Best Agency Collaboration at ICEAWARDS18
Following a successful collaboration on a previous event, Sanofi UK saw Ashfield as the ideal partner thanks to their combined services in-house that enabled them to work with content, creative production and logistic support.
most effective agency collaboration
Sanofi UK/Ashfield Meetings & Events
Objectives The purpose of the Company Day was to underline Sanofi’s drive to deliver the best support to their customers and to push themselves to provide services that truly benefit and positively impact people’s lives. The Company Day reinforced the message once more and that in order to do so they needed to change to a solutions oriented culture that promotes agile ways of working.
An important objective was to communicate the need to strengthen their capacity to operate from a common set of values and work as a team, within functions, Business Units or across the Company.
It was vital that the event diffused a consistent and compelling story about who Sanofi is as a business and clearly demonstrate that they are one, integrated Company with brilliantly diverse capabilities, medicines and offerings.
Collaboration Sanofi UK collaborated with Ashfield Meetings and Events to deliver their Company Day in May 2018. Ashfield provided a full service project management including, creative, content, production and logistics support.
Sanofi tasked Ashfield to embed the values of Teamwork, Courage, Respect and Integrity into the heart of the event to encourage colleagues to come closer together. The event and Ashfield’s solution had to reflect Sanofi’s objective to push boundaries and stay ahead of the game. It had to contribute to the excitement in the business about what can be achieved if they continue to push themselves, as a team, to deliver the best for the millions of people whose lives they touch and allow colleagues to celebrate their achievements.
In terms of timescales, logistical challenges and audience requirements, Sanofi consulted with Ashfield on the purpose, format, and date for the Company Day as early as July 2017. Very early in the planning stages they highlighted that they were looking for a much more fluid and more innovative event in comparison to previous events; a departure from the familiar. They wanted to create an environment that would inspire their employees to step outside their comfort zone – to feel and act differently. They collaborated closely with Ashfield on how this might be done, holding a series of working events and from this process conceptualised an event theme – a Sanofi Festival “Sanofi-FEST”.
To support the delivery of objectives to provide strategic direction and in order to work closely with internal stakeholders, Ashfield put in place a strategic content lead who would sit internally at Sanofi Head Quarters. This role took a lead on senior stakeholder engagement, facilitated decision-making and approval on key elements internally whilst having a holistic view of the event agenda, content creation and concept.
Ashfield co-ordinated the build of four festival tents varying in size and scale over a 7 day build period in the grounds of Beaumont Estate. The tents housed a registration area, catering, break-out space and a plenary room for 700 delegates. Ashfield worked very hard on creating an overall festival environment with some bold choices in branding, traditional festival signposts and menu chalkboards to name a few examples.
The Event On the day, delegates arrived by either coach or car, where they were welcomed with an entrance way lined with teardrop flags, directional signage, bunting and obligatory festoon lights leading up to the impressive tent structures. Stilt-walkers, acrobats and jugglers brought smiles to delegate faces and ensured there would be no mistaking the sort of day that lay ahead!
Surrounded by colourful food trucks and swirly-patterned camper vans, their first stop was the registration tent where they collected their brightly-coloured lanyards complete with site map and agenda. The content and programme design of the day was very much a collaborative effort. The morning focused on business updates, with the afternoon dedicated to the immersive activities centred around the company’s core values. The plenary session took place in a large teepee tent, with all 700 delegates seated around a central stage to create a feeling of togetherness and encourage participation. In true festival style, lunch was a choice of Paninis, jacket potatoes, salads and pastries, all consumed by the delegates as they sat at a choice of picnic tables while they were entertained by live music and the ambient circus acts – all sourced and co-ordinated by the Ashfield team.
After lunch, all 700 delegates were split into three groups and they began the rotation of exciting activities that truly aligned to the values of the company. One of the benefits of Ashfield and Sanofi working so closely together, was that Ashfield established that the focus of the afternoon activities should be on two of the four values. Sanofi’s own internal polling showed clearly that the values of ‘teamwork’ and ‘courage’ were not coming through as well as the other two. Ashfield was tasked with providing experiences that demonstrated these two values.
A crucial element to include in the Company Day was a CSR activity. A local homeless charity SHOC was identified and after speaking with them, Ashfield looked to incorporate this into the values activities. Colleagues were asked to bring travel sized deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, suntan lotion etc. to the event. Each of the groups then collated these into zip-lock bags creating 350 care packs for people sleeping on the streets. In addition, all the tents, sleeping bags and inflatable beds were donated to support vulnerable people without homes. A very effective example of a company working as one to help others.
After the high of the physical and CSR activities, all 700 delegates were then brought back into the main plenary tent where the celebrations continued with a rock choir, who demonstrated that yes, 700 people could sing together in harmony as one team to create a rousing chorus of ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams – dance moves included!
Sanofi’s MD wrapped up a successful day and reiterated key messages of the day, focusing on the importance of their people working towards the same values, before the sun set and the festoon lighting created a glow that surrounded the pavilions as the crowds were once again entertained by stilt-walkers, jugglers, acrobats and live music.
Throughout the day, the Ashfield team – donned in bright, logoed t-shirts and hoodies – were on hand to ensure the smooth-running of the entire event, manoeuvring 3 groups of 230 people in each as they rotated around the three afternoon activities, and kept they day’s jam-packed content to schedule. Unique branding and creative designs of the ambient materials around the vast area of the event highlighted the excitement, professionalism and investment in the day ahead, while flawless production retained the festival atmosphere throughout.
Challenges Ashfield’s first challenge, was to find a geographically-suitable venue that had the space to host 700 delegates and 40 crew members with an outdoor setting to accommodate tent structures.As well as offering the outdoor space for the event structures and activities, the venue had to offer space to camp for 100 tents and bedrooms for a minimum of 400 people.
Furthermore, the venue had to be within easy reach of Guildford, Oxford, and Maidenhead with good connections to rail and airport links. Thanks to Ashfield’s in-house venue sourcing team, their broad knowledge and close relationships with preferred suppliers, a 4-star hotel close to Reading was identified.
Five months prior to the festival, Sanofi had to change the proposed dates of the event. The chosen venue was no longer able to accommodate the event, and a new venue needed to be quickly established. Again, Ashfield’s in-house venue sourcing team worked quickly and closely with the project team, and the combined knowledge and experience of all members resulted in a new suitable 4* hotel in Old Windsor being found.
Another challenge faced focused around the creative design of the event. Sanofi tasked Ashfield with creating an identity specifically for the festival, and to deliver their company brand identity. This brand identity, while strong, was still going through a process of embedding into the cultural DNA of the business and it was therefore vital that the event identity was seen to reflect the company brand, while being easily separated from it.
Ashfield created a new specific name for the event, together with a logo which was incorporated into key materials, such as digital communications, badges, lanyards, and flags that welcomed delegates to the event upon arrival. The colour palette was used across a variety of materials – from seat cushions to directional signage to bunting, to crew uniforms – all creating a bright, colourful, welcome to this special event, using materials that could be used again at future gatherings.
The Results This was a Company Day like no other. Delegates were able to hear and understand the direction of the business from senior leaders, and got to experience the values of the business, not just talk about them, enabling them to garner feelings and memories that would last as they wiped away the final smudge of the glitter face-paint.
All delegates received a survey for completion where scores on arrival and theme of the day rated ‘above average’ and plenary sessions rated ‘very and extremely useful' which reaffirmed that the event was a success.
As expected Ashfield delivered an innovative event and demonstrated their alignment to Sanofi as a company, and their values.
This was a true partnership and the result was a unique event that will resonate with the staff for the foreseeable future. Close collaboration was vital to the success of this event. As a full service meetings and events agency, Ashfield provided the invaluable strategic advice and guidance as well the content delivery, and their challenging ideas enabled them to find new ways to make communications more engaging to Sanofi’s audiences.
Having worked in close collaboration with Ashfield previously, Sanofi have engendered a great deal of trust and it’s clear that they understand the business and the people which makes for an enjoyable and successful relationship.