Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

August 19 2013

Major Failure in Event Safety Planning

By David McMillin



Any event planner who has been hired to oversee the logistics behind a new product launch recognizes just how important that big debut is to the client’s bottom line. It has to be creative enough to capture the attention of attendees. It has to be noteworthy enough to get those attendees to talk about it and spread the word to their friends and colleagues. Behind all that excitement, though, there’s one absolutely crucial element: it has to be safe.

It seems that safety may have been a bit lost in the shuffle at an event hosted by mobile company LG in Seoul, South Korea. In an effort to build some buzz behind the new LG G2 smartphone, the company planned a “G in the cloud” event and released 100 balloons in the air stuffed with vouchers redeemable for a free new G2. According to BBC News, consumers showed up with BB guns and knives in anticipation of being one of the lucky ones to snag one of those vouchers. It seems that today’s budget-minded consumer will do anything to get something for free, including bringing weapons to a park in the capital of South Korea.

When attendees fired their BB guns at the balloons in an effort to bring them down and secure their free phones, not surprisingly, people were injured. LG issued a statement that seven people were hospitalized and that the company will cover all medical expenses.

SEE ALSO: Do You Have a Disaster Plan?

There is no word on a) why event organizers didn’t refuse entrance to attendees who arrived with weapons, b) why there weren’t security officials on-site or c) why people aren’t more concerned that crowds of people are unpredictable.

On another note, the entire mishap raises another crucial question outside the realm of safety: what exactly was the goal of the publicity stunt? Sure, putting some coupons in balloons might draw some media attention, but how would attendees actually cash in on the free phone coupons? They wouldn’t. These helium balloons could have traveled many, many miles before landing in an unsuspecting resident’s backyard, on the rooftop of a building, in a body of water or any other range of places. The only planned takeaway for anyone who actually came to the event would be the satisfaction of knowing that they watched some balloons go into the air - - and the pain of a BB gunshot wound.

1 Comment

  1. 1 Joan Eisenstodt 20 Aug
    The assumption made - that every event has to be safe - is one that most planners (and vendors) do not put first. Our industry thinks that nothing will happen to anyone -- because for them, it hasn't happened. Or they dismiss the stories from others and they sure don't read the new. (If they did, the droughts and fires in the Western US and flooding in Southern US, the Florida OJ crop virus, and so many other issues would be discussed here and elsewhere to determine how to protect a meeting and the guests.)

    This event should have done q-storming(R)  -- where every conceivable question was asked to consider what could happen. It's a great technique that allows people to get this far in their thinking .. "this far" being to the knives and BB guns.

    Another case in point is another industry group on linkedin didn't want to have a discussion about the Russian law that prohibits any discussion of LGBT issues to anyone 18 and younger. (I'm paraphrasing .. the law is far worse than that.)  It is of course a huge issue with the upcoming winter Olympics and the concern about boycotts, and about athletes and visitors, being arrested. The industry group said that a law made in Russia only pertained (ready for it?) to Russia! (They also think that discussing the global impact of the US govt. Sequestration is not global .. only local because well .. I don't know!)

    Safety first .. if only we practiced it in every way ..from site selection, to entertainment, seating/no seating, ADA, fire, floods, droughts, and everything.

    H/T to Lesly Rehaut for reposting this on FB - I'd not yet gotten to my PCMA news.

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