In the beautiful surroundings at St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Macmillan Cancer Support raised over £145,000 by putting the dream Christmas stockings of ‘A’ list celebrities under the hammer. Sponsored by Harrods, the annual Celebrity Christmas Stocking Auction is Macmillan’s biggest celebrity event of the year. Macmillan’s special events manager Miranda Brown has the enviable job of planning the glamorous event and the more challenging job of managing the budget. She talks about working with production company, Metro Broadcast, to create an experience which encourages maximum donations without breaking the bank.
As a charity, Macmillan’s biggest challenge is to create a really memorable event that guests will want to return to each year without being extravagant with funds. Metro Broadcast’s job was to optimise the budget by keeping creativity up and costs to a minimum. Miranda said, “Each year, we face the ultimate creative test. Our suppliers understand our budget constraints and are still able and prepared to put everything they have into creating a successful fundraising event.”
Event sponsor Harrods offered the support of their art department in creating the invitations. It was then up to Metro Broadcast to help Miranda turn the artwork into a styling concept for the evening event. “It’s a black tie event so it had to be elegant but we wanted a lively atmosphere – with a touch of glamour,” said Miranda. “Harrods developed our ideas around Hollywood’s “Silver Screen” era and then added a dash of Christmas. We worked with Metro Broadcast’s production team to translate our concept into a glamorous, vintage-style set, atmospheric lighting and themed presentation visuals.”
Metro Broadcast’s stage was a classic, iconic, Art Deco design with sumptuous, soft gold and sepia lighting. To keep the cost of materials and crew to a minimum, the stage was created from simple flats but treated with lighting to create changing effects. Duel front projection screens displayed high definition images of the items for auction enhanced with moving graphics. Using a portable video production unit, the production team was able to switch between images of each auction item and live video of the bidding guests, adding to the excitement. To maintain dramatic action between the auction lots, the team created a retro, ‘Silver Screen’ style sequence of moving graphics to keep the visuals engaging.
The set had to be practical for the purposes of the auction but it also had to make an appropriate setting for the evening’s entertainment which consisted of three quite different acts; a 1920s style dance group provided by Scarlett Entertainment; The Sugar Sisters, a retro-style acoustic vocal trio, and DJ at all the celebrity parties Sophie Lloyd. Joe Beecham, Metro Broadcast’s Production Manager, said, “We designed the stage to accommodate all of the acts but used lighting and sound to subtly lift or lower the mood during the course of the evening and create different, changing effects.”
On her experience working with Metro Broadcast, Miranda Brown said, “Metro Broadcast really understands our challenges as a charity. The production team is keen to spot opportunities to improve the design without increasing costs. I guess that comes down to experience.” She added, “On the night, I can trust Joe and his team to work directly with the entertainment acts and the venue. It allows me to take a wider view of the event knowing that the technical production is in safe hands. If anything needs fixing, they fix it.”
The December event kicked off the party season in starry style. Kate Winslet, Joanna Lumley, Lord Coe, Sharon Osborne, Holly Willoughby, Tom Daley, Bear Grylls, Michael Bublé and Kimberley Walsh were just some of the stars who put their dream stocking lists together for auction. These were auctioned off by guest hosts Neil Fox and Emma Forbes.
The stockings were brimming with everything from high end luxury holidays to designer handbags, plus each stocking included a ‘money can’t buy’ experience personally donated from each celebrity, such as film set visits and celebrity meet and greets.
Before the event, Bear Grylls, whose stocking included a holiday to South Africa and a training day on the extreme performance Hugo Boss racing yacht, said, “I’ve had a lot of fun thinking of my dream stocking and hope that it raises a lot of money on the night for Macmillan, who are working to ensure that nobody has to face this journey alone.”