Sweatband Sam: VCE’s Event Marketing Pretty Boy

Sweatband Sam: VCE’s Event Marketing Pretty Boy
When VCE, the world leader in converged infrastructure technology solutions, approached us to develop their 2015 trade show theme, we knew one thing: we wanted to create something undeniably persuasive. Large coffees, team meetings, and restless nights later, “Don’t Sweat IT” and Sweatband Sam were born. What followed were US and internationally based conferences, sizable social media buzz, and an entirely new brand direction driven by our bearded beauty. We sat down with Susan Hass, VCE’s Senior Director of Corporate Marketing, to get her opinion on “Don’t Sweat IT” and the modern event space.  
How has event marketing developed and changed in the last few years?
“The space is increasingly crowded and very competitive. People are trying to come up with new and creative ways of telling their story. “The type of conversation you have has continued to evolve. It’s not just about putting some IT equipment in a booth. In fact, you see a lot less of that now. Today, we see a substantial amount of value from our participation in shows across a multi-touch approach. It’s not just about that trade show floor. It’s about all the things that happen before, during, and after—all the experiences, both in person and online, that take place.”  
From your perspective, how did Sweatband Sam perform on the floor?
“It’s always hard to cut through the noise. There are so many people exhibiting on the floor, everybody has something going on. But Sweatband Sam was a fun and interesting concept people could really get behind. “On the floor, we had the VCE prize patrol tying into the Sweatband Sam theme. They were very interactive, putting multiple sweatbands on their arms and legs. It became a thing where they were almost trying to outdo each other. Combined with Sam as the figurehead, it really helped to make the initiative fun and engaging. “We also leveraged coordinated social media campaigns, printed bag inserts, an interactive Sweatband Sam cutout, and the “Don’t Sweat IT” photo booth. It all clicked and caused attendees to engage with us, creating a real and substantial dialogue.”  
How does this campaign stack up against other VCE initiatives?
“I think it was super successful! It really tied into the message we were trying to drive. Sweatband Sam applied to all audiences—sometimes people would pick up swag for their kids, sometimes it would be for them. “‘Don’t Sweat IT’ was really a door opener. You have some attendees who know exactly what they want and they go straight over to the demo area or talk to the engineers around our Vblock Systems. But then you’ve also got folks that are reluctant or less likely to engage in conversation. Sweatband Sam and all the associated collateral created a comfortable space to start a casual dialogue, enabling our team to then transfer them to the appropriate subject matter expert. “It worked globally. It was an easy concept; everybody got it. There was no language barrier. Its message was clear and universal—truly something everyone could identify with.”  
What’s next for VCE?
“We will continue to push the envelope, that’s for sure. The IT industry is known for rapid change and constant advancement. As marketers, our challenge is to keep pace with the technology—not just harnessing buzz and excitement around new models or upgrades, but also channeling the overall story of how these IT innovations are quite literally changing the world. It’s a great space to be in and campaigns like Sweatband Sam make for an interesting entry point to the broadest possible audience.”

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