Their Message, Your Event
28th February 2018
In a world where everyone is encouraged to have a voice – does it matter if attendees use our events to speak up about their own agenda?
Although social movements are not new within society, the frequency of high-profile events being used as a platform to promote a social agenda is rising because of their high level of media coverage. If those that attend our events choose to use the event publicity to promote their own stance, there is a chance that onlookers may shift their focus away from the event and towards the social movement.
Why are we discussing this now?
With 2018 being labelled the year of social movements, there is a concern that an event’s purpose may become lost under the weight of the movements that people promote. In recent months we have seen a rise of awareness for the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, for example.
Some celebrities have chosen to use their attendance at high-profile events, knowing that the event will have wide-spread media coverage. This enables them to promote a message and show their support regarding these movements.
- Prompted by the Golden Globes, celebrities wore black to show support for the #TimesUp movement at the BAFTAs. Some that did not attend used their social media to show support (check out @emilia_clarke on Instagram).
- In January, the Grammys saw attendees wearing a white rose for #TimesUp as a symbol of equality within the entertainment industry.
- Members of the public hijacked media coverage on the red carpet of the BAFTAs for #TimesUpTheresa – to fight a UK bill on domestic violence.
- Last season, NFL players knelt whilst singing the National Anthem, to silently protest against police brutality in America.
- Many athletes at the Winter Olympics in South Korea are choosing to wear rainbow laces in support of LGBT inclusion and acceptance in the sports community.
Is there a threat to our industry that the event and its media coverage could be hijacked by a social movement?
The above shows examples of events with a high media coverage, and celebrity attendees with an international following. Due to the audience reach, people perceive or perhaps hope, that the event will provide a strong platform for the movement they support.
Do social movements shift the spotlight?
Although there will be opposing views in regards to the necessity of the social movements – something that we, as event managers, need to consider is the idea that the content or cause of the movement, could be associated with our event and by doing so our intended message is lost.
Typically, social movements highlight wrongdoing either across society or in a specific industry. However, with a possibility of our events being remembered for the social movement – does this affect the message our event is trying to portray?
How could your event be affected?
No one can deny that our reputation helps us with new clients, repeat custom and financial stability. As event managers, we spend time planning all elements of events, including intended media coverage, sponsorship relations and financial objectives. Are these planning elements likely to be affected if a pop-up, or planned social movement occurs at your event?
Let us imagine for a moment that we are a sponsor of a high-profile event with various attendees and plenty of planned publicity; the colours and logo of our supporting business are easily and frequently seen. Now let us add a social movement that has gained momentum among a large proportion of the attendees, could this affect our own media coverage?
How do we as organisers manage the media attention at events to ensure the event’s intended message is clearly portrayed?
The organisers of the Brit Awards chose to proactively support #MeToo by supplying a white rose to anyone who wished to take one. A quick Google search of ‘the Brit Awards 2018’ brings up countless articles about winners and performances – keeping the spotlight on the awards ceremony.
In contrast to the approach of the Brit Awards, the organisers of the Oscars released a statement claiming that they wanted the attention to be on the films and not the social movements happening around them. Although not discouraging the movement, the Oscars were to be a place of unified celebration of film entertainment and fashion, with a subtle nod of the head to the movement. Organisers argued that viewing ratings of awards ceremonies are down due to an imbalance between entertainment and political statements.
From the initial press of last night it seems the red carpet, full of celebrities wearing colour with some political pins (as opposed to black), was able to focus more on the awards evening itself, and therefore movements did not consume the spotlight. However, during the evening celebrities chose to use their voices whilst on the stage to raise awareness on movements such as TimesUp, MeToo, gun violence and immigration laws in the USA.
Do you think that social movements can cause the spotlight of our events to shift? Are social movements inevitable at high-profile events and something that event managers need to take into consideration during planning stages?
Should we be showing support and facilitating the movements at our events?