What’s an Ad Tech Company Doing at Sundance?

Written by Tim Edmundson


Leaving a lasting impression with the decision makers of big brands can be tough – they are wined and dined so often that cocktail hours or long dinners just don’t cut it. If the goal is to make the right first impression to a new brand or show your customers how important they are, you need to go above and beyond – that means dropping the regular routine and looking for opportunities that exceed even their seasoned expectations. So we created an event series to do just that; we call it SteelHouse Adventures.

If you’re an A-lister, you’re at Sundance. That’s an established fact when it comes to Hollywood – if you want to be somebody, you better be in Park City come January. It’s the best chance to showcase your premiere project, find up and coming talent, and get a sneak peek at the best new films before anyone else. You don’t want to miss it.

So why was SteelHouse at Sundance this year? We’re not slated to star in any big films, and our IMDB page is pretty sparse (read: non-existent). It may seem unlikely, but we’re there for the same reason as everyone else – we’re looking to debut a blockbuster. So we decided to surround ourselves with bold creativity, invite along some of our top partners, and show the entertainment world the next big thing in digital advertising. Here are just some of the elements that will help set you apart.


Location, Location, Location | Make Sure You Pick the Best Spot
Since we would be setting up shop for the weekend, we decided to go all out and play host to our partners at an amazing mountain estate. Boasting 9 fireplaces, a private movie theater, and a personal chef, this became our home away from home. And what a home it was – we knew we got it right when our partners were saying things like “I can never do Sundance again without you,” and “I don’t want to go back home – ever.”

Amongst all the fun, we gave our partners a glimpse of what’s to come at SteelHouse. The result? We secured top meetings with every single company. By any measure, our trip would be a success if we stopped the story right here. But it’s not over yet…

Provide a Variety of Activities | Make it a True Adventure
If we’re going to call these trips SteelHouse Adventures – we better make sure they live up to the name. We set up a wide range of activities and excursions to keep everyone’s spirits high.
Skiing & Snowboarding – First, we had a local equipment expert make a house call to tune and sharpen everyone’s gear. Next we hired a ski instructor to show the best way to navigate the slopes, and a private guide for our advanced skiers to get the most out of the mountain.
Ski in/Ski out – We didn’t want our guests wasting time going to and fro from lift to lift, so we offered a ski run right outside the back door. Not too shabby.
Football in our Private Theater – Sundance was definitely the main attraction, but it’s hard to ignore playoff football. We treated our guests to a viewing experience worthy of a seat at the game.
Exclusive Parties – If you’re going to party in Park City, having “exclusive” printed on the guest list is a must.
Billboard Winter Fest – We wanted to make sure the trip had it all, so why not throw some music in the mix? Wiz Khalifa put on an amazing set and we were front row for it all.

The Gift Bag | Give Gifts That Matter
Forget the t-shirts, iPhone accessories, water bottles, stress balls, and mouse pads — those just end up in a junk drawer. If you want to leave a lasting impression, you better make sure you’re giving your guests gifts they’ll remember. Better still if its something they actually need.

Surrounded by snow, we decided to give the gift of warmth. Each guest received a Sackcloth & Ashes blanket with a SteelHouse label sewn on each, which made for a nice, cozy memento. Branded beanies and gloves found use out on the slopes, and a mug filled with hot chocolate and a bottle of Irish whiskey did their share of warming in front of the fireplace. And with our schedule keeping us on the go, we gave everyone a Herschel backpack to keep it all together. We didn’t go over the top with our gifts – we gave gifts that mattered.


Make Your Experience Unique | Set Yourself Apart
We knew we had a huge opportunity to create a strong brand presence, and that’s what we set out to do. We sponsored “Tallulah,” one of the best-reviewed movies at the festival. We had VIP access to the sold-out premiere, sponsorship of the premiere party with almost 400 of the most influential people in the industry, and hosted an exclusive dinner with the cast and crew of the movie. SteelHouse’s team made the rounds, rubbed elbows with the stars, and made one hell of an impression. We’re slated for follow up meetings with several premiere entertainment companies.

Founder and CEO of SteelHouse, Mark Douglas, put it best, “We couldn’t pass up on the chance to pair up with ‘Tallulah’ for Sundance – it’s such a great film, and we were honored to put our name next to it. The whole experience was tremendous and opened doors to very important conversations.”

Remember to Promote it | Tell the World Who You Are
Our company has been making headlines for it’s astonishing growth, and we wanted to carry that momentum into Sundance with what we do best. We went all out with geo targeted campaigns, branded cars, and the best seats in the house no matter where we went.

Sundance was a lot of fun, but more importantly, it was a smashing success for our brand. We shared a great experience with some of our most valued partners, one they won’t soon forget. Here’s what they had to say:

“I’m still having a hard time believing all we fit into the weekend. I’ve never been part of such an exclusive, unbarred, all out experience. Everything was perfect, from the house, cooked meals, snowboarding, and of course, SUNDANCE! I can check that off my list, and really appreciate you guys including me in an awesome event, it was truly epic.”

“The trip was seriously the most fun I’ve had in a while. Can we do this again next year? How about next month? Seriously, thanks for the invitation. I’m looking forward to our continued partnership and am excited to see what the future holds.”

We were having the time of our lives with top decision makers in the entertainment industry. We made made the most of this experience by generating meetings, starting new relationships, and strengthening current ones. It was a productive weekend to say the least.

Patrizio Spagnoletto, CMO of SteelHouse, summed it up perfectly when discussing the experience and the lessons learned, “We need to do a million more of these adventures.”

We couldn’t agree more and can’t wait to start packing for the next adventure.