There were three primary challenges

  1. How could Novo Nordisk create and maintain a consistent, authentic branded experience for meeting attendees and the public that would not be lost amid high energy and activity levels of a busy global conference?
  2. How would Novo Nordisk develop a long-term strategy that would allow the event to scale, and scale intelligently alongside their business and in a constantly changing regulatory environment?
  3. How would Novo Nordisk create and extend a relationship with the EASD delegates and the public by building a community of followers with an impact on both the local and global community?

An Introduction & Invitation

Prior to joining the Novo Nordisk team on the 5K@EASD Run/Walk event in 2010 — we had worked together to design and manage a series of athletic events across the globe and in multiple capacities for Novo Nordisk. We had also worked closely with Novo Nordisk at major conferences in the diabetes community, including the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) World Diabetes Congress and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Scientific Sessions, both with great success.

Novo Nordisk knew they needed a partner who could quickly identify the shortcomings of years past and who would know exactly how to turn those learnings into a positive plan. With confidence and appreciation for our meticulous approach and previous successes together, Novo Nordisk asked us to apply the same level of planning, hospitality and detail that they had experienced in our previous partnerships to their EASD conference strategy.

Understanding the Landscape

In 2010, the EASD conference was to take place in Stockholm. Our priority was to understand, at every level, why and how the events were designed, managed and executed in previous years. It was crucial to know where successes and failures took place and how we could adapt the learnings, upon which they would be immediately improved.

Giving context to the event landscape and to Novo Nordisk's own business objectives would be paramount in paving a road map for this and future years. The business had also launched a global marketing campaign titled "change diabetes" — one that was geared towards building awareness and driving action in the fight against the disease. We saw this as an immediate opportunity to integrate into the EASD event and to maximize the brand's equity with the larger awareness and engagement of this program.

Building the Strategy

Novo Nordisk had experienced the best practices we had deployed at prior events in North America and in South Africa, so they had searched for a way to initiate an event framework to scale. So our strategy was designed to grow the event from the inside out by focusing on the delegates first, strengthening the brand second, and over the course of the next few years, engaging the public more.

Tactically — we translated our strategy into four primary objectives:

  • To standardize the presentation of the Novo Nordisk brand at the event (something that had never been achieved in previous years).
  • To give attendees a memorable brand experience like they had never seen before.
  • To integrate the brand with local culture to provide relevance and value while at the event.
  • To develop a fully integrated digital web presence that would provide extensive event details, capture race registration, and present a more cohesive brand experience in the time leading up to and following the event.

Integrating the Experience

Starting in year one, we built a one-of-a-kind racecourse set on the island of Djurgaarden just outside Stockholm city center. Our focus was to design a consistent brand look and participant experience. We also wanted to enrich the delegate experience itself, so within the "changing diabetes" branded section of the Novo Nordisk exhibition booth, we built a 5K@EASD stand which required race registrants to visit the booth to finalize their registration, a strategy that would enable attendees to experience and engage with the brand as well as helping to grow race awareness organically.

Enhancing the brand's equity in the public

In 2011, the EASD annual meetings moved to Lisbon, Portugal. The strategy for year two was to initiate and strengthen public involvement as well as to provide exposure to the Novo Nordisk brand. After the initial successes of the event in Stockholm, Novo Nordisk truly recognized the opportunity to make a positive impact on their brand by shifting the stake in raising diabetes awareness with the public.

As a result and in addition to developing the race itself, we created a signature branded environment just outside the EASD meeting space on the banks of the Rio Tejo adjacent to the Parque das Nações, a picturesque area of the city that would also host the start of the 5K@EASD. We found a great opportunity to create a branded footprint in the area that would see a large amount of public traffic, and would extend Novo Nordisk's brand presence from inside the congress center and into the public view.

beach party

Quality not Quantity

With the growth plan in motion and having the metrics to measure Novo Nordisk's success in the prior years, we arrived at a position to provide real, lasting value to our attendees and the public who were participating in the events.

Strategically, Novo Nordisk now saw the brand at a position where collectively, we could focus on designing quality experiences and not just towards the quantity of attendees; an effort that was winning and enabled us to focus on growing a more unified, international community.

In 2012 and '13, we took the event to Berlin and Barcelona. Our plan was to create a shared fitness experience for the public and invited guests, an experience that on any given day, participants would not have the opportunity to be a part of.

This was a draw that would pay off big for Novo Nordisk. Its success hinged on finding the perfect venue, one that was within budget, close to the EASD meeting space, attractive to the international meeting attendees but would also be a draw for the local public.

photograph of all event contestants inside of the stadium