HSBC SIBOS StandWinner of Best Sponsorship Activation at ICEAWARDS

Sibos is a leading, global financial services conference attracting over 12,000 experts and senior decision-makers from key markets. In this competitive environment, HSBC wanted to have a strong presence in order to maximise its opportunities for spending quality time with existing clients and prospects. HSBC set THREE clearly defined objectives for their sponsorship of SIBOS 2019 which had grown from and were defined by the learnings from previous years of attendance, one of which was a pledge to showcase their commitment to sustainability.

Category: Best Sponsorship Activation Event

Sponsor: Barbican

Winner : HSBC

Event : SIBOS

Location : London, UK

The Objectives
Sibos, taking place at the Excel in London, provided the opportunity to create an exhibition stand that generated an inspiring customer experience and facilitated client meetings. The sponsorship also allowed HSBC to capitalise on speaking opportunities that would promote the HSBC brand and attract extensive media coverage. 

The three key objectives were to improve customer experience through a great stand experience, to improve the HSBC brand perception as thought leaders and to ensure their exhibition stand showcased the theme of sustainability.

The primary objective was to target the key decision makers amongst their most valued clients whilst raising brand profile amongst all the 12,000+ Sibos delegation. To increase their brand visibility and positioning, they wanted to secure more speaking slots than in previous years and increase their social media presence during the event to increase their reach with their wider target audience.

The Challenges
Based on previous feedback, more meeting space would be required to meet demand. One of the challenges was creating a functional exhibition stand in order to host quality meetings with clients and prospects over a short period of time, while also embracing the bank’s chosen theme, financing sustainability. 

Feedback from Sibos highlighted that the meeting rooms on the stand were too small to host larger, cross-line of business meetings, so they needed to ensure the design plans for 2019 took this into consideration. The stand also had to demonstrate progression in terms of a sustainable aesthetic, messaging around sustainability, and the sustainable approach to the construction and materials used whilst retaining the key functions of providing meeting spaces and a coffee bar.

Due to the nature of large, indoor, trade-show exhibitions, there are many regulations relating to health and safety and fire approvals. Any materials used within a stand construction had to be documented and submitted for approval ahead of the event. Many recycled or sustainably sourced materials are not yet approved for use within an exhibition environment and therefore can’t be used, which became a challenge when creating a sustainable stand. 

The Solution
To improve the HSBC brand perception as thought leaders, the team secured 12 speaker slots for high-profile HSBC leaders across the conference covering a range of key topics. A new stand concept allowed them to showcase HSBC’s commitment to sustainability and help influence their brand positioning around this topic with their target audience, as well as the broader Sibos delegation, while also creating a welcoming and informal space for delegates to visit.

It was identified that five meeting rooms would once again be required due to the busy meeting schedule but for 2019 they would have to be increased in capacity to seat 10 rather than 8. Only half of the stand was allowed to be enclosed which directly influenced the overall space possible for meeting rooms.  

The team wanted the meeting rooms to feel premium once inside, therefore all details were considered with the interior styling being treated as more of a standalone brief, compared to previous years, to ensure this wasn’t an afterthought and was linked closely to the look and feel of the rest of the stand. 

The HSBC team working on Sibos was a hybrid including Marketing Event specialists who were responsible for the stand design and experience, Marketing Strategy who liaised with the business and ensured they secured key speaking slots and maximised the profile of HSBC during this sponsorship activation, an operational Event teams who were responsible for the meeting scheduling on the stand and any external client events, plus a working group comprising of key members of the business.

HSBC partnered with 2LK Design, who they have previously worked with on sponsored conferences, to create the exhibitor stand. Working closely with 2LK allowed them to navigate a path to success with a premium, engaging stand design that was considered in all areas and provided balance across all requirements. Long-standing knowledge around the event and its regulations, construction methods and materials use, and understanding HSBC’s requirements meant that 2LK could design a stand that looked stunning, provided all the right balanced space for meetings and functional space, and had clear sustainability credentials throughout. 

The Results
All activities were supported by a pre-event email issued to around 4000 Sibos delegates to raise awareness of their speakers at the event and drive traffic to the stand. A LinkedIn strategy was developed to share speaker interviews, helping to amplify the bank’s presence at the conference. 

The HSBC stand at Sibos was 16x12m which was the largest possible stand space at the event. The stand featured one of the largest ‘living walls’ created completely from living plants, which was a main feature of the stand. Delegates were welcomed by the operational events team and taken to meeting spaces or reserved booths in a timely manner. They could take advantage of their fair-trade coffee station, meet HSBC colleagues, charge their phones, or simply relax in the informal seating area. 

The greatest achievement of the event was the facilitation of 501 business meetings on the stand across four days, a triumph of optimised meeting room configuration and effective scheduling, aligning with their primary objective of having quality face time with key clients and prospects. This was an uplift of 18% versus previous years. Globally, 97 media pieces were generated including four interviews on Sibos TV, viewed over 1800 times collectively. Speaking opportunities increased by 25% versus 2018, raising brand awareness. 

The stand’s environmental impact was also reduced as they prioritised more organised waste with bespoke bins on the stand that helped people to separate out various waste, along with drastically reducing plastics usage as no plastic water bottles were used and coffee cup lids were kept to an absolute minimum. 

The stand managed to achieve a hybrid of communicating about sustainable finance and the global sustainable initiatives that HSBC are involved in, as well as the stand itself having a sustainable initiative, with this being communicated to delegates and visitors to the stand. 

‘Did You Know’ statements were incorporated around the stand and acted as informative call-outs relating to the materials used on the stand as well as HSBC’s broader sustainability initiatives. Sustainability, despite best efforts, can easily be contradictory so these statements helped to add credibility to the sustainable aims of the stand as a single entity as much as the efforts of HSBC as a global brand. 

The meetings (plus other client engagements) generated new deals along with adding to existing deals discussed. The stand attracted a staggering 6520 delegates during the event, driving awareness of the HSBC brand and sustainable initiatives funded by the organisation. 

Judges Comments
It was a struggle to choose between HSBC’s entry for their “Sponsorship within SIBOS” and Barclays support of the “Super Hero Triathlon”.  The judges battled with the notion of ‘what sponsorship means to us individually’: to support the virtues of a charitable/community cause, or have commerciality as a prime objective?  

After much deliberation it was decided to base any decision purely on how the aims for each activation were met. HSBC set three clearly defined objectives for their sponsorship of SIBOS 2019 which had grown from, and were defined by the learnings from previous years of attendance, one of which was a pledge to showcasing their commitment to sustainability.

The entry was well-written and considered. The judges commented that it was easy to understand the impact, quality and excellence of the activation plus how the sponsorship had benefited the business and the objectives were achieved. From the design of the stand to capitalising on speaking opportunities and the supporting ‘reach’ campaign, HSBC’s team embraced the banks chosen theme of financing sustainability and focused on an inspiring customer experience all of which combined to attract extensive media coverage and promote the HSBC brand.