Tom Eatenton - Looking to 2017

Tom Eatenton, owner and CEO of Kru Live, Kru Talent International and The Staffing Collective

Featured In Event Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People in the UK event Industry, Tom Eatenton is Owner and CEO of Kru Live, Kru Talent International and The Staffing Collective. 
Tom has worked in the brand experience and event industries for over 20 years and set-up Kru Live in 2005 to offer staffing and implementation services to sport and entertainment, experiential, event, advertising and PR agencies. Having become leaders in their field Kru Talent was then set-up to provide ‘theatre’ through entertainment and specialist acts. Tom also established The Staffing and Entertainment Collective, a group of like-minded specialist agencies in over 30 countries worldwide. In 2015 The Staffing Collective collaborated to deliver experiential activity for Salesforce on the U2 world tour and Keds on the Taylor Swift world Tour.

 Tom is also partner and advisor to the UK Actors Centre – developing employment opportunities for graduate actors in the events industry as well as the organisers committee for the European Sponsorship Awards. Tom’s belief is that ‘The Experience’ should flow through everything we do – whether that is the client journey, looking after one’s team or the delivery of an event or a live activity on site.

2017 has already been the busiest start to any year we’ve ever seen, so I’m very excited about the next 12 months. And I get the feeling, through conversations I’m having across the board, that more and more budget is being diverted to live and experiential, which is good news for everybody in our sector.

From a technical perspective, one of the things in particular that I think we’ll see in the coming year is a clarification of precisely the level of impact that live events have when

 

when combined with social media and online coverage. We’ll also begin to understand more of how it feels for participants of a live event if they suddenly find themselves the star of a viral campaign.

Historically speaking, when people were taking part in live experiential or an event on behalf of a brand, they would always be photographed and videoed whilst engaging in the activity. But it was rarely for distribution purposes. That content and footage was used to feed back to a senior team and directors to demonstrate what was happening to their live activity, if they couldn't be there physically themselves. So if it were a sampling campaign for a soft drink, for example, they’d want to see what was happening at street level with their product, so that was usually the only reason why it would be filmed and photographed.

2017 has already been the busiest start to any year we’ve ever seen, so I’m very excited about the next 12 months. And I get the feeling, through conversations I’m having across the board, that more and more budget is being diverted to live and experiential, which is good news for everybody in our sector.

But as we all know, we’ve come a long way since those days. Now, if you’re working on a live piece of activity, you can 100% guarantee that you’re going to be filmed, and that content is going to be used for social media amplification or for online promotional purposes to further broaden the reach of the live activity. But that creates a dual purpose for the event, and we’re reaching a point where we need to clearly define the usage and the purpose of what our teams are being asked to participate in.

We now need to work closely with our clientele to define - ‘What do you need? A directed piece of footage to create content that’s going to go online, or TV? Or is it purely the live experience?’ If it’s the latter, then that’s nothing new, but if you are using people’s images for social amplification and further reach, we need to give more clarity to those working on a live event. These clarifications will then be used to deduce the associated job rate and usage fees. It’s become a blurred and grey area recently as to what the brand ambassador is agreeing to. Because these days, a live event might not necessarily mean just a live event.

But even taking this into account, where budget is being diverted from the traditional above the line into live experience, which then escalates through the line, brands continue to achieve incredible ROI when engaging with live solutions.

That’s more of technical thing, as we are obviously keen to ensure that our brand ambassadors are paid what is reasonable for their role and likewise that our clients are protected should a piece of content that is produced from an event were to suddenly go viral!! So it’s certainly something that’ll be at the front of our minds this year. But on a more positive note for 2017, and from a broader sense, experiential campaigns are becoming more integrated across international borders. We have The Staffing and Entertainment Collective our worldwide group of agencies currently spanning 34 countries, and overall we’re seeing international activity becoming a fast growing part of our business

A campaign activated in London or across the UK can now also roll out in France, Spain, Germany in exactly the same format, whereas historically it was each individual nation or market doing their bit, so not really integrated at all.

Our process works well - a US clients can deal with one account manager in the UK and activate globally through that one single person, and have that seamless delivery across the board.

So that’s what I see more of in 2017; more consideration and clarity on the purpose and implications of a live activity, and international work becoming a higher percentage of our business. And overall, I see the sector growing again this year. I’m very optimistic and I find that the people we work with are all generally positive and excited about the coming year too.

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Tom Eatenton, owner and CEO of Kru Live, Kru Talent International and The Staffing Collective