Event Marketer 2011 It List

Issue cover and special section for Event Marketer magazine.

The challenge: Event Marketer magazine’s annual “It List” showcases the top 100 agencies in its industry. According to the client, this select list includes “agencies that are doing great work…representing the industry as a serious discipline…and moving the needle on their client’s revenue.” The magazine’s goal for the issue was that it be “the Bible…the Zagat Guide, the Forbes list of best agencies in the business.”

The idea: I envisioned this celebration of the top 100 agencies as an event itself. In my three rough concepts for the client (below), I tied the visuals to large-scale events—a rock concert, a carnival, an awards ceremony—that had iconography (a cheering crowd and stage, a high-striker game, and a red carpet, respectively) that would be immediately recognizable to the reader.

Event Marketer It List Cover Concepts

The winner is: My preference was the rock concert version. To me, the agencies were “rock stars” in their particular arena, and their inclusion in the 2011 It List was the equivalent of admiring fans cheering them on. Since each agency is “spotlighted” in the issue, I liked that this concept used light—a setting flooded by stage lighting with the word “it” as a monumentally large light wall—to represent the listees. Fortunately, this was also the client’s choice. I love when that happens. The final cover art (below) is consistent with the rough thumbnail, but the “it” light wall has been filled with many lights, rather than just the outline in the rough, and a slight color change was made to the highlights hitting the audience.

Event Marketer August 2011 Final Cover Design

Behind the scenes: The cover was composited from two separate stock images—one for the stage, and one for the crowd. The original crowd in the stage image (below left) was replaced with the more interesting and detailed crowd in another image (below center), and I created for the “it” light wall in Adobe Illustrator (below right), which was then enhanced in Photoshop with blurs and glows to integrate it into the overall composition.

Stock photo and Illustrator source images

Section cover: A variation of the cover was required to open the top 100 listing section within the magazine. This version required a substantial amount of copy space for introductory text, as well as the magazine’s folios and lined page grid, so the composition changed significantly from the issue cover (see image below). The same stage image was used (but its full width, which had been cropped on the issue cover, was revealed) and the original crowd from that image was used to create a more distant point of view than on the issue cover.

Event Marketer It List Section Cover/Introduction

The listings: The constraints of the interior section were an 8-company-per-page grid, and the editors wrote and cut to fit that in order to get it all in the allotted page count. A page header consistent with the issue and section covers tops all pages and spreads (see below; click image for larger view).

Event Marketer It List interior spread

Icons & flags: A handful of companies were singled out in various categories—red hot, one to watch, boutique superstar, plugged in, etc.—by the editors, and icons were attached to the listings for companies that received those designations. I wanted to keep the iconography consistent with the rock concert theme (see final icons below), so graphics like a flaming guitar, spotlight, vinyl album (for proven veterans still going strong), headphone jack, and mixing board controls were used to represent the various attributes being highlighted.

Event Marketer It List icon set

The listings themselves were typographically very dense, with a lot of information—core competencies, revenue, client list, phone, URL, e-mail, etc.—sharing a small space with the editors’ comments, the icons, and a page reference to sponsored case study stories elsewhere in the section. To avoid adding yet another line of text (“See Case Study on page XX”), I treated that as a notched arrow adornment in the bottom right corner of the listing with the page number set within it (below, right). The explanations for both the icons and the red case study flags were handled in a key in the outer left margin (below, left) on each spread within the section. Icons and red page flags were handled as custom anchored objects within the InDesign layout and managed with Object Styles to guarantee consistent and pixel-perfect positioning in every listing.

Event Marketer It List page element details

The reviews: At the end of the process, I got this feedback from my client: “…the package looks awesome and the team couldn’t be more thrilled. We really enjoyed this process working with you and definitely hope to do it again…”

And the winner is…everybody!