This past week we launched our very first large-scale creative event at Future Commerce. Our Archetypes launch event at Art Basel was an evening of curated art, modern dance, and original music.

So I thought I would recap how we pulled it off with our very small team of ten here at Future Commerce. To make it interesting, here are 12 ways we planned and executed the most elevated eCom event at Art Basel 2022 in just 12 weeks with a limited budget.

Art Basel

First, a primer. To test the waters, we hosted our very first Salon-style dinner at Art Basel in 2021. Art Basel is an international art fair staged annually in Basel, Switzerland. Miami Beach has hosted the event for nearly twenty years.

Pictured: our Art Basel 2021 event at The Four Seasons Surfside, North Miami Beach

The goal was to turn out the deepest thinkers, to change the conversation in eCommerce away from tactics and towards deep thinking.

We made some key connections there. Brilliant minds like Rebekah Kondrat, Vincenzo Landino, Marco Marandiz, Magdalena Kala — all of whom I met via Twitter. I shared our perspective on Commerce. Their response: you have to do this more. And bigger.

This very small team of ten here at FC was determined to pull off a large-scale event with the support of a key partner. Adobe put their trust in us to pull it together in just four months with a limited budget.

The Future Commerce team (minus one)

The Twelve

Our Archetypes Journal features twelve archetypal characters common in literature. Our belief is that every brand is a character in a story. Every one of us identifies with brands that exude our own personal archetypes, as well. Finding brands that resonate with us at moments in our lives when we’re most romantic, or most vulnerable, mean a resonant connection that can last for a generation.

Those archetypes are:

  • The Innocent
  • The Everyman
  • The Explorer
  • The Sage
  • The Ruler
  • The Outlaw
  • The Caregiver
  • The Creator
  • The Jester
  • The Magician
  • The Lover
  • The Hero

So for the sake of this article, let’s organize our “how to throw an event like Archetypes” recap into the format of The Twelve. Explanations of the Archetypes are available in our book.

The Innocent

The Innocent is an upright character. Blameless in both intentions and in deeds. The Innocent wants a more honest and transparent way to do business, so that everyone shares in the rewards for their contributions.

We're new at this. To stay on-budget we hired Locust Florals, a remote florist from Springfield, Missouri. Sarah Strake designed sustainable arrangements, recorded instructions for us on how to build them, and then ordered the materials for us for pickup.

Pictured: We hired a floral designer to help us create eye-catching arrangements that heightened the senses of the event.

We saved >$8,000 by doing DIY. It was painful, and time-consuming. But worth it.

The Everyman

An ordinary and approachable character. Always within reach, always there for us, from cradle to grave.

We like elevated events, but we don't love elevated prices. We got wine from the largest wine retailer in North America — Costco.

By shopping at a price club we got a TON of great product with a discount, and we could return everything that we didn't use.

The Explorer

A seeker of the unknown and undiscovered. The Explorer sees the world as a series of uncharted lands and hidden mysteries, each waiting for their discovery.

We crafted spaces with no dead ends. We keep our options open for you to wander and discover new areas of intentionality. Every angle, and every sightline was thought through. Every direction you look you'll see something new.

The Sage

A character with the gift of discernment and wisdom. One who can impart knowledge and insight to others.

We commissioned the creation of a labyrinth to guide people on their journey.

We were able to help people see themselves as a pivotal part of the story of the event by making it immersive. We had prompts that asked people to let go of their apprehensions.

The Ruler

A lawful authority who governs others through powerful means. Strong-willed and decisive

Build anticipation. We knew from experience that Art Basel creates traffic and delays. Being away from Miami Beach in the Wynwood area meant we could contain costs, but had to manage the fact that people would be delayed.

Pictured: a section of our in-queue quiz that allows you to find your Archetype.

So we created a queue experience that assisted you in finding your Archetype and claiming an NFT. This allowed us to control and direct people's attention away from the waiting, and into the anticipation. All in an effort to heighten the experience.

The Outlaw

A defiant rebel with conviction. Discontent with the status-quo. Outlaws are pioneers and innovators.

Break the rules. We intentionally did not tell our core audience that we had centered this event around 4 modern dances. The fact is that many of our engaged podcast listeners and tech professionals would not have come. But the feedback; wow. People were blown away

The Caregiver

The self-sacrificing protector of others. Brands that hold this archetype are driven to ensure that others are safe, nurtured, and cared for in every way.

So much of our industry despises wiser and older people; we've become exclusionary. We focus on the fresh new faces (ahem, 30 under 30) and forget the value of our elders. We intentionally hired dancers in their 50's to 70's to show that commerce knows no age.

The Creator

The parent of new ideas, visions, and realities. The Creator is a visionary and a dreamer, who pursues their goals with unwavering dedication.

Our team created custom music so that we wouldn't have to license existing music, and so we could control the length and pace. Our events creative director and choreographer, Kristen Vencel worked together with our producer, Chris Harry, to set the tone and the mood.

The Jester

Speaks truth for the disenfranchised, and their jokes are directed at those in authority.

We looked at this event as a chance to make a commentary on the silliness of business events where we sit in a room looking at one person, instead of each other, guided by the members on the team who have not been in eCom their whole career.

This allowed us to let go of our suppositions about what's "supposed" to happen at Art Basel or an eCom event. We're beginning to see ourselves as critics and historians more than marketers and demand generators.

This is a huge shift, and one the industry needs more of.

The Magician

A mysterious and Almighty character that enchants us with their powers.
Photo by Henson & Co.

The point of an event like this is to be filled with surprises. We divided our evening into two parts — networking and exploring, and performance. Our freestylist dancer caught everyone's attention by evoking mystery and catching us off guard, kicking off part two of the event.

The Lover

A seeker of beauty and grace. Full of conviction, The Lover is brave enough to go against convention.
Photo by Henson & Co.

We're romantic about Commerce. We believe it connects all of us. How do we show that? Our choreographer slow-danced with her husband while our audience. We had them wear headphones to isolate them, and get the music as close to them as possible.

Intimacy. We need more of that in the world of eCommerce, which all-too-often focuses on “optimization” — tactics that attempt to extract more money from the wallets of customers.

The Hero

The protagonist who is victorious over struggles and trials.
Pictured: Future Commerce Creative Director, Jesse Tyler, serving Ghia at the Archetypes event. Photo by Henson & Co.

The real hero of our evening was team member Rachel, who ran out for ice at the last second when our bartender got stuck in over 2 hours of traffic. You can’t serve warm drinks to guests who have been waiting outside.

Rachel saved the day for our NA beverage sampling station, an activation put on by Thingtesting.

Come to the next Archetypes event

The full listing of our performers at the event is available here.

If you want to come to our next Archetypes event, it's easy to do so. Sign up for our newsletter and you'll be notified when we announce our next event.