation. Even from literally more than one foot away. For a networking event, the inability to do any networking is a serious liability, IMHO.
– There were no quiet areas at all.
– The floor was sticky. Everywhere.
– Alcohol wasn’t free. And it sure as hell wasn’t cheap, either.
All of that might have been at least slightly forgiven, especially given the simply fabulous trapeze show featuring some amazingly talented Cirque du Soleil performers.
But Blue Lithium — the generous but not-too-savvy sponsor of the event — bombed where it really counts: in the branding.
Sure, there were Blue Lithium banners galore. But what many of us will remember the event for — painfully — is the atrociously awkward 10-15 minutes right after the breathtaking trapeze act, in which:
– A couple of Blue Lithium folks got up to say a few words about the party and their company, but were mostly rendered unintelligible due to sound system problems.
– They spent at least five minutes experiencing technical problems, trying to get a Flash presentation to show (with sound) to a bunch of already-antsy and just-wanting-to-dance-and-drink party-goers.
– The five minute (but seemingly much longer) presentation itself — a casebook example of how *NOT* to sell to anyone, much less a bunch of impatient drunken revelers — was so laden with sickly-cheerful and obnoxiously-effusive marketing speak and tech-jargon that at least a few folks around me were actually starting to boo. The rest of the crowd, at minimum, rolled their eyes. A guy next to me commented: “If their marketing guy isn’t fired tomorrow morning, I’ll be really surprised.” I agree.
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So what does the Blue Lithium company actually do? Don’t ask me. Something about advertising, I think… which really isn’t all that much of a stretch, given that the conference was about advertising. Would I ever recommend Blue Lithium to a client? Given the fact that they spent undoubtedly tens of thousands of dollars on this event and managed to stupendously squander their good will with marketing incompetence, I’d have to say they’re certainly not likely to be at the top of my recommendation list.
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In stark contrast with this was the “Google Dance 2003” party I attended. How so? Well, Google offered:
– Free booze
– Free food
– $300 gift certificates for their AdWords service!
– Actual product demonstrations, tech Q&A, and other very useful substantive offerings… OFF the dance floor… that complemented rather than interrupted the party.
– A great selection of environments and stuff to do, since it was held in a comfy park rather than a swanky closed club. There was the loud and pulsing dance floor (complete with jumbo-tron style video screen), tables for sitting down and eating, a large (and quieter) grassy area with blankets to sit on, bouncy balls to kick, a fooseball table to play on, and much more. And most importantly, there was plenty of room and opportunity to network, chat, schmooze, and shake your booty.
In other words, Google managed to cater to the interests of a broad variety of folks, present a large swath of its services to OPENLY interested businesspeople, and did so probably without spending all that much more than Blue Lithium did to rent the no-doubt-awfully-expensive Ruby Skye club.
At the party this evening, I was just one of many folks who looked bewildered, annoyed, and bored (the fact that the music was, IMHO, downright sucky didn’t help matters). Whereas at the Google party, I think the pictures speak for themselves.
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Sure, I feel a bit bad that I’m being such an ungrateful jerk about the Blue Lithium event. But I prefer to think of it as tough love; if enough folks communicate their displeasure as bluntly as I have here, Blue Lithium will likely save a lot of money and quite a bit of anguish in the future.