Paulette Wolf Events | Corporate Events
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What You’ve Been Waiting For: Non-Traditional Style Gala


Are you tired of going to a gala where you are served a chicken dinner and are stuck at a table talking only to a few people? Would you rather send a check than actually go to the event? What if we were to tell you that we helped formulate a new fundraising model – a model that engages your senses, surprises you throughout the evening, excites you to interact with hands-on activities, and takes down barriers so guests feel comfortable to network with everyone at the event while donating to your cause.

We piloted this concept for The Nature Conservancy’s 60th Anniversary Gala and it received rave reviews from the 500 high-level donors, sponsors, guests & executive team raising over $1M for the organization.  There was plenty of seating, no lines for food or at the bars, lots of incredible, interactive elements including activation stations surrounding their 5 pillars of work (land, water, people, climate & cities) and a passport system that encouraged the journey throughout the event. Much of the focus of the evening was on friend-raising in addition to fundraising and this event exceeded all of their goals.

This non-traditional gala model is an immersive journey into the brand of the foundation/organization filled with interactive elements and messaging at every turn.  There is no traditional seating, there is no traditional experience and there is no traditional fundraising.  The evening is filled with the unexpected, keeping guests mingling and moving throughout.

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Q1 Recap

PWE’s first quarter was packed with a wide range of events and experiences from multi-day conferences to sales incentive trips, foundation events and milestone birthdays. Never before has the first quarter been so busy!

 

BCU All Employee Weekend

Paulette Wolf Events leads the industry in producing complex multi-day events and that is exactly what we did for Baxter Credit Union (BCU). Every 5 years, BCU brings together its employee’s from near (Chicago) and far (Puerto Rico) to connect with each other and learn best practices. Over 550 employees attended this year’s 3-day conference at the Hyatt Rosemont. This conference included inspiring keynote sessions by influential speakers such as Scott Stratten and David Mead, as well as industry-focused breakout sessions led by key executives and managers. PWE designed and managed BCU’s custom conference mobile app that gave guests access to the overall agenda, speaker information, hotel map, communication and interaction between attendees, as well as allowed guests to sign up for breakout sessions and create their own schedule.

The main highlight from the weekend included the launch of the new BCU logo and brand! An Oprah style giveaway took place on the first day, which gave employees all newly branded BCU swag.

 

Milestone Birthday

One week later PWE produced a surprise milestone birthday. This intimate surprise party began with a unique invitation. Each guest received a one-of-a-kind invitation featuring a blue velvet box with a large puzzle piece inviting them to a surprise party, giving directions to bring the enclosed puzzle piece with them and asking for five words to describe the guest of honor. Those words would later be showcased throughout the décor, video montage, entertainment and a birthday special gift of custom dinner plates with each guests’ words around the perimeter of the plate and with his/her name on the back. These plates were displayed at the party for all to view.

It was important to the host that every detail from the food to the entertainment, décor, gifts, flowers and photos were all comprised of the honoree’s most favorite things, including a giant chocolate chip cookie cake made by the James Beard Award winner, Mindy Segal. We brought in Cottage Inn pizza from the guest of honor’s Alma Mater college campus as well as her favorite frozen custard in Michigan, Gillies. We even had a McDonald’s food station serving burgers, fries and orange soda.

The main décor focal piece was an illuminated portrait of the guest of honor in a modern art style similar to Chuck Close. This art installation was also an interactive experience for guests. Guests used the puzzle pieces that they received in their invitation to assemble the photo. Entertainment included Live Band Karaoke and a surprise performance by Vertical Horizon, one of the guest of honor’s favorite bands.

 

Incentive Travel/Destination Meetings

An area of our business that especially excites us is our incentive travel and destination meetings and events. For the last 45 years, PWE has traveled across the world producing and managing these types of events for an array of clients. Recently, we produced sales meetings in Boulder, Colorado & Phoenix, Arizona consisting of private dinners, team building activities and all-day meetings with food & beverage and A/V.

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Surprise Birthday Celebration

 

Each guest received a one-of-a-kind invitation featuring a blue velvet box with a large puzzle piece inviting them to a surprise party, giving directions to bring the enclosed puzzle piece with them to the party and asking for five words to describe the birthday girl. Those words would later be showcased throughout the décor, video montage, entertainment and a special gift for the guest of honor. Kehoe Designs incorporated these adjectives and phrases on the backs of chairs & tops of highboy tables as well as the guest of honor’s name scripted across the vinyl white dance floor. We partnered with Marc Friedland Couture Communications to design the invitations as well as custom dinner plates with each guest’s words around the perimeter of the plate and with his/her name and date on the back. These plates were displayed at the party for all to view. They were presented to the birthday girl at the end of the night as a gift from her family.

The A.C. Nielsen Tennis Center was transformed into a colorful, thoughtful walk down memory lane with the help of our amazing collaborative partners: Kishbaugh + Partners, Kehoe Designs, Lightswitch LLC and Partytime-HDO Productions. It was important to the host that every detail from the food to the entertainment, décor, gifts, flowers and photos were all of the birthday girl’s most favorite things, including a giant chocolate chip cookie cake made by the James Beard Award winner Mindy Segal. We brought in Cottage Inn pizza from the guest of honor’s Alma Mater college campus as well as her favorite frozen custard in Michigan, Gillies. We even had a McDonald’s food station serving burgers, fries and orange crush soda. Kehoe Designs created photo collage back drops for each of the food stations that were focals in the room filled with photos from the birthday girl’s childhood, adolescence, teenage years, college, etc. The main décor focal piece was an illuminated portrait of the guest of honor in a modern art style similar to Chuck Close. This art installation was also an interactive experience for guests. Guests were the ones who completed the portrait and did so from the puzzle pieces from their invitation. Each guest had a number on the back of his or her puzzle piece that corresponded to a number on the portrait. It was exciting to see guests walk up to the installation, figure out where their piece fit and step back to see the image come to life in front of them. The final piece became the photo backdrop for the evening. In place of a typical photo booth, we partnered with HYPNO and used “The Eye” which is a giant video selfie ball that was passed throughout the evening capturing moments and memories of the night.

Entertainment included Live Band Karaoke and a surprise performance by Vertical Horizon, one of the guest of honor’s favorite rock bands. Guests were invited on stage to karaoke and give special remarks to the birthday girl. The final karaoke act was by Matt Scannell, the lead Singer from Vertical Horizon. The fun didn’t stop there. Vertical Horizon performed their top hits as well as a list of cover songs from the guest of honor’s favorite artists. After the performance, Vertical Horizon joined everyone on the dance floor for a memorable cap to the extraordinary evening. To bring the whole party full circle, mock puzzles of the art installation were given to guests as party favors.

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I Love The 90’s Event

On Tuesday, October 10th, the 90’s decade was brought back to Chicago. Mercer, the world’s largest HR consulting firm, tasked PWE with producing their Workday Rising event.

Over 500 Mercer employees, clients & VIPs enjoyed incredible 360-degree views of Chicago from the 82nd floor of the iconic Willis Tower, which was transformed into a celebration of the Mercer brand through an “I Love The 90’s” theme. Every element, i.e., food & beverage, décor and entertainment were entrenched in this decade. PWE strategized on all of the possible ways to activate the Mercer brand within the space, giving guests a small sense of Mercer’s culture. The branded environment included custom bars, custom food stations, wall art installations, branded food service, custom waters, a custom dance floor & a custom photo booth.

Ledge Tours, which extend out 4 feet and 1,353 feet in the air, were offered to guests on the 103rd floor if they dared.

The entertainment for the evening was a mash up of one-hit-wonders from The 90’s. The artists included Sugar Ray, Young MC, C & C Music Factory, SNAP & Tone Loc. The guests had a blast dancing & singing with the entertainment and a lucky few were even invited on stage.

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FlexPod Launch

For the past four years, we have collaborated with NetApp, Inc., a member of the NASDAQ-100 and American computer storage and data management company, to produce a variety of events including incentive travel, event management, executive dinners and product launches.

In 2015, NetApp partnered with Cisco to develop the FlexPod, a pre-tested and proven data storage solution. The FlexPod combines networking and computing into a shared infrastructure that supports many applications and workloads to help their customers’ transitions to the cloud quicker and more accessible. NetApp and Cisco named CDW a designated FlexPod Premium Partner.

On June 18th, we produced a day of International FlexPod Launch Events. Eight CDW corporate offices across the United States and Canada were transformed into FlexPod headquarters, where the traditional CDW red was overrun with FlexPod branding. The launch day culminated with a VIP event at the Millennium Park Rooftop in Chicago. The outdoor venue offered stunning views of the city and of Millennium Park, which was perfectly suited for our interactive marketing strategies and unique brand activation ideas for this event.

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