• Freeman wove innovative technology, fabric, and custom elements to bring the new brand identity to life and engage attendees in unprecedented ways; the ADA brand was incorporated into the new name of the meeting, because of members’ affinity with the ADA.


• The opening general session, which featured President Bill Clinton as the keynote speaker, used five giant screens to create a dynamic experience. (Approximately 90 percent of attendees rated their overall experience at the general session as excellent or good).


• Giant entrance units to the exhibition hall incorporated dynamic video content plus audio on four screens using an advanced rear-projection technology from a company called Vikuiti. This created the illusion of floating video—a cool canvas for ever-changing messages.


• By weaving continuing education courses throughout the show floor, ADA was able to encourage traffic flow to exhibitors’ booths. In fact, the Health and Fitness Center, a new area featuring courses on nutrition and wellness, and the Education in the Round live-patient operatory courses were completely sold out. The Dental Office Design Center and the New and Emerging Speaker Series were also popular.


The ADA received praise from attendees in followup evaluations, according to Mills, with some saying they “felt energized and educated,” and others dubbing the program the “best ADA meeting I have ever been to.” More than 90 percent of attendees were satisfied or very satisfied with the meeting and 95 percent thought the meeting was effective in addressing their reasons for attending. In addition, dental professionals took 40 percent more continuing education courses at the 2013 meeting than in 2012.

Sparks, who works with many different clients in the corporate and association world, has strong praise for the staff and volunteers at the ADA. “What the ADA did is extremely brave. We were expecting our survey and eventual path to be about event objectives, but we came out with an entire redo of the show’s branding. They showed a significant trust in the process; they opened their eyes wide enough to listen to members, both attendees and non-attendees,” says Sparks. “That’s not a common or comfortable place for an association, so I applaud the board, the council, and staff, for making a major decision to change and elevate their brand.”

In 2014, the ADA plans to incorporate even more innovative attendee and exhibitor experiences recommended in the marketing strategy. Some of the high-level goals will be to enhance adult learning by upping the level of interaction with technology, facilitate networking among all attendees, and create online forums for year-round interaction.