How do you leave an impression with over 1700 attendees of TEDMED that is both surprising and personal? Between two and three weeks after the extraordinary event that was TEDMED 2012 concluded, participants received a large, sleek black envelop in the mail. In it came a simple quote, suitable for framing, that speaks to the spirit and inspiration that is at the center of all of TEDMED.
“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” — Albert Schweitzer
Cosponsored by TEDMED, Xerox sent this art object to delegates as a way to say “thank you” for being a part of this year’s event and for adding their voice to the thousands of discussions and debates that made TEDMED an immersive, engrossing, and utterly captivating experience. The quote was wrapped in crisp, white linen which carried a small, personal message to each recipient.
Getting to this result was both gratifying and exhausting. The experience taught me a lot about what inspires me and how the path to inspiration is not always smooth and straight. Here’s a quick synopsis — and a little “behind-the-scenes” look — at how Xerox, through its fantastic partnership with TEDMED and our creative agency, Pappas MacDonnell, iterated through this process:
1) February: TEDMED plans to hold a Sponsor Celebration Party on the last evening, Thursday, April 12th, at the National Building Museum. Total number of attendees may reach 1,500 and Xerox would like to present each guest with a small gift/favor as they depart the Gala that will leave a positive lasting impression of Xerox.
2) Criteria: Gift should provide a human touch and evoke an emotional reaction. Gift should not require elaborate assembly. It should be consumable or easily portable with a reasonable price point. It must require the recipient to interact with it.
3) The intended experience: Imagine 6 to 10 ambassadors lined up at the exit area hand out the gift, bid each guest a fond farewell, thank them for attending, and personally hand them a token of appreciation. The overall experience is genuine, warm, gracious. It’s an end to a wonderful evening; the gift is a reminder of the time spent together. (Note, while this sounds great, it did not happen as planned.)
4) First round: Agency selected a number of whimsical, packaged food items to meet the above criteria. As TEDMED’s gala plans evolved, we found that early gift selections competed with the extravagant desserts designed for the event. Late in March, we scrub the food gift item and go for something that combines art and experience. We also want an item that we can hand out at the end of the evening. We selected the Schweitzer quote – that also appeared in the TEDMED brochure — as the centerpiece of the experience.
5) Conclusion: Logistical problems prevail and we decide to send the art/gift after TEDMED concludes. We also decide to add the matte/frame and to make the item of sufficient size so that it doesn’t get overlooked in the mail room. The result is what you see in the image above. There were countless other steps required to design and approve the artwork, color selections, embossing, packaging materials, mailing lists, and postage costs!
The result, we hope, is a surprising and inspiring touch from Xerox that shows all TEDMED delegates how honored we were to join them this year, add our voice to the conversation about the future of health and medicine and show how we intend to engage in the dialogue going forward. Anecdotally, we heard positive responses from those who received the gift. If you received one, post a comment here to tell me about it. Were you surprised? Inspired? Did you hang it on your wall? Let me know.