IBM, MTV Use Tech to Share Events With a Global Audience

In-person attendees are clearly not the only ones experiencing live events these days. Digital
executives from IBM and MTV described how their companies have used creativity and
technology to expand their exclusive events and reach a worldwide audience. They spoke at a
panel during Advertising Week on Tuesday in New York.

IBM had a lot riding on its THINK Forum since the company’s focus was “investing in building
the brand by offering the company’s vision for the future,” according to Ethan McCarty, their
global digital and social strategy leader.

The forum was held in late September during the company’s centennial year and featured top business executives, government officials, professors and scientists. Attendance to the event was strictly limited, but IBM used live blogging, a PR team onsite at the event, and social media to spread the message. In conjunction with IBM’s THINK Forum, the company opened an exhibit outside Lincoln Center to reinforce the event’s theme. The outdoor exhibit is open to the public.

IBM also increased the visibility of the forum through its uniquely designed “THINK” exhibit
outside Lincoln Center. The display opened in time for the forum and will continue through late October. It showcases the company’s innovation and conveys its roadmap for how technology can improve the planet. A fountain-like wall of colored lights and waves includes a flow of streaming data on interactive screens. As a result of all these efforts, McCarty said they “got millions of retweets and a huge spike in coverage.”

MTV used twitter tracker at its Video Music Awards to show celebrities tweeting from their seats, with Beyonce’s pregnancy announcement during the telecast lit up the twittersphere.

MTV’s initiatives for the VMAs in late August, though targeted at a different group, were
equally ambitious. As Kristin Frank, general manager of MTV and VH1 Digital, explained, “We
wanted to give the audience the context of why they should care.”

For the VMA awards, she said they used “three levels of twitter tracker, including ‘buzz’ (who’s the most talked about), ‘paparazzi’ (seeing celebrities up close), and ‘hot seat’ (tracking celebrities tweeting from their seats). Halos appeared over the stars’ heads that grew larger as their twitter traffic increased.”

As Frank reported, “the velocity of tweets was greater for Beyonce’s pregnancy announcement than for news surrounding Bin Laden’s death.” The awards broke records for live-streaming, and she observed, “It all worked well with the story arc.”

We spotted another music celebrity next door — Harry Connick Jr– after the panel ended, so we briefly became paparazzi.  Since he wasn’t tweeting, no halo appeared above his head. He was just hungry.