Observations from CultureCon 2023

By Anissa Pierre, Senior Copywriter

At Cramer, we’re always observing trends and keeping track of what’s happening in the events industry—both professionally and personally. Earlier this fall I was able to do both when I attended CultureCon, an annual conference hosted by The Creative Collective NYC, bringing together diverse creative professionals through programming, skill-building workshops, and interactive activations.  

The 2-day event was full of creative energy, inspiration, and entrepreneurial insight. But something that really impressed me was how the sponsor and partner brands incorporated themselves into a space and experience that they did not own. 

Here are three things I noticed from the brand activations at CultureCon that made quite the impression:

1. Sharable content to live beyond that event

With an audience of influencers, artists, marketers, and an array of other professionals who often need to showcase themselves and their work online, it was no surprise that nearly every brand included a photo opportunity in their space. Some of the photo ops were self-serve installations that people snapped pictures in front of with their phones, while others were part of the activation itself.  

These photo ops tapped into something deeper than a cool picture for your profile. They allowed attendees to share the experience with their digital communities, showcasing professional initiative and signaling that they have a finger on the pulse of the creative industry. Something similar happens for the brands. These photos align the brands with an influential audience and signal that they’re paying attention to people who may feel unseen or undervalued elsewhere. 

2. Multiple interaction points  

Many of the brands partnering with CultureCon showed up in more ways than one. There were activations, of course, but there were also branded spaces, product giveaways, and programming sponsored by the brands. I attended a SheaMoisture panel at the main stage, then headed to the SheaMoisture lounge to network with the other marketing professionals and grabbed a few SheaMoisture products while I was there. 

This tiered approach to visibility made it feel as if the brands were active participants of the conference with us. It was also an opportunity for them to push more than one initiative, getting people more informed about or involved with everything they had to offer. 

3. If you’re going to give stuff away, go for it!

We’ve noted a decline in event favors and “swag” over the past few years as people become mindful of the ecosystem and budgets. That was not necessarily the case at CultureCon.

There was something to take with you at nearly every turn of the venue: reusable tote bags, full-sized beauty products, portable chargers, drink tickets, contactless business cards, some people even got pairs of sneakers. It seemed that no expense was spared to make the people at CultureCon feel special, valued, and delighted to interact with the brands. This approach to swag may not be the most cost-conscious, but I can say it left a lasting impression on me and my fellow attendees. And, as I left the venue at the end of each day, I was pleased to see the trash barrels only had real trash in them—not piles of branded tchotchkes that spent a mere 5 seconds in people’s hands and with entirety in a landfill ahead.   

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