Agency: M Integrated Solutions

Client: SES

Event Name: SKO ’21

Agency Website:

The Brief

The COVID-19 pandemic arose at the start of planning for M’s longest-standing client, SES, a technology company with close ties to the Luxembourg government, and the delivery of the essential annual strategic-led event, the Sales Kick-Off in 2021. A challenge to delivery of the annual event, taking place in quarter one of every year, would be the need to still need go ahead despite Covid restrictions. The event’s success had always been delivered through bringing together the global sales community within SES, and the importance of such a gathering due to the need to generate both effective message delivery and the deepening of networks and relationships.
The event would involve over 400 of the company’s senior business leaders tasked with driving the future of the business whilst moving from a physical format to a complete digital solution.
Central to the brief was the task to replicate the historical event success whilst adhering to social distancing and travel bans.

The Solution and Activation

The last 12 months have seen escalation of virtual/hybrid event delivery at M. The work has progressed through our dedicated digital and production departments. M has seen more complex delivery, embracing the planning of resilient technologies and adopting new logistical scope and specifications.
For SKO|21, M managed total production as the exclusive hybrid event delivery partner. M collaborated with SES to develop a strategically-driven three-day event agenda that blended live-streaming alongside pre-recorded content and supported by on-demand programming. M also partnered with ON24, the SES corporate solution provider for its global webinar activity, to create a robust live streaming solution (using M’s proprietary technologies featuring XR stages now installed at M) combined with a blend of M/ON24 participation tools. M innovated the differing meeting formats to ensure participation, break-out and one-on-one sessions and other new structures.
M responsibility started with content strategy and creative design to formulate an event brand. The SES SKO event had to create anticipation and build momentum through a coordinated pre-event communications plan, driven by an identity to express the goals of the SKO. To fulfil this pre-event engagement, M developed an event theme that articulated the event’s objectives. However, the theme also needed to reflect the new times in which SES is driving its business forwards (post-pandemic). As a global communications system provider of satellites and video/data distribution,
SES had to involve its worldwide delegates in activities that invited customers to participate in the SKO event. The theme was activated using a visual identity used in all digital channels during pre-event communications. The comms plan started with a save the date notification and involved the client’s internal communications channels to introduce and establish both the visual look (crucial to an exclusively digital event) and the fundamental goals of the SKO for 2021.With the theme established, M optimised the event agenda in collaboration with SES. M provided best practice advice on how a hybrid event agenda differs from a physical-led format. Typically, previous SES events would involve approximately 24 hours of delegate participation for three days. Also, delegates are invited to network for a further eight hours. Such timings aren’t recommended for hybrid events, so M ensured the lifespan of the event and the length of each day would be appropriate for remote delegates. M was able to distil the event into nine hours of streaming content spread over the three days, with coordinated networking activity built around a unique awards programme that only required 90 minutes of delegate commitment. Finally, M partnered with ON24 to ensure a wealth of on-demand content was available during the week before the event and promoted during the live streams. M spent the two months beforehand working with all speakers to determine the preferred presentation format (keynote speech/fireside chat/panel discussion, etc.). M identified specific speakers to be pre-recorded due to risk mitigation. M used partner studios and SES facilities worldwide to film in Africa, North America, and across Europe. Translation using the latest AI platforms was enabled throughout the event stream.

The Results

The SKO saw 100% attendance across all activity, made more impressive due to the combination of time zones, regional locations, and the dependence on accessing a high-quality live event stream.
Delegate participation was difficult to measure and compare against the traditional live event face-to-face activity. However, all breakouts saw full participation from every delegate for the duration of the event.
All digital materials that were made available to participants before and during the three days of activity saw over 90% take up of access and retrieval of all on-demand content.
The event success has led to a new event for the summer of 2021 using the same proven methods of remote participation alongside in-country follow up sessions to evaluate event strategy effectiveness.