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Why the best experiences can’t be scripted

9th November 2016

Those of us in the marketing and events industries are in the business of creating experiences that are memorable, achieve objectives, resonate with our audiences and capture the imagination of attendees.

While the business world can indeed craft and instigate compelling experiences, there’s a reason why many brands out there plough hundreds of hard-earned sponsorship and advertising dollars and pounds into an industry which, in my opinion, is the leader in producing memorable experiences… sport.

Sport has gone through a tough time in recent years with scandal after scandal – all of which have dented fans’ trust in that what they watch is real, kosher and authentic. But every now and then, sport throws up moments which remind us all that at its core is a spectacle that is unrivaled in drama; experiences that can’t be manipulated. Hollywood can script and fashion absorbing experiences, but the clue is in the statement; they’re scripted.

On Sunday a little-known Englishman, Danny Willett, came from nowhere to pip the reigning champ, Jordan Spieth, in The Masters. Spieth is widely recognised as the #1 golfer on the planet, yet showed expectation can lead to nerves, which can lead to throwing away a five shot lead. Easily done on arguably the toughest golf course in the world, and when the stakes are so high, but no one expected the 22-year old who’d shown such poise and composure to blow up so spectacularly. And twenty years on from another sporting episode for the ages; for Willett see Nick Faldo, for Spieth see Greg Norman.

Just a few short days earlier, in the men’s NCAA basketball final (that’s Uni basketball to us Brits, kids), sport threw up another bewildering finale. The two top-ranked teams slugged it out for 40 minutes trading blows, and heading into the final 90 seconds, only 3 points separated them. That was the same scenario heading into the final 13½ seconds – and then this happened:

Victory for North Carolina was snatched by Villanova by the final shot of the final play of the final game. Millions tune in every year to watch these teenagers go toe-to-toe (something unfathomable to us Brits who played out Wednesday afternoon matches at Uni in front of one man and his dog before hitting Vodka Revs that evening…), and perhaps this is why; a Hollywood ending with heartbreak and ecstasy in one take.

There must be something in the water at the moment; days before Kris Jenkins nailed his 3-pointer, Carlos Brathwaite bludgeoned four consecutive sixes off the final over to win the World Twenty20 Final for West Indies over England. Heading into the final over of the match, the West Indies were all but dead and buried; Ben Stokes was faced with bowling six balls, Brathwaite was faced with finding a way to score 19 improbable runs from them. The answer from the Barbados brute was the smash four monstrous shots over the ropes, leaving ‘the Windies’ dancing into the night, and England licking their wounds. Thrilling drama that no-one saw coming.

And finally, no sporting metaphor can ignore the on-going fair tale of Leicester City. If you’ve been living under a rock since last August, you’ll have heard all about their transformation from nearly being relegated from the Premier League a year ago, to now being five games away from winning the whole darn thing. And unlike Spieth, North Carolina and Stokes, all of us (minus those Spurs fans out there) hope they don’t stumble over the final hurdle. Their story is one of sporting drama and beauty that makes us all believe that the smaller fish can survive and thrive in the big open ocean; the underdog, David who slayed the moneybag fat-cat Goliath’s of the Premier League to triumph. If rumours are to be believed, Hollywood is even trying to nab the script for itself – which is testament to how compelling it is – but even if Jamie Vardy and his party does make it to the big screen, it won’t be a scratch on the script playing out in front of our eyes in the real world.

Unscripted, unique, compelling; for events and experiences to capture the imagination of those you strive to engage, seek the unexpected. Sometimes you just need a few key ingredients to come together to produce something no-one saw coming, and will always remember.

By Ben Priest our in-house Senior Relationship Manager


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