C2 Montreal 2018

C2 Montréal 2018 is a wrap and 7,000 business professionals from around the world are left clamoring for more from the choose-your-own-adventure festival. (Luckily, this year, they will get it – More on that later).

Each year, this three-day celebration of commerce and creativity breaks business conference boundaries and seeks to redefine how we experience a moment in time. Cramer’s event and experience design team was on-site this year and had this to say about the event. “Transformational.”

To paint a picture of what C2 was like to live, highlights included smoothie shots at the rotating event entrance, Cirque du Soleil (a founding partner) performances around every corner, food trucks, parties on the canal, gelato delivery via Vespa… need we go on? We can…

Faux secret service agents, a team of doctors attempting to resuscitate a laptop, a funeral procession for a dead cell phone, a rotating bistro serving coffee, private meeting cabins for Braindates, ninjas in bushes, and Snoop Dogg.

There’s seriously nothing like C2. It has this way of turning an event into a choreographed performance. And by leveraging the power of idea trading and collaborative creativity, has the ability to engage thousands of attendees all at once while also feeling personal for three straight days.

Take a look at the C2 event tracks:

Between the Conference Blocks, Conference Sessions, and Labs, there were literally 11 different ways for every attendee to experience every hour of the three day event. Yet somehow there is a feeling of flow that negates those possibilities of feeling too overwhelming.

When we spoke with Creative Directors Doug Randall and Cecile Engrand, they noted two elements of the C2 experience that really stood out.

  1. The theatrical attention to detail
  2. C2’s silent third C – connection

Theatrical Attention To Detail

Last year, Cramer strategist Joe Lovett attended C2 and remarked that while the the event was incredible and certainly had all the jaw-dropping big experience wow-factors he expected, it felt like it was lacking in the details. This year, they nailed the details. In fact that’s where Doug felt the event really shined!

“Whether it was the event entrance, the cafe, or even the bathrooms, every detail felt cared for, interesting, and artistic. They made a show of what normal events would hide, like stage resets for instance. Most events kill the lights and have production crews in all black run and reset. Here, the lights were on calling attention to the performance that was getting the stage ready, all the way down to moving chairs and water bottles between speakers.”

This is just speculation here but the leveled up focus on every individual detail could have come from simply having more money to play with. In looking at photos of the conference year over year, it’s hard not to notice the amount of logos and sponsor branded activations or areas growing. And it could also be that their team is getting bigger, more experienced, and is able to dial in the details!

C2’s Silent Third C

Connection was everywhere at C2.

Both Cecile and Doug commented that every activity at C2 was designed to build connections and give you a reason to interact with someone new. Braindates continue to be a standout experience, as does the facilitated networking provided by Klik badges.

Built by collaborative learning firm e180, Braindates provided one of the most exciting and engaging networking experiences we’ve seen at events yet, offering attendees the ability to easily discover like-minded individuals interested in teaching or learning specific topics from one another.

From simple and fun ice-breakers to heavy, in-depth industry conversations, the technology and the networking spaces made it easy to build lasting connections.

Global Expansion and Franchising The Experience

Regarding C2 fans not needing to wait a whole year to get their fix, the brand is making big moves.

Last week, C2 announced their partnership with new sponsor city, Melbourne, Australia for C2 Melbourne this coming October. Doug and Cecile even crashed the private party where C2 Melbourne was announced and managed to snag a photo op with the Governor of Victoria herself, Linda Dessau.

Left to right: Doug Randall, Photo Bomber, Linda Dessau, Cecile Engrand

The flagship conference will now happen twice per year but they will also be adding numerous smaller experiences worldwide as part of a “powered by C2” series. (Catch C2 at the upcoming Infocomm and Movin’On by Michelin).

Since the show’s inception seven years ago, it’s been obvious that they had the Creativity side of things figured out. Now this move to franchise their particular flavor of how to build an experience shows that they’ve got Commerce on lock as well.

C2 took a business conference and injected raw energy, emotion, expression, and spirit. Their team, a team without a background in events, created one of the most successful and buzz-worthy business events to date. All because they look at things just a little different.

From idea to inception, and organizer to attendee, C2 fully embodies opening your mind and perception of reality to a willingness to experience new creative possibilities.

Will we be seeing you at a future C2? What do you think about this franchised experiential model and the festivalization of business events? Tweet us @WeAreCramer.

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