Entertainment Marketers 2008

Entertainment Marketers 2008: Kevin Wall

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Getting ink upfront, before a concert, is always a producer's toughest challenge. But in the case of Live Earth, it was essential.

This was no ordinary concert: 24 hours of music and 150 acts divided among events on seven continents. And while Live Earth's logistical challenges were enormous, its ambition was even bigger: to be "a lightning rod" to alert people to environmental issues.
Selected for:
Live Earth
  • Gets that eco-guy Gore involved from the start
  • Sets live-streaming records
  • Makes sure event stays green, including cleanup

One answer: lots of heavy hitters.

"Using the backdrops of the artists and pushing the message with speakers in between them, we provided a huge platform so local [non-governmental organizations] could activate ... a message that could start the beginning of their campaign," says Executive Producer Kevin Wall.

The event set a live-streaming record as 237,000 people watched video coverage from MSN simultaneously. More than 15 million streams were initiated the day of the event, and in the following week the total hit 100 million.

Overnight branding
Mr. Wall recalls a compliment from a Daimler-Benz executive, who asked how Mr. Wall "could create a global brand in eight months when a company like ours can spend millions creating global brand and it takes years."

"We leaned on Al a lot," Mr. Wall says, speaking, of course, of former Vice President Al Gore. Mr. Wall was inspired by Mr. Gore's climate-crisis slide show; "An Inconvenient Truth" had just been nominated for two Oscars. Mr. Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection became a major NGO partner for the event.

Live Earth nabbed headlines for "greening" the event, whether by eliminating garbage generated by concessions or reducing electricity use.

"We tried to have as minimal impact as possible," says Mr. Wall, who's also CEO of Control Room. "We didn't want a big picture the next day in the paper of a trashed-out stadium with lots of stuff that was going to the dump."

He booked artists who were already committed to tours to play in the areas of the world where they were already scheduled to appear. Shows were largely produced during daylight hours, and the producers picked low-voltage lighting that hadn't yet been used in music shows to lower the carbon footprint.

Next up: a fall pre-election event in concert with the Alliance for Climate Protection's recently launched "We" campaign aimed at mobilizing the university vote.
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