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Corporate Entertainment: How One Session Went Viral

Corporate Entertainment: How One Session Went Viral

Nathan Coe Marsh

Tom Hiddleston, who plays Loki in The Avengers and Thor film franchises, made an entrance at San Diego’s Comic Con that rattled the rafters with excitement from 6,000+ live attendees, lit up social media and resulted in over 800,000 views of just one version of the video, in one day, on YouTube. They did it with minimal production — no complicated rigging, no intelligent lighting, no expensive set pieces or customized staging — just a bit of creativity.

Take a look:

Why was this so memorable and effective, and how can we learn from Hollywood to create sessions that grab attendees and do not let go? If we have a VIP to bring on-stage, how can we do it in a way that creates the most impact and gives her/him an audience that is primed and ready?

Creative, customized entrances:

  • Create focus
  • Build anticipation
  • Fill the room with energy
  • Create a story that your attendees carry with them long after the event.


  • What makes this entrance a great case study is that, especially for a company with deep-pockets, it was technically simple and relatively low budget. It allows us to highlight the psychological and theatrical keys without being distracted by budget issues. High touch beats high tech.

    Let’s take a look at the critical elements of an unforgettable reveal, and see how Marvel’s team executed them.

    Surprise:

    Long before the reveal began, the team was building towards its success by insuring that it would be a surprise. The first thing going for them was that their idea was legitimately innovative — while the Comic Con had brought in superstars to answer questions on panels in the past, this was the first time one performed in character on the stage. It was a unique experience.

    Beyond that, they went to tremendous lengths to protect the surprise of the performance itself. Hiddleston flew from London to the convention dressed as the Jango Fett character from Star Wars so that there would be no social media reports of him being in town (“Comic Con: Tom Hiddleston talks ‘Top Secret’ Loki Marvel Panel Stunt”

    Attention:

    For any entrance to be effective, you need to insure that every eye in the room is focused where you want it. You have to pull the audience away from the smartphone, away from the anxiety of what is waiting for them back at home, and bring them into your world.

    Here this happens suddenly, simply, and effectively — microphones cut out and a full black out. It is a pattern interrupt and creates immediate, crystal-clear focus.

    Interest and Anticipation:

    Attention is fleeting; you hear a loud noise you turn in its direction — at the moment it has your total attention — you see that it is a balloon that popped and you mind goes to the next thing that grabs you.

    To move, engage, and fascinate an audience attention must be quickly converted to interest — which is more substantial. In the San Diego Comic Con, this came through Hiddleston’s voiceover. That group immediately recognized the character, but it raised questions within them: “Is that a recording? He isn’t here, is he?” And, even through video, you can almost feel the buzz of anticipation that is built up during the voice over. The bigger the buildup inside the mind of the attendee, the bigger the response to the reveal.

    Reveal:

    It is simple and sudden: a few bursts from a strobe light and we realize that Loki is standing in front of us. The suddenness of the reveal, now that we have full attention and interest, helps contribute to a huge response. All of the anticipation / tension that has been carefully built up is released and — coupled with the surprise — makes for a huge response.

    It’s All About Them:

    The loudest applause in Hiddleston’s monologue comes when the character refers to Hall H — the room they are in at the San Diego Convention Center. The power of live events is that they are live, and any way to work in the specifics of who the audience is, where they are, what unites them, anything that reminds them that this program is created specifically for them is going to be massively successful and memorable.

    The Best is Yet to come!

    Nathan Coe Marsh

    407.900.3831 | NCM@NCMarsh.com


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