In April each year, over 7,500 of the world’s leading medical practitioners assemble at Monaco’s Grimaldi Forum to engage with the latest innovations in anti-aging medicine. For pharmaceutical company Allergan, manufacturers of leading medical aesthetic brands such as VISTABEL® and Juvéderm®, the Anti-aging Medical World Congress (AMWC) at the Grimaldi creates a vital route to the global market. Claire Emson, Allergan’s communications, congress and events manager, works with technical production company Metro Broadcast to produce a complex and multi-layered, three day programme of events.
Vast in size, Monaco’s Grimaldi Forum spans six floors and contains three auditoria, 22 breakout rooms, 35,000m2 of exhibition space and three catering venues. The annual AMWC utilises every event space simultaneously over the duration of the three day convention.
Elite Sponsor Allergan’s individual programme of events includes Allergan’s own Symposium which attracts up to 800 delegates, a series of educational seminars, a welcome dinner for 600 of Allergan’s private guests from around the world, numerous mini-conferences organised by Allergan’s 10 country-market hosts and participation in the main exhibition. Many events run in parallel or in close succession in different areas of the venue and events are often integrated with the use of live video. The immense logistics task calls for a project planning timeframe of no less than eight months.
Explaining why Allergan takes such a multifaceted approach, Claire Emson says, “Although the AMWC is an opportunity to showcase our products, delegates are primarily interested in understanding the science behind them and to become proficient in using them in treatment. We work with Metro Broadcast to create a range of media and presentation techniques to get our key, educational communications across; we use different types of events and create different environments within the event space to make it engaging for as many delegates as possible.”
Claire’s AMWC team is made up of Metro Broadcast’s Director, Jamie Tilleray, and his crew of almost 30 designers and technicians looking after set, lighting, filming, presentation technologies and sound. Managing communications, travel and logistics is event management company Touch Associates and, in charge of developing content, is medical education agency Litmus.
For the April Congress, planning starts in September when the suppliers come together with Claire to kick-start the process and share initial ideas. Detailed planning continues collaboratively throughout the following months until, eventually, the discussion around the table can get down to the real nuts and bolts.
Metro Broadcast’s Director, Jamie Tilleray, says, “We each need to have watertight, individual plans but it isn’t until we sit down together and read across those plans that we get the chance to see precisely who and what needs to be where, by when. Smooth-running doesn’t ever happen by chance. We go through every inch of the space mapped against every minute of the programme and every item of kit.”
Allergan’s business is governed by strict industry regulations which ensure products and treatments are promoted and applied in a manner acceptable to the medical science profession. For Allergan, this means that getting presentation, image and tone just right in live communications is crucial to its reputation as a global leader.
Metro Broadcast’s design brief for the AMWC is to create a professional, informative and contemporary experience for delegates. The quality of the visuals needs to be superb, focussing on clear, educational communications which incorporate moving images and live video. However, regardless of the glamorous location - and mindful of the audience - Allergan can’t afford to appear ostentatious. In short, the events have to look good but feel modest.
Claire says, “We have delegates from a whole range of cultures - from G8 nations to emerging markets. The common reason they are all here together is to obtain information so it makes sense to concentrate our production efforts and budget on clear communication and excellent technical presentation. Metro Broadcast’s team seems to tune in very easily to what we want to achieve and finds interesting ways to make our visuals engaging.”
Striving to continually improve delegates’ experience, the team thinks about ways to bring new technologies into the mix each year. In 2013, Allergan’s corporate sales material was recreated entirely for iPad. Claire wanted to find a smart way of using the new medium in the exhibition: the sales materials were used to create an app which Metro Broadcast was then able to apply to multiple touch-screens incorporated in the exhibition booth design. Delegates could browse at their leisure and complete enquiry forms on-screen.
As the most important element of the event programme, Allergan’s educational seminars need to demonstrate not only the effectiveness of the product but also how to administer it so Allergan includes live demonstrations of anti-aging injections in the conference content. The live injections are filmed off-stage by Metro Broadcast’s camera crew and beamed onto 20m wide projection screens using high brightness projectors for brilliant definition. To achieve the ultimate, polished presentation, Metro Broadcast’s AV technicians use the Encore system to optimise the presentation of video, images and graphics.
Large plasma screens in Allergan’s exhibition space relay the live injecting demonstrations which are carried out elsewhere in the building as well as footage from events happening in other areas of the convention.
Summing up the reasons why Allergan’s event programme runs so smoothly, Claire Emson reckons it’s not only about working closely together, it’s about thinking together as a team. She says, “Our suppliers aren’t just skilled in their own field, they understand an awful lot about each others’ business and how one activity impacts another. No one plans anything in isolation. They don’t only work collaboratively, they think that way too - considering how content impacts presentation and how logistics will affect rigging and access. It’s a very efficient working model.”
Talking specifically about Metro Broadcast’s contribution she added, “I have one hundred percent faith that whatever Jamie and his team are asked to do, no matter how late in the day or how out of the blue the request might be, they will find a way of making it happen. They are prepared for anything.”