Sunday, January 26, 2014

Failure Coach XVI

Nectar of the Gods with Ambrosia in Cleveland

Alan is surprised by the number of people from Ambrosia who feel compelled to join him in Cleveland. It could be that being a new account warrants special attention. It could be the draw of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Or maybe just the idea of visiting Cleveland in the Springtime. Whatever the reasons, Alan is still trying to figure out why there are eight people from Ambrosia in town to ostensibly support the Failure Coach in the kick off of his mini tour of the Middle West. He doesn’t even know all of their names. With the exception of Tony Blank the account director he has only interfaced with these people once in person (the NYC meeting) and at a handful web-based virtual meetings on Skype, Google Hang Outs and Webinars.

They are staying at the Doubletree Hotel because the museum event planning staff encouraged them to do so.  Lower Level capacity is 125 at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Ambrosia anticipates at least a dozen media types in this audience for a Wednesday event that starts at 5:00 p.m.  Guests will arrive to the red carpet treatment and settle in with breathtaking views of Lake Erie. Alan’s entourage is another dozen folks with the balance being failure fans lucky enough to sign up early for tickets or win them via some media promotion. Tables set up in rounds of 8 with Failure Coach center-pieces and flyers at each place setting reinforce Alan Edgewater’s brand and book offers. Alan is trying to calculate the expenses in his head: $40 a person for food, $1500 for space rental, maybe $1200 for hotel rooms…he figures this little soirĂ©e will be $7,500 - $8,000 of which only a small part will be recovered from paid admission. The event tickets were generously delivered to media partners as a way to promote the event. Alan is not convinced the revenue will offset sunk-costs. Similarly, the event in Canton, while more like a reception with appetizers and open bar in their Plaza Tent space at Canton Hall of Fame with seating for about 150. That will be another $7,500 he can only assume. Tony Blank will staying around for that event as he has been charged with keeping Alan Edgewater happy.

“Tony, thanks for picking me up at the airport. I was going to take the Rapid Transit which would have been fine.”  Tony has a full size rental car and this is his second airport run off the day. “ Julie Chase is a project manager and is taking care of event details for these first two events. If she is arriving on time from Newark airport. If her flight is on time, I hope you don’t mind if I pick her up as well. “Sure, that’s fine.” Alan clenches his jaw a bit as he wonders to himself about the expenses of airfare from NYC and Tony’s rental car. He tries to calm himself with the knowledge that he did sign off on a ballpark-estimate the agency provided for these first two events in Cleveland and Canton. He knew $25,000 was budgeted with a plus or minus 15% of which he knew could only mean plus 15%.

“Oh my God, what a travel nightmare. Newark was a circus. Fortunately we made up time in the air. Alan it is so good to see you again. These first two events are really going to set the tone for this mini tour. Grace is excited about the media contacts she’s been able to interest. I’ll let her tell you about them later. If you want you can join us for a drink in the lobby bar at the Doubletree before we head over to the Hall. Tony, you’ll be joining us right?”

Alan is amused and concerned at the same time. He is hoping the advance team from Ambrosia has already managed the details for the event. (Sound, A/V, center-pieces, banner-stand signage etc.)  He secretly hopes Julie Chase is a project manager for this event and not the project manager. He shares some of his anxiety with Tony Blank as he checks in and lets him know he will not be stopping by the lobby bar before heading over to the Hall on foot on a beautiful Spring day in Cleveland. He knows Grace to be a capable writer but he isn’t comforted to know that she and Julie will be meeting for a little pre-game.”

Thursday morning, Alan is happy to have the Rock and Roll event behind him. He is feeling better about the details as the event went smoothly. His presentation was a hit by all accounts. Alan relied on material from his first book. Much of what he delivered was tried and true down to pauses for audience laughter. Cleveland Rocks! The view of the lake and the inside of the I. M. Pei designed structure were a treat as was the peak at artifacts on display (which Alan planned to return to see more fully on Friday).  

The Ambrosia team had been buttoned-up and working the room from every angle. Grace was at a table with a writer from and a non-writer friend from The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Julie Chase never sat down during the proceedings. Tony Blank managed the Ambrosia staffers with a kind of subtlety. The event was a success. Before the night was through, Ambrosia had plenty of video, quotes and images that would be raw material for starting what they hoped would be good social media buzz. Alan noticed the flurry of activity being generated on twitter which could see began with posts even before the evening festivities began and took full advantage of the red carpet atmosphere.

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