Just An Online Minute... THIS Is How You Throw A Party That Keeps People Talking

The 3rd Annual Vibrant Awards, Top of the Rock, New York
June 3, 2010

Frequently, people ask me what party planners should keep in mind when attempting a memorable hootenanny.  The answer is so subjective because 23-year-old Kelly is into one thing, 33-year-old Kelly is into another, and future Kelly prefers warm milk, a muumuu and fuzzy monkey slippers.  Last night was the perfect milkshake of all three;  if you're partying to impress this summer (especially next week), take heed.

I'm going to stop talking third-person narrative style now. 

Give Their Senses An Inappropriate Massage: Private decks (yes, decks) at Top of The Rock with open bar.  When I read "The Weather Room at Top of the Rock" on the invitation, I assumed they meant in some windowed, air-conditioned room in the building.  I was not expecting the mouth-agape spectacle that unfolded when I stepped through the doors.  I didn't even know the space existed -- probably because when I was at Top of the Rock, I was too busy gazing outwards rather than down.  It was surreal.  The party occupied two private decks on both sides of the building, giving guests breathtaking views during all stages of sunset of lush, plush Central Park on the "Upper East Side" section and the looming Empire State Building on the "downtown" section.  Peering through the smog you could make out the Statue of Liberty AND The Williamsburg, Manhattan, and Brooklyn Bridges.  YES, all three.  Even the Chrysler Building tried its best to peek out from behind the Met Life Building.  I wanted to yell at all of the people who stayed indoors for not taking full advantage of this privilege.  I don't know if you can tell, but I was impressed.  I couldn't get enough of it.



Make All Guests Feel Like VIPS:  Everyone does it: classifying one group as VIP.  And usually it's meaningless, meant only to stroke the egos of those who want everyone to see that right there, see it, right there on that sticker, I'm a VIP!  Vibrant Media created a swank atmosphere of mystery with this party -- observed by the tourists up on the observation deck.  They craned their heads over the safety walls to peer at the rich kids at the fancy party.  As far as I know, we were all just hard-working schmucks in media, marketing, and advertising, taking the good shoes out for an industry bacchanal, but the fact that people were trying to get a peek made everyone feel special without being labeled as such.

Perceived Quality Over Quantity: While there wasn't a ton of of food, the presentation of what came out was gorgeous, and the waitstaff was sweet and attentive.  I don't even know what half of that stuff was (save the tiny mouth-burning patty melt), but it was beautiful.  Almost too beautiful to eat.  The only dark spot, literally, in the food arena was the cheese plate. Oy, it smelled.  And when you have stinky cheese that isn't highly visible, you cause rumblings of "Who forgot to wash their neckcheese off?"  You never want to create an atmosphere where guests start thinking the guy next to them is smelly.  Also? Figs are ugly.  

Fun/Drunk People: Oh man, I had the best conversations last night.   I had some great conversations with people who will remain anonymous, ranging from working executives to slutty dancing to an inability to burp (can you imagine?! The horror!).  On the record, I met Pat Rice of Initiative and Chris Clarke of PhD (part of Omnicom Group).  Pat Rice has one of those names that conjure up either the baddest kid in the neighborhood ("You don't @#$% with Pat Rice") or the smartest kid on the block ("Cheat off of Pat Rice's spelling test").  Chris Clarke shares my intense love of office supplies - his gateway supply is notebooks.  Mine? Slippery pens.

I also met the hair-bowed and peppy Kiana Watson and the teal-swathed Sarah Muir, both of Mindshare.  They were one of the first crews to brave the photobooth.  And this was no ordinary photobooth; it boasted the same type of high tech camera used at fight nights -- the kind that captures every blood and sweat splatter.  I'll link to the resulting photos when Vibrant posts them.

I reunited with Colin Gillis of BGC Voice and Electronic Brokerage and his adorable and no longer prego wife Louise Gillis of BrandWizard (last time I saw her she was about to shoot that baby right out). Colin is a fast talker, but man when he and his wife tag-team you, it's hard to keep up.  Good people, those two.  I also reunited with Erik Kopelman of Vibrant Media, who I met long ago at the Eyeblaster Awards.  We both have... interesting... memories from that night.  Raymond Norwood of SearchForecast entertained me for a bit, as did a dude from Draftfcb.  Spotted enjoying the fabulous views were Best Buy's Christine Neff, Director, Interactive Marketing & Emerging Media; Liza Magee, Senior Marketing Manager, Microsoft; and James Powel, Director, Digital Buying, Mindshare.

SHORT Awards Ceremony.  Oh right, we were all there for a reason - the Vibrant Awards, awards honoring the best in contextual advertising.  As Anna Kassoway, Vibrant SVP, Global Marketing and Creative; Doug Stevenson, Vibrant co-founder and CEO; and Sean Finnegan, Starcom Mediavest President and Chief Digital Officer, honored the winners, time flew.  But uh, that could have been the wine.  And that's fine, because everyone knows these awards are less about the winning and more about the schmooze.

Create A Safe Environment For People To Embarrass Themselves.  A wise man once said "no good career moves are made at the office Christmas party" -- but I wonder if that applies to industry boozers.  After the awards, about 70% of guests took off, leaving the hearty remaining 30% to their own devices.  And those devices included some fancy footwork from a khaki-clad guest and a bit of a "grinder" sandwich by a faceless few.  I'm a strong believer in photo karma, so I put my camera away for the most debaucherous moments, but believe me, there were plenty.

Thank you, Vibrant Media, for throwing a bash worth today's headache.  Internet Week? The bar has been set.

Photos with a view are up on Flickr

OH! And that 5th caption? Randomly generated from Twitter.

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