Hybrid inspiration from Cogs & Marvel

We hope you’ve been as inspired by the expert voices on hosting hybrids as we have been. For the next piece in our hybrid series, we’ve set our sights across the Atlantic! We are delighted to share a U.S. perspective from Joanna Olszowski VP, Client Partnerships and Jamie Shaw, Creative Director of Cogs & Marvel.

While the new ‘normal’ can seem overwhelming, Joanna and Jamie point out the ways in which you can use this to your advantage and find a whole new way of engaging with a much bigger audience.

Joanna Olszowski and Jamie Shaw, Cogs & Marvel, U.S. Office


The opportunity

The world looks different now. And for the live event industry, that outlook can feel very bleak. Everyone’s in “pivot” mode and yet there are so many questions about what to do, how to do it, what platforms to use, and what content to create.

We can simplify this dilemma by boiling these questions down to one simple statement: Never has strategy and storytelling been so important. Stop thinking about the platform you’ll use, the technician you’ll hire to moderate your livestream or the webinar slides you’ll use for content. You can figure that out when you know why you’re gathering people and what you’re communicating. If you’re focusing on the functional elements, you’ve already missed the opportunity.

When brand experiences were mostly built in physical environments, you could fall back on cool spaces and cocktails to bring people around. In the digital landscape, there are no stylish venues and tasting menus (unless there are, and we’ll get to that). Now, the content has to deliver in a whole new way, so if you’re starting with the words “platform”, “webinar”, or “facilitator” let’s take a beat.

For a virtual event to shine, it’s got to deliver the same good feeling one might experience in a physical space—it’s got to feel like a destination, a happening, with energy and surprises, compelling content, and emotional connection. To build and facilitate those things in digital space means telling a story that unfolds itself in creative ways. It might cross platforms. It might put tangible items (or edible delights) in people’s hands. It might have an app, a game, or AR to bring it to life. And it might invite some people to a physical touchpoint (outdoors, on a rooftop, for example). What it won’t do is simply announce itself as a webinar with slides.

New ways

Now does that mean you won’t use physical space at all? Of course not. It means you’ll use it in new ways. At Tobacco Dock, for instance, they have an array of breakout spaces, which can be used for shoots, livestream sets, or broadcast hubs that generate content for a global audience. Whereas a venue like this might have held +3,000 local people for an event, now it becomes the central touchpoint from which to reach a far broader, global audience with professionally staged sets, live-streamed programs, virtual demonstrations across countries and time zones, and the like. Sure, everyone is accustomed to connecting virtually now, but your brand presentation should be coming through in a professional manner, not from disparate environments in people’s homes with distractions, poor sound, unreliable wifi and the like. Working with Tobacco Dock and a top creative agency to craft the journey, you can transmit and shape an entirely fresh way to experience your content that’s not a stale webinar.

The key here is to create original content, live interactions, novel ways to engage and stage it all in a polished, branded manner with proper lighting, sound and production value. Partner with an agency that collaborates on your brand strategy, and tells a story that truly moves people, whether by entertaining, educating, or innovating (bonus points if you do all three at once).


Once you’ve set the stage in this way, you can reach an unlimited audience around the globe, so suddenly, your local event is touching every corner of the globe. It’s a cost effective way to share relevant information at a distance between markets and across functional areas: from employee engagement, to consumer demos, to creative workshops for Founders, C level executives, VC’s and Investors who are looking to cross pollinate and share compelling content to wellness programming for employees.   With certain global travel restrictions around health and safety, this approach is not a luxury, it’s the new way of brand communication. More and more, we’re seeing US client events that began as purely local that are now going global as a result of being able to invite others overseas through technology, customized apps, and virtual platforms.

Keep it fresh

Whatever you do, don’t try to shoehorn what your conference would have been into a digital presentation. We’ve all had too many of those over the last few months, and without a free bar, there’s just no compelling reason to attend yet another video gathering. Plan to design something fresh that breaks barriers and uses technology in innovative ways. If you’re not sure what that means or how that looks, no worries. We’ve got you covered.

Next steps

We’d love to talk you through our own hybrid events packages, Live From Tobacco Dock. We’ve pulled all the elements together for you to throw an outstanding event with a fully ‘plug and play’ offering. Of course, like everything at Tobacco Dock, we aim to be as flexible as you need, so while the packages are there to give you the most straightforward experience possible, if you would like to discuss a different room or production arrangement, that’s fine! Our team are available to chat through all the options with you. Enquire here.

Cogs & Marvel are a creative and dynamic brand experience agency with bases in both San Francisco and Dublin. They specialise in building strong engagement and memorable experiences.