Having arrived at Leeds’ Royal Armouries venue, Adline’s first task is to find out our stand for the day. Joining members from the marketing and media community of Yorkshire, Adline is exhibiting at this year’s Refuel event. As it turns out, we’ve been allotted Stand Number 11. It’s next to the food and drinks table, which ensures that there’s enough tea and biscuits to keep our energies up for the duration. Therefore, while Stand 11 is no Stand 36 (the slot that, rather conveniently, sits adjacent to the free bar), we’re more than happy with our spot and are ready for the crowds.
From the placement of the stands to the free bar to the complimentary tea and biscuits, Refuel2004 is already starting to look very impressive and, while looks can often be misleading, this event has all the personality to back it up. As we meander through the stands, to meet and greet our neighbours for the next nine hours, it’s very clear that Refuel2004 has the support of all corners of the marketing and media community. From leading agencies such as Propaganda, Brahm, The Poulter Group and Principles to other key organisations from the region, such as Yorkshire Forward, Yorkshire Post and Leeds Metropolitan University, the room is packed to the rafters with companies with a lot to offer the visiting delegates.
It doesn’t stop there either, as we pick up our delegate’s pack (that’s right, Adline is an exhibitor and a delegate) we scan through the list of guest speakers. Sparing absolutely no expense (it would seem), Refuel2004 is littered with speakers who not only have an interesting story to tell, but also have every right to offer marketeers advice, having established themselves at the very top of their respective games.
Refuel2004 is a Leeds Media initiative. It’s the organisation’s responsibility to promote the city’s media and communications sector and, in this event, it’s hoped the event will give delegates, exhibitors and speakers an opportunity to meet, network and possibly do business in an informal, out-of-the-office environment.
The responsibility of organising this year’s event has been bestowed upon Brahm, and the word on the street (well, the little pretend streets that allow delegates to walk around and see the stands without bumping into things) is that the Leeds-based firm has done a sterling job. Ably abetting Brahm and Leeds Media in making the event a success is nCompass Group. The Harrogate-based firm has worked on the design, graphics, furniture and all the other technical stuff that is going towards making this event extremely memorable.
Providing the welcoming address and MCing throughout the day is former Advertising Principles new biz director-cum-professional speaker, Philip Hesketh. After warming the crowd with his unique brand of anecdotal chatter, Hesketh introduces the event’s first key speaker. Having made the trip up from Birmingham, Karen Brady, managing director of Birmingham City FC and widely considered \"the first lady of football\" (although, don’t tell Delia), is here to talk \"business, branding and balls\". Having taken the reins at the club when she was just 23, Brady has helped turn around the club’s fortunes from financially struggling, under-performing first division side to a financially stable Premiership outfit. On the way out of this first session, it’s immediately apparent that Brady has managed to set the pace for a thoroughly interesting series of speeches. Taking the baton next are the speakers in the first briefings of the day, David Charlesworth, head of sponsorship at Channel 4, and William Hill’s group marketing director, Peter Nolan. Charlesworth is here to discuss the misconceptions, different approaches and basic rules of TV sponsorship, while Nolan is highlighting the role of online gaming for William Hill. As these briefings draw to a close and the delegates pour out of the two conference rooms, they appear to be extremely impressed with the relevance of the speakers that Leeds Media has managed to enrol.
While Adline would be delighted to reel off the sponsors supporting the event, there is a restriction on space so, for further details, www.refuel2004.co.uk should fill in the blanks. The event’s main sponsor, however, deserves a special mention. Propaganda – one of Leeds’ most prominent and potent marketing agencies – has not only contributed a significant amount to getting the event to happen, but is also sponsoring Martin Penny, managing director of ghd. He’s here to discuss, in one of the afternoon’s briefing sessions, the firm’s meteoric rise over the last two years.
Also providing one of the afternoon briefings is BT’s head of commercial sponsorship, Paul Leonard. He’s here providing a talk on the importance of taking a fresh approach to sponsorship activity, explaining BT’s strategy towards this aspect of the business.
Concluding the talks and down as one of Refuel2004’s key speakers (the other being Brady) is PepsiCo UK & Ireland president Martin Glenn. As well as taking time out to speak to Adline (see page 16), Glenn is on hand to cast his expert eye over some key industry topics such as the importance of the trust people have in brands and the role of the PepsiCo brands – Walkers, Tropicana, Pepsi and Quaker Foods.
Commenting on the day, an ecstatic Terry Morden, chief executive of Leeds Media, said: \"An event of this kind is a significant barometer of the health of any sector and, based on this evidence, I’d say that the communications industry in this area has never been stronger.
\"Combining high-profile headline speakers with practical briefings from well-respected organisations such as William Hill, ghd, BT and Channel 4 allows for key industry issues to be addressed and debated and encourages creativity and new ways of thinking.\"
He concluded: \"In addition, drawing marketing heads and decision makers to Leeds gives us the platform to show off the wealth of talent and expertise that Leeds has to offer and will, hopefully, bring new business to the region and build on the excellent reputation we have already established.\"
With the organisers, fellow exhibitors and delegates all delighted with the outcome, it’s quite fitting that, in his closing address, Hesketh congratulated the organisers, thanked the sponsors and announced that he was looking forward to seeing everyone at Refuel2005. We’ll be there with bells on.