Sitting on the precipice of change, Karin Wijeratne and Ifham Ariff – the Managing Partners of Eventistry and 87 – feel they are bound for great things. As the marketing team behind Lanka Premier League (LPL) franchise team Dambulla Viiking, Asia Rugby and the West Asia Baseball Cup, they’re poised for an interesting future.
Wijeratne and Ariff have exposure to both local and global markets, which has helped them and Eventistry recognise the scope of event and experiential marketing that remains untapped in Sri Lanka.
This leads the company to believe that there is potential to establish this concept in Sri Lanka.
Eventistry views ‘event management’ and ‘event marketing’ as different concepts that are not interchangeable. Ariff reveals that introducing this to the country and presenting sports marketing to the local market is at the forefront of the company’s vision.
Audiences generally have no connection to artistes, players or entertainers prior to or following events that they attend, which results in a lack of excitement, and limits the experience and exposure to brands. Globally, event marketing has become the ecosystem that connects all stakeholders.
Eventistry has adopted this understanding as a motivating factor – and since the organisation takes pride in being well-versed in the art of advertising, Wijeratne aspires to give audiences goosebumps from the moment they leave their homes: “The anticipation of and connection to events that get people’s adrenaline pumping seem to be lacking, which is what we hope to generate through our operations.”
Ariff points out that Sri Lanka’s natural landscape and environmental conditions are ideal for marketing water and adventure sports. That being said, Eventistry is proud to be the franchise owner of the upcoming world cups for windsurfing and kitesurfing, which are to be held in July and September respectively.
Highlighting the difference between event management and marketing is necessary to present a more holistic narrative of the organisation’s operations.
Event management is seen as a process in which agencies receive briefs from clients and follow through as stated in these requests. This approach lacks creativity, questioning or inputs from the agencies that could make a difference. Therefore, Eventistry prefers to remain detached from this classification.
Rather, the company strives to take ideas and formulate captivating stories, believing that an event is incomplete if fans are not excited to be part of the story they’re witnessing. Ariff notes that the success of events cannot be measured purely based on social media engagement but instead, the entertainment value generated and ROI garnered by brands.
With Eventistry’s formidable team, which Wijeratne states is key to its success, the organisation is geared to meet the needs of all its clients. Experts from various walks of life – such as event management and marketing, digital media, content creation and graphic design, and creatives – are committed to formulating 360 degree through the line event marketing strategies.
The business aspires to achieve differentiation through the stories that it narrates to audiences – regardless of whether this is in relation to mundane conferences or highly anticipated sporting events.
Ariff maintains that Eventistry strives to encompass even the minutest details of events – from beginning to end – in its stories: “Considerable attention is paid to the discovery of new ways to enhance the overall experience of attendees and performers at events.”
The managing partners emphasise the need to move away from standardising event management as a whole and instead, benchmark global practises of specialising in particular areas – sports marketing; festival management; and meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) for example.
From Eventistry’s perspective, the failure to do so is a contributing factor to the deteriorating quality of events in the country.
Ariff’s stance on prevailing market conditions is that there are no shortcomings in terms of equipment or talent. In fact, he is of the opinion that individuals are reluctant to change their mindsets, and stresses that event marketers should be bold in creating the necessary change and brands need to be ready to embrace this.
Moreover, Eventistry feels that sports and sports tourism is relatively untouched in Sri Lanka. In a country that is ideal for such activities, plenty can be achieved if they’re marketed accordingly.
Ariff states that the company aspires to give rise to destination marketing, uplift communities, enhance ROIs for brands and increase the inflow of investments to Sri Lanka through sports.
Meanwhile, Wijeratne notes that the organisation’s subsidiary 87 is geared to bring in more expertise in terms of creative, digital and technological aspects to boost the effectiveness of these endeavours.
Eventistry intends to take its operations beyond Sri Lanka’s shores by establishing a branch in the Maldives in the near future.
– Compiled by Randheer Mallawaarachchi