'Fast Company' Stages 'Innovation' Event, Ups Sponsorship Revenue

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, business publisher Fast Companyhad to pivot its annual Innovation Festival event into a virtual one — and more than doubled the number of sponsors from last year’s event, and topping previous sponsorship revenue.

October 2020 media revenue for parent company Mansueto Ventures,  which also owns sister publication Inc., will surpass October 2019 revenue.

Fast Company reinvented its sixth annual Fast Company Innovation Festival as a week-long, fully virtual event, held October 5-9.  



“The entire company, every aspect of every department, touched this thing,” John Donnelly, CRO of Mansueto Ventures, told Publishers Daily. “Every single person has been involved in pulling this together.”

Donnelly joined Manuseto as publisher of Inc. in 2014. He has served in his current role since January 2018.

The Innovation Festival typically draws several thousand paid attendees. Tickets for the 2020 event ranged from $149 to $599. This year, keynote sessions were free to access online.

Fast Company told marketers they would hit 25,000 registrations for the Innovation Festival, but hit 30,000 — five-times the number of registrations in 2019, according to Donnelly.

The event had more than 13,000 unique views, and 43,000 total log-ins, which is “significantly higher than anything we’ve had live,” he said.

Twelve out of 13 sponsors were new this year. In addition to presenting sponsor Booz Allen Hamilton, the sponsors for the Innovation Festival 2020 include: Boston Scientific, Capital One, EPOS, Facebook, Honeywell, Kohler Co., Lenovo, Meals on Wheels America, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and Verizon.

The “interactions and the ability to network one on one with people you wouldn’t ordinarily have access to - there is an incredible amount of value out of this,” Donnelly said. “One on one time was materially important to our sponsors,” he added.

Without live set ups and breakout rooms as opportunities for sponsorship, Fast Company hosted sponsored virtual panels, working with clients to create custom content.

12 out of 13 sponsors took advantage of the offering. Fast Company Studio amplified the content across the Fast Company website, and gave sponsors the option to put it up on their owned and operated sites.

Fast Company "matched the dollar amount with amplification and content - that’s why we more than doubled from 2019,” Donnelly said.

The company, he noted, had no layoffs, salary cuts or furloughs this year, despite economic pressures from the pandemic.

Inc., meanwhile, is hosting its annual Inc. 5000 Vision Conference virtually this week.

Sponsors include Capital One, Insperity, Thomson Reuters, Facebook, Lenovo, Mercedes Benz and Principal Financial.

Inc. is partnering with creative studio DOTDOT to "gamify" networking between the companies featured on the Inc. 5000 list (the 5,000 fastest companies growing in America) and event sponsors.

Inc. worked with DOTDOT to design The Marketplace, a virtual main street with a red carpet, an art gallery, recreation center and theater, where conference attendees can explore and socialize between planned events.

Guests can participate in trivia competitions, golf matches and create their own art. Attendees also receive a downloadable swag bag, with literature from sponsors and a conference "passport." As they explore The Marketplace, guests will receive stamps in their passports.

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