Did you know that magic and illusion can be much more than ‘just’ entertainment for your event?

The arts of magic, illusion, mentalism, comedy, theatre and drama are frequently used by communications and marketing agencies who want to harness the ‘medium of performance’ to capture attention, create curiosity, and convey a message. As a highly specialised form of ‘industrial theatre’, a performance by a magician or mentalist who integrates a message into their presentation, can be used to far greater effect than simply being assigned as ‘the entertainment’ in a programme.

As an event planner or professional conference organiser, the opportunity to present your clients with a unique performance or presentation that meets their marketing objectives, as well as their guests’ desire for remarkable fun entertainment, doesn’t come along every day! Fortunately, magic or mentalism offers the perfect blend of direct communication, visual illusion, laughter, surprise and delight, together with the ability to cleverly integrate a message and personalise the performance, while still adapting to the event requirements.

(See “Expert Advice on booking Entertainment for your Company Function or Important Event“)

To ensure that the event objectives can be optimally achieved, the process of creating a purpose-driven magical performance should start early in the planning phase. In the examples below, the success of the final campaign or event was heavily dependent on the quality of the initial briefing process, the collaboration of a team of creatives and performers, a reasonable time-frame, and a feasible budget.

Product Launches & Rebranding Events

Now you see it, now you don’t!

What better way to make your audience aware of your new product, logo or brand than to make it appear or change right in front of their eyes? That is precisely the experience we created when we were approached by a national telecommunications company in Mozambique, who wanted our help to unveil their new logo at a gala event in Maputo in 2008. We began by engaging the VIP guests and high-ranking government ministers with interactive close-up magic and followed this with a stage show that culminated in the performance of a custom-created illusion that transformed the old logo into the new one, to a standing ovation.

Sometimes, we have to create something a little more ‘out of the box’.

In 2012 an international dairy products producer embarked on a national campaign for the launch of a new product that allowed consumers to eat yoghurt straight out of an innovative container without the need for a spoon. We were asked to consult on the national internal marketing campaign for the company’s sales force, which needed to include message-driven entertainment. Our creative solution? A mentalism performance that integrated the product message in several forms, including a demonstration of ‘metal bending’ which destroyed the cutlery – giving the performer ‘a reason’ to chose this cleverly packaged snack: even if your cutlery is all bent and ruined, you can still eat this yoghurt without a spoon! This particular ‘stunt’ was so successful we were then asked to perform it on a national breakfast TV show, to inform the public about this new product in an interesting and fun way.

Road Shows & Awareness Campaigns

Perhaps you need to convey an important message that you want the audience to remember long after the event? If that’s the case, then you need to shift your focus from content delivery, which is often boring and therefore forgettable, to dynamic, visual and fun presentations that accurately frame the message in a way that the presentation itself creates a mental ‘hook’, significantly increasing memorability.

Magic entertainment was a key component of this Scottish whiskey launch in South Africa

Magic entertainment was a key component of this Scottish whiskey launch in South Africa

“You Make The Magic!”

Sometimes our forward-thinking clients are already aware of the strategically valuable role magic can play in communicating their message, and then call on us to help them make it happen. In 2014 we were contacted by the South African marketing and service team of an international car manufacturer who had come up with the slogan “You make the Magic”. The message to staff was that their actions and leadership was vital to improving customer satisfaction and becoming the #1 brand in their category. Over several months and 80 roadshow performances for senior management, dealer principles, sales teams and even cleaning staff at dealerships throughout the country, this message was delivered using a magic performance that clearly and entertainingly conveyed how to create ‘magic moments’ for customers.

Yes, you can learn about ethics from a professional ‘trickster’!

In 2017, a national insurance company was planning its annual “Ethics Awareness Week” which would include 18 live presentations to different groups of consultants in 15 branches across South Africa. The organiser, who is well known for speaking dynamically at these events every year, was keenly aware that the topic of ‘ethics in the workplace’ is one that isn’t normally considered exciting. He approached Corporate Magician & Speaker Marcel Oudejans to create a fun and interactive magic performance that would explain the psychology of ethics using props, comedy and audience participation. The result was a presentation that started with a video animation detailing published research on human behaviour, followed by a 45min ‘laugh while you learn’ show that highlighted the important lessons. The campaign was so successful, with standing ovations and rave reviews from the audiences, that it ended up being extended to include even more groups.

Activations, Consumer Events & Expos

Some events, such as expos, require an entertaining performer who can interact with and captivate a moving crowd of prospective clients, who are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume and variety of exhibitors. This kind of specialised performance necessitates a short, interactive, expert demonstration of skill, an entertaining and attractive personality, and an ability to weave your message through the performance so that prospects remember your message and company above others. In order for this to be successful, you need a professional performer who knows enough about your company and message to be able to improvise and adapt the message into the performance.

Magic is an effective way to captivate an audience & convey a message, as shown here at Meetings Africa

Magic is an effective way to captivate an audience & convey a message, as shown here at Meetings Africa

Magicians and mentalists are frequently asked to prepare presentations like this for industry exhibition stands, in-store and shopping centre promotions, exclusive customer parties, and other consumer events; The earlier we are consulted during the planning process, the better the level of brand and message integration can be.

Conference & Meeting Keynote Talks

Magicians and mentalists worldwide have been asked to prepare keynote talks on a wide spectrum of content, from thought-leader subject motivation, creativity and psychology to important business skills such as sales, customer service and leadership. Just as no two speakers or trainers are alike, neither are magical entertainers. Each performer has their own approach to business and life, and some performers have a level of expertise and knowledge that make for thought-provoking and interesting talks at meetings and conferences.

A 'magical keynote' is a great way for delegates to 'laugh while they learn'!

A ‘magical keynote’ is a great way for delegates to ‘laugh while they learn’!

While your conference may deal with some ‘boring” topics, that doesn’t mean that your conference has to be boring! The ideal magical keynote speaker will be able to offer you a combination of relevant, valuable content with an entertaining presentational-style that keeps your audience ‘laughing while they learn’. Depending on your programme, a magical keynote talk could be; a great plenary session to get your delegates excited; a lively, but educational, ‘break’ in the middle of the day or directly after lunch to refresh people’s minds; or a really exciting close to the event. Either way, your delegates will appreciate that you planned for a fun experience that actually had the important purpose of delivering a message.

Another approach is to use a magical entertainer as your conference Master of Ceremonies. This role is somewhat different from an MC for a gala dinner or short event, as your delegates will look to the MC for information and instructions throughout the conference. The most frequently requested MC’s are not only proficient in the practicalities of the role, such as how to use a microphone and introduce speakers, but they also understand the ‘psychology of the room’. A magical MC will use a variety of performance skills and ‘tricks’ to inform, educate and entertain – often with a high degree of tailoring of material – to ensure that both delegates and organisers can relax, knowing that an expert is looking after everyone’s needs.

Creative Consulting

In addition to the more typical event requests described above, we have also had the pleasure of consulting on some events with more unusual requirements where magical entertainers have been able to provide advice, guidance, and creative solutions to our clients’ needs. Some of the more interesting examples are:

  • “Moments of Excellence” video:
    A large multi-national bank needed to reveal the names of more than 200 award winners’ during a series of gala dinners. Due to the time constraints, live performances would have been inappropriate; however, the client requested that the names be revealed ‘by magic’ using a pre-recorded video that would be broadcast on large screens at the various events. A team of magicians, filmmakers and creatives were given the task of selecting, designing, creating and recording over 200 magical effects that revealed the names of award winners, resulting in a video that amazed the audiences and delighted the client.
  • “Counterfeit toner” awareness campaign:
    Facing the problem of competing with low-quality counterfeit toner cartridges in East Africa, a recognised international print media producer wanted an informative and fun way for customers to learn and remember how to identify and avoid counterfeit products. Although the client had not initially considered a magical entertainer, the final presentation – a demonstration of mentalism – turned out to be an extremely successful way of getting the message across because it was so unexpected and unusual.
  • “Solve it” internal campaign:
    A national retailer planned a series of roadshows to introduce branch managers to the new banking offices that would be rolled out to their branches. As part of the event, they wanted an interactive workshop where the managers would be tested on their knowledge and skill. A team of magicians, designers and creatives developed an entirely new ‘game show’ approach, where teams competed for a prize by completing a series of puzzles and activities that required important product knowledge.

These examples I have shared really just provide a small glimpse into the kinds of interesting and important projects that magicians, mentalists and other magical entertainers have been asked to consult on in Africa. Worldwide, there is an increasing demand for the skills and creativity that magical entertainers and producers can provide when event planners, communications agencies and marketing services are looking for unusual and fun ways to get their message across.

So next time you are planning an event, don’t think of a magician, mentalist, or illusionist as just ‘another entertainer’, but contact us to discuss how you and your audience can benefit from this timeless, captivating and highly-customisable performance art form.