Best live event - external

As the main challenger to Microsoft’s workplace software dominance, Google for Work faced intense competition to become the preferred technology provider for business. While its brand promised innovation and excitement, there had also been some disappointment at the tools it offered.

Yet its brand was also seen as too innovative for the shop floor which had deterred some executives from making the leap. In the retail sector, Google for Work needed to create a commercially compelling concept that would demonstrate how its tools could change retailers’ businesses for the better. It also needed to secure face time with cross functional senior decision makers at more than 30 top retailers and, in doing so, generate a sales pipeline over three months.

Faced with this objective, agency Man Bites Dog brought senior retailers back to the shop floor. It created an immersive event, dubbed The Retail Agility Challenge, which pitched the guests against each other as they fought to save a failing department store, staffed by actors, using Google for Work’s tools. The store had three zones: the shop floor, demonstrating sales and experience; the back office, operational efficiency; and the boardroom, innovation.

The retailers were set a range of tasks ranging from window dressing to product recalls, fixing leaking air conditioning units to sorting out staff rotas. The experience ended with an in-depth brainstorm in the boardroom where the retailers could reflect on innovations and what they had seen with Google for Work executives.

The agency secured the attendance of teams from 40 of the UK’s largest retailers, including B&Q and Clarks, providing sales strategy intelligence on each one. In a range of sessions over two weeks, more than 150 senior retailers battled to save the department while a press day allowed the media to have a go, generating coverage in the industry’s leading trade magazines and national newspapers, including Financial Times. The retailers also spent 30 hours in the ‘boardroom’ talking to Google for Work executives. The initiative led to a healthy pipeline of business and the concept is now being rolled out across other sectors and regions.

‘This felt like a ‘proper’ event,’ said the judges. ‘It really demonstrated Google for Work’s products and produced a superb return on investment. A great concept.’