Uno Loco on fostering human connection

In a world altered by the pandemic, brand experience agency Uno Loco has embraced the winds of change, revitalised and steering its course towards a future where human-to-human connection reigns supreme.

As the pandemic-induced lockdowns upended the world, the concept of connection became top of mind, with people craving authentic human interaction more than ever before.

While the demand for virtual experiences provided a temporary reprieve, Uno Loco recognised that this hunger for genuine human-to-human connection would persist long after the initial post-lockdown boom had faded, and took this moment to reimagine how they could best be of service, looking at their agency’s purpose, realigning its brand experience strategy, and emerging armed with a re-energised identity for the new reality and as “an antidote to AI”.

“We were conscious of the fact our business had evolved a lot and we hadn’t gone out and told that story,” says Blair Glubb, Uno Loco CEO. “There is a shift taking place, with more investment being directed towards real live human experiences,” he adds. “We know that because we have been very busy.”

Beginning as Madant in 1996 and transforming into Uno Loco in 2015 (Latin for connecting with extreme enthusiasm), the agency has always been at the forefront of bringing humans together through brand experiences and business events.

Today, Uno Loco is the largest producer of brand experiences and business events in Aotearoa, with an impressive roster of blue-chip corporate and government clients and 30 talented team members.

When the pandemic hit, the business was presented with an “adapt or die” moment. To survive this, the agency leveraged its digital and innovation expertise and broadcast capabilities, directed by Experience Innovation Director, Jared Ward, which led to achievements such as the production of APEC 2021 and APEC CEO Summit, which brought the world to New Zealand despite border closures.

Building on this success, Uno Loco is now focused on expanding and deepening its brand experience offerings, across all platforms from in person to virtual immersive worlds, all through a lens of sustainability, staying ahead of the curve in a rapidly evolving landscape.

The agency has been behind projects such as the One NZ rebrand, which celebrates a shift from global to local, as well as the ‘Green is Good’ experience for Countdown, delivered through live, virtual, and hybrid formats.

At the heart of what Uno Loco delivers, is the belief that every brand and human interaction should be an opportunity for meaningful connection. Gone are the days of superficial encounters; in their place, Uno Loco offers a platform where brands and customers can engage authentically, building a foundation of trust, loyalty, and shared values.

Newly appointed GM and principal strategist, Tor White, says the team bring a level of expertise, experience, and passion for creating these moments of connection. 

“We’ve shifted from ‘delivering the most awesome events’, to helping businesses shape intentional experiences for their people and customers. We look at these moments strategically, as part of their entire brand experience ecosystem. Nothing is a stand-alone, and we ‘read the room’ – culturally, socially, environmentally – and
craft accordingly.

“And we know we are only as good as our last gig! So we need to be extraordinary every time. We can see people laugh or cry and get excited – it’s all about feelings. We get immediate feedback, and incredible insights.” 

A big part of this work is evaluating global platforms and delivering compelling virtual experiences that generate authentic connections, with a focus on solving business problems. 

Ultimately the goal is to bring “magic” to whatever space the team are working with, and knowing what is possible within the realm of the technology being used, whether it’s an in-person event, virtual or hybrid.

On building up the team over the years, Glubb says this type of work attracts people who are “naturally attracted to creative industries, they are here because they want to be part of an active team, creating something real, something for people”.

The events industry holds significant potential for growth and impact and the numbers reflect this. In 2019, the global events industry reached a staggering size of $1.1354 trillion, with corporate events accounting for 27.7 percent of this figure. Looking to the future, the industry is projected to experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.2 percent from 2021 to 2028, highlighting the continued demand for events.

Hula, one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing design agencies, and Uno Loco’s sister brand, also plays an important role in propelling the agency’s growth further by delivering brand strategy, design, and content that complements Uno Loco’s expertise.

“We focus on Return on Experience rather than ROI,” says Glubb. “We are shaping people’s emotions through what we create. Pathos and storytelling is so important.”

Harnessing this passion for crafting meaningful connections, Uno Loco is well-positioned to drive innovation in the realm of human-to-human connections in an increasingly fragmented world. 

This article was originally published in the June/July 2023 issue of NZ MarketingClick here to subscribe.

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About Bernadette Basagre

Bernadette is a content writer across SCG Business titles, The Register and Idealog. To get in touch with her, email [email protected].

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