There’s tailgating, and then there’s tailgating.
Meet MAXimus. He’s a 70-foot tractor-trailer outfitted with an elaborate kitchen, self-leveling stage, three giant screens, and multiple high-definition cameras. All this combines to create the ultimate go-anywhere culinary experience.
MAX (short for “mobile activation x-perience”) drew huge crowds at several culinary festivals, and it even became a favored playground for the likes of Food Network host Jeff Mauro. Chef Gordon Ramsay saw MAX as the perfect sidekick for his show 24 Hours to Hell and Back, which debuts this summer on Fox, the popular US network TV channel.
To the experiential marketing firm that created MAX, he means even more than that; he’s the future. The U.S.-based Innovative Group (IG) developed the colossal cooking rig as part of its effort to push the envelope and to develop new revenue streams.
With offices in Miami, Florida, United States, the company specializes in providing immersive marketing experiences, and they have close to two decades of experience doing so. The team developed a virtual reality program for both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure at Disney Land, and they helped American Express engage audiences in Las Vegas by hiring a local illusionist to use its credit card in a physics-defying display. Its solutions have appeared everywhere from Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas, United States, to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game last year in Miami.
“We create experiences by specializing in submersive, experiential marketing programs. These fuel and even change perceptions about a brand—all while fostering lasting relationships at every opportunity,” says Camie Dunbar, the agency’s director of marketing/experiences. “Couple that with a passion for bringing communities together in distinctively customized and uniquely engaging ways, and you’ve got a recipe for the fantastical.”
The company, now with 87 employees, prizes outside-the-box thinking as part of its DNA. Its management team, however, wanted to take this a step further and encouraged employees to create an entirely new offering capable of shaking up the industry.
The result was three unique mobile assets the company can rent out to marketers for events and even TV programs. In addition to MAX, the team dreamed up DRAFT (the “dynamic restaurant aboard fire truck”). This features two huge Southern Pride smokers, a flattop grill, and 12 beer taps.
Rounding out the fleet is GameDay Traditions (GDT), a hospitality platform that gives event and festival guests the VIP treatment with its homey atmosphere and luxurious amenities.
“Rather than rely on traditional means of advertising and marketing, companies are always looking for the next way to create memorable experiences,” Dunbar says. “For this reason, we are always looking for ways to help our clients stand out in a sea of competitors, and that is why we created our very own exclusive assets.”
The bold investment proved to be a huge success. IG evolved from a service-only agency to a company with $2 million in rentable assets—a category that continues to grow. It also helped the company, founded in 2000, earn a Gold StevieⓇ Award for Business Development Achievement of the Year in the 2018 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.
Dunbar says the IG staff members discovered the Stevies while Googling prestigious award opportunities where they could submit the game-changing program. Dunbar sees the company leveraging this new accolade as a powerful marketing tool.
“It means we can let our current and future clients know what separates us from the other boutique agencies out there,” Dunbar says. “We are the proud recipient of a Gold Stevie Award, and that's what makes us different.”