Taking global branding to the next level
Written by: 
Molly Shaw
Produced by: 
Sean Barr

VWV USA (VWV) makes its claim to fame as a global brand agency. The Texas-based firm specializes in creating experiences that change perceptions and inspire action. Through event production, installations and exhibits, film and video production, presentations, digital media, multimedia and guest management, VWV effectively promotes business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing and communications.

VWV successfully merges the digital and physical world to create a memorable, one-of-a-kind experience. The company operates individual platforms, but really focuses on deploying all facets simultaneously, effectively engaging and awakening the senses –touch, taste, smell, sight and sound- the things that bring a brand to life.

“The way we work is very much an integrated approach,” explains Kelly Massey, now president of VWV. “We don’t look to do just a digital campaign because the digital and physical aspects have to come together; one relies on the other and the key is to make them work together. There are other agencies that only specialize in one, but VWV brings it all together.”

A U.S. home base with global reach

VWV has been bringing the best of event production, installations and exhibitions, film and video production, digital media, multimedia, presentations and guest management together since the company formed 32 years ago. Having worked in more than 20 countries and numerous continents, VWV is now a global brand agency, but the company came to life in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“VWV was founded in 1982 by our chairman Mark Warick Steinhubble and his three partners, hence the VWV, but the two partners have been gone for a long time,” tells Massey. “I met Mark about 14 years ago on a project while I was working for a company called Freeman.”

“When VWV wanted to expand, Mark asked me to run the U.S. arm of the company,” recounts Massey. “The rest is history.”

Brewing corporate business partnerships

Today, VWV has made its mark in the U.S. with a head office in Grapevine, Texas, but the company still tackles projects all over the world. “One of our oldest and largest clients is South African Breweries, now known as SAB-Miller,” tells Massey. “When SAB bought Miller Brewing, Mark came to the U.S. and wanted to launch an annual convention for the company. We produced the first one in 2004 and we’ve been doing it ever since. We’re coming up on the 12th annual conference.”

VWV has been building longstanding relationships with major repeat clients throughout its history. “I was recently at a strategy session meeting in Johannesburg,” tells Massey. “We discussed how our main strengths are creative and strategic direction. Everyone says that, but it’s truly the reason we have such long relationships with clients –at the end of the day we’re really a part of their business.”

The company has facilitated equivalent distributor conferences for SAB-Miller from Australia to London to South Africa and beyond. “When Miller and Coors merged in 2009, we continued to keep business ties with the company and we still do a lot of work all over the world with them,” tells Massey.

In 2011, VWV rallied 3,500 independent Miller-Coors distributors at the USA Distributor Conference in San Antonio, centered on the company’s rock theme with the goal to out-do all previous conferences in experience and impact. VWV’s solution consisted of a multilayered set with 39 separate panels in three different planes of depth measuring 223 feet wide by 29 feet high, on which the company displayed multiple projects and video presentations to elevate the audience and kick off the event.

Pushing the envelope in events

“We’re in the middle of planning for the 2015 Miller-Coors conference now,” adds Massey. “VWV really ramps up from January to the end of June. It happens to be our busiest time of year –80 percent of our revenue comes from the first six to seven month of the year so right now there’s a great deal of planning going into this convention.”

Massey says the Miller-Coors convention is unlike anything in the corporate arena in the U.S. “There aren’t many events left where the client gives us so much creative freedom,” he measures. “Miller-Coors really wants to push the envelope—it’s not cookie cutter at all. They have to speak to a layered audience –employees, distributors and consumers- all at once. The event has to speak to all three layers, so it’s complex, strategic and challenging for us. We find it to be very rewarding.”

VWV has also launched a new brand of cider called Smith and Forge in 2014. “We helped design and market the product, as well as launching it into marketplace through events and on premise promos in bars and such,” says Massey. “It’s been an interesting project because Smith and Forge is a brand new company and we’ve been heavily involved in the release of the product.”

But outside of big brewing business, VWV delivers epic events for a broad range of major brands –Ford Motors, MTV, Nestle, Cadbury, ISCOR, Dream Circle and many more. “In the U.S. alone, we will have completed approximately 50 projects by the end of 2014,” reveals Massey. “We recently launched the 2015 Mustang for Ford, but one of the largest events we’ve ever done is the 2010 FIFA World Cup opening and closing ceremonies.”

With such expertise and wide ranging experience, VWV was recently named to Special Events Magazine’s Top 50 firms list. For a creative, yet strategic vision that truly blends the best of digital and physical channels, clients have called on VWV USA to make their brand come to life.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
Color Reflections