2020 Association Leadership Awards | LAI Video

A Virtual Awards Odyssey

For CEO Updates seventh annual Association Leadership Awards — a signature gala event for the news organization — we, like the rest of the world, had to go virtual. But that didnt mean we had to go safe. Inspired by the mainstream virtual shows of the pandemic (and maybe a touch of the hit animated film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), we worked with our sister companies, including LAI Live, to design an industry awards program so unforgettable that it could compete with the everyday distractions of home life or web browsers with multiple tabs.

This Is Not Normal

Traditionally, the ALA awards show, hosted by CEO Update, took place in some of DCs finest venues, with sets as impressive as the buffet spread. But in this new world order, things were different and the experts at LAI had to re-envision the event. Things were closed! Sure, we were still recognizing some of the best, most well known names in the association biz. But would that community still rally together on a glorified Zoom call?

Let’s Keep it Not Normal

Creative leaders from LAI Video, LAI Live, the Leading Authorities marketing team, and, of course, CEO Update gathered to devise a compelling hook that could both attract Zoom-fatigued attendees and still do right by the honorees. Loizou pitched a story arc that embraced the moment — a multi-act odyssey that saw Managing Director and CEO Update frontman, Mark Graham, literally being sucked into his computer, entering a psychedelic world of endless screens, avatars, and other virtual whimsy. Conversation by conversation, Mark embarked on a journey back to reality that saw him speaking with each ALA honoree through laptops, holograms, and, eventually, a socially distant office conference room.

It’s All Smoke and Mirrors and Face Masks

Under Tiffanys layered direction, these video segments seamlessly combined in-person filming, special effects shots, and completely animated sequences. Justin adapted the initial treatment into believable dialogue, while Rob conjured up a fluorescent, Tron-like design that would be used for the virtual backdrops, as well as show continuity elements. The complicated production was produced by Victoria, who organized multi-day shoots with Devon, Chelsie, Amaron, and the talent. The crew followed strict local and industry safety guidelines, filming at long distances, around corners, or even through glass. An equally agile post-production schedule had Jun, Anthony, and Mike editing and animating the videos up until the shows debut, ensuring a high quality visual experience with content that was still timely.

A Tale as Old as Time, Powered by Zoom

In the end, the videos made this years Association Leadership Awards the Wizard of Oz of association awards shows. And Michelle Mason was there. And Matthew Shay was there. And... you get it. The videos ultimately gave structure to a live show that was full of celebrity cameos, keynote presenters, and artfully placed sponsor logos (can you spot them all?). The whole virtual schtick was catchy and kitschy enough to keep viewers watching until the end, but never so silly that it undermined ALAs celebration of association perseverance. If anything, the final program itself was a testament to the unprecedented creative solutions and silver linings that manifest in the seemingly darkest of timelines.