Inspiration Station Vol 9: The Best of Live Experiences in 2021

It’s Sure Been Another Eventful Year.


Brands have moved on from their hesitancy amidst lockdowns and strict social distancing, to operating with confidence and pulling off some pretty impressive live experiences.

While we’re still in the early stages of “re-emergence” and there’s a fair amount of uncertainty surrounding what 2022 may look like, we’re seeing the beginnings of a new live event landscape. One that’s powered by advanced tech, new mindsets, and more inclusive practices.

In this final edition of the year, the Inspiration Station Vol. 9 takes a look at some of the best examples of what we believe will be the permanent fixtures for brands seeking to connect and engage with audiences.

Let’s take look at the return of live experiences.


In-person experiences are back and many would argue, perhaps more effective than pre-pandemic. By utilizing a combination of hybrid elements and new technologies, in-person events now have a whole new host of benefits and opportunities. From reaching wider audiences and increased inclusivity to providing fresh ways for attendees to engage and interact.

Let’s take a look at some of the best in-person brand experiences of 2021…

MWC Los Angeles

After a difficult 2020, Mobile World Congress finally went ahead this year to explore the technology that will shape how we connect with one another in the future.

The in-person event partnered with Mobile World Live who provided exclusive coverage, elevating the in-person event through online channels to increase reach and visibility with digital audiences. Watch the highlights of day two to see the power of face-to-face interaction at a covid safe, large-scale event.

Find out more.

Solana Breakpoint

Blockchain platform Solana’s community came together in Lisbon earlier in November to celebrate their success and hear the latest company updates. The in-person event was their first-ever conference and a simple but effective example of how a sleekly branded physical set can be all you need to update both online and offline audiences – the event looked pretty slick no matter where you were watching.

Watch the full video.
Learn more here.

One Young World

The 11th Annual One Young World (OYW) 2021 Summit brought together over 1,800 young leaders from 190+ countries, both in person and digitally, to create a better world through more responsible and effective leadership collaboration.

Despite the travel and covid uncertainty – as you can see from the video, when strict safety protocols are followed, it doesn’t matter how big or small the event is: covid-safe in-person experiences that harness hybrid techniques are extremely impactful and more sustainable live event model.

Learn more.


Ok, so we’ve all been bombarded with a slew of virtual and hybrid events in 2021. However, by bringing the excitement into audiences’ homes and offering much more flexibility, not to mention a new dimension in creative engagement, some experiences have generated a lot more buzz than their in-person counterparts.

The following examples are the gold standard in engaging audiences using virtual technology. Check out some of these big-budget masterclasses in action!

Apple Mac Launch

When life gives you lemons, Apple makes lemonade.

Amidst pandemic uncertainty, CEO Tim Cook, took to the stage four times in 2021 to roll out the company’s latest product innovations in front of a virtual audience. Streamed to 6 million+ viewers, the recent Mac launch was the final of the year.

Apple is always ahead of the technology curve, and their events are no exception. Generating a huge amount of excitement, their production value sets them apart from pretty much everyone in the virtual space. They also provide more accessible choices, offering translators, sign language, or captioning.

<- Check out the video for a unique hybrid event experience that’s surely here to stay for the brand…

Find out more here.

TikTok World 2021

Content powerhouse TikTok went live with TikTok World in September – their first global experience designed to help brands and marketers embrace the TikTok For Business experience to reimagine how they connect with their communities. Unveiling new creative, branding, and commerce solutions to help brands of all sizes drive real impact for their business, the virtual event was as engaging and informative as you would expect from a brand whose mission is “redefining entertainment”. Just take a look at the highlights from TikTok World.

See more.

Spotify Stream On

During Stream On, Spotify explored the power of audio, the journey of creation, and the opportunities ahead for millions of creators and billions of fans around the world. Audiences heard from a number of speakers, from global artists to Spotifiers and world-renowned storytellers.

Announcements included A New Era for Podcast Advertising and Spotify’s Key Updates for Creators… and of course who could forget President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen Join Forces in the New Podcast ‘Renegades: Born in the USA’!

Find out more.


There’s been a lot of talk of tech “novelties” over the past year, but it’s becoming pretty apparent that the following examples aren’t going away anytime soon. Each of these innovations is captivating audiences in ways that other mediums cannot, propelling the way we engage and interact, forwards into a new future.



From Facebook Horizon to Microsoft Mesh and pretty much every virtual platform or digital experience we’ve discussed over the last couple of years, avatars are now advancing at a rapid rate.

Once a novelty for the gaming community, they’re now in the mainstream and will continue to proliferate as a fresh way to captivate audiences. When the “metaverse” achieves its full potential, your digital form will likely be just as important as your physical one!

Check out a great example involving live-action motion capture, deep fakes, and more ->

VR for Enterprise

Despite those who still think that VR may be a passing fad, Oculus and the ever-growing consumer VR market indicate otherwise. In the world of business, another contender has emerged: Magic Leap. Like many around the globe, the company had a tough 2020, laying off about half of its employees, losing its CEO & cofounder, and looking to sell.

Now, the AR startup has turned things around by moving away from consumer headsets and focusing on enterprise clientele. As a result, the company recently announced $500 million in funding, putting it at a “post-money valuation of roughly $2 billion,”. Stay tuned for Magic Leap 2 due for release in 2022.

Augmented Environments

The Unreal Engine has dominated the experience market in 2020/21. Like much of the tech that’s coming through in the rapidly advancing digital/virtual realm, its origins also began in the gaming world. Now it’s being used for everything from Mixed Reality/XR virtual conferences and company updates to Hollywood blockbusters. Take 10 minutes or flick through the video above for a quick overview of its potential.

Learn more about the Unreal Engine

Even Boiler Room, the iconic independent music platform that’s known for its raw live-streamed performances, is now experimenting with augmenting realities. The brand continues to understand what is needed in order to bring underground club culture to its audiences in the most engaging format possible.

Discover Boiler Room TV


There are a couple of further formats that we wanted to highlight before we bid you farewell for 2021… Though they aren’t new or emerging, their true value is being understood in the context of the present-day alongside some pretty heavy-hitting tech.

QR Codes
QR codes have returned to help brands deliver touchless engagement. In addition to facilitating interactions and neatly concealing hidden content, QR codes can provide detailed tracking capabilities for brands seeking enhanced analytics of their experiences. Check out this collaboration from Sephora and Kohl’s or this QR code in the Sky.

A new study by Spotify shows the surprising effectiveness of digital audio on the human brain, generating more engagement and emotional stimulation than other forms of media – making the format more likely to activate long-term memory than radio, TV, social media, or digital video. To further increase engagement, Spotify is now making podcasts even more interactive, tapping into people’s desire to be part of online communities and allowing creators to get more in-depth insights into their audience. Find out more here.

Novelty & Exploration
A 2020 study has shown the psychological reasons why novelty – from visiting new places to socializing – makes us happier and healthier people. Study co-author Dr. Aaron Heller stated, “Novel stimuli tend to activate regions of our brain that are associated with rewards.” This has even more benefits for brands looking to connect with their audiences as “Novel things also capture our attention … you’re more likely to notice things and be present,” continues Dr. Laurie Santos, a cognitive scientist. Check out this immersive sustainability experience for the perfect example of this in action – experiential is coming back and better than ever!

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