The 1960s roar back to life thanks to a convention center and blog.
Elaine Cali, communications vice president for the Anaheim/Orange County VCB
Sarah Auerswald, co-founder of MomsLA
Shari Theresia, account coordinator for Purry Communications Group EVENT:
OC Blogger Bash
Oct. 11, 2011
Maybe everything old is new again. With televisions shows Mad Men and, more recently, Pan-Am paying tribute to the early 1960s, the Anaheim/Orange County VCB, and MomsLA took advantage of a trip down memory lane.
The VCB wanted to mark its 50th anniversary in grand fashion with the first-ever OC Blogger Bash. Enlisting help from Purry Communications Group, the VCB transformed what could have been a simple celebration into a three-fold extravaganza: commemorating 50 years of service, unveiling plans for a new grand plaza and reintroducing the SoCal blog world to Anaheim.
“It was the brainchild of Purry,” said Elaine Cali, communications vice president for the VCB. “The event was really to gather the blogger community together and get them to know Orange County and Anaheim better. They thought this would be a fun way to have our coming-out party, if you will, to introduce ourselves to this new medium.”
Invitations went out to more than 150 Southern California bloggers, many of whom donned their best early ‘60s attire. Women wore day dresses with white leather gloves and matching pearls; Men donned black-tie suits with matching fedoras. The flashbacks didn’t stop there, as a live band played era classics and “movie-goers” drank handspun milkshakes at a mock drive-in complete with two ‘60s automobiles.
“Daily Hot Guys” handed out candy cigarettes and iconic treats (in lieu of cigarette girls). Aramark food services provided retro cuisine with modern twists such as mini beef wellington, deviled quail eggs and pineapple upside-down cake. Bartenders served up signature Orange Martini cocktails.
Planning began nearly five months in advance of the Bash when the VCB and MomsLA first starting talking.
There were a lot of moving parts including a pageant. During the planning, a MomsLA blogger suggested using local vintage designer Queen of Heartz to help put together stunning ‘60s-style outfits for the models as they descended two-story escalator runways à la Coco Chanel or Pan-Am.
Organizers even pulled some bloggers from the audience to participate and give the event a more interactive feel.
To generate buzz, a few bloggers from MomsLA decided that a presence was needed in early August at the BlogHer Convention in San Diego.
“The bureau had a reception at BlogHer that would attract a core group of people who could then talk about the Bash before it happened,” said Sarah Auerswald, one of three co-founders of MomsLA. “There were a lot of preparations in July getting ready for BlogHer, which meant that it was sort of a platform for getting ready for the actual Bash.”
Attendance paid off. McDonald’s approached the VCB and asked to be a part of its event, even though it wasn’t part of the original outreach for finding partners to participate in the giveaways.
The main hiccup was choosing invitees. With the large number of bloggers in the SoCal market, it was a challenge to make sure “the best of the best” were in attendance, according to Shari Theresia, account coordinator for Purry.
“We vetted all these bloggers. These were people that were selected to come,” Theresia said. “We searched through hundreds and hundreds of blogs.”
But despite the challenges, the final product seemed flawless, Auerswald said.
“If the bureau had any challenges putting on this event, it did not show. It was fabulous,” she said. “It seemed to us, from the outside, that it was seamless.”
Of course, with any themed event, it’s all or nothing, and the VCB made sure to go all out. It shared responsibility with MomsLA to spread the word about the OC Blogger Bash.
And, as party favors, attendees received retro tin lunch boxes with a vintage postcard look on each side that displayed Anaheim/Orange County on front and read “have a swell time” on the back.
Attendees could also win more than US$60,000 worth of prizes that helped showcase the Orange County area, such as spa treatments, vacation getaways, chef table dinners and other creative activities and experiences.
Word of mouth spread quickly to other bloggers in the SoCal area. Email and phone requests came in from individuals who did not receive an invitation to this year’s event, asking to be invited for next year.
“The question we got right away was, ‘So, are you going to do it again next year?’” Cali said. “If everybody asks you that immediately after, and they’re so excited to have the next one, then you know you did something right and want to build on it.”
And so, the VCB is exploring the possibility of making the OG Blogger Bash as close to annual as possible.
After the event, Joanne Kennedy, author of My Little Cottage in the Making on Blogspot, wrote on the Facebook page, “You guys did a smashing job! Everything was lovely. The music, the fashion show, the prizes, the food, the décor and so much fun! I had a blast and it was so much better than I ever dreamed of.” One+
One+ November 2011,