The “ATA Summer Rager” – A Case Study On Improving Internal Engagement For Company Parties

Big T Audio, Company Culture, Events 2 Comments

I’m a big believer in making every party count for several reasons because:

  1. Dude, it’s a party.
  2. People will be taking pictures, so it better look good on social media as we can’t control what people put on Instagram.
  3. It’s a good chance for teams in your company to mingle with other groups that normally don’t mingle.
  4. Good parties will make for great memories and inside jokes among your employees.

A Thinking Ape had a party every summer. In 2016 I opted to bring the entertainment portion of the event up a notch with something related to video games. Since I was a Championship DJ in my past and the Music & Audio Director at the time, I brainstormed my strengths. I was going to remix tracks and DJ our summer party dropping ONLY “video game remix” bangers. Video Game music remixed with floor fillers?!?! How awesome is that! Just put that in the email! That should be enough to get engagement up won’t it?

Nope. Not exactly.

I talked to quite a few employees on the Wednesday before the “ATA Summer Party 2016” (it’s in quotes because that’s what they called it… THEMES people. THEMES.), and I asked people: “Are you excited about the party this Friday?”. The common responses were:

  • “I don’t know. We’ll see.” (Even though I didn’t ask the question “Are you coming to the party?”)
  • “Yeah sure!”
  • “It’s this Friday? I thought it was next week?”

The party was two days away and there wasn’t much “buzz” about the event. Even the video game remixes weren’t enough. To fix this, I decided to use my audio production skills to make an ad that sounded like an “expensive radio spot” and give them a taste of what they were going to hear on the dance floor.

I wrote a script and asked one of the girls on the people team to do the voice over. Bethany Phillips was the “voice of choice” because I liked the way she laughed. I made her crack up all the time at work, so I was lucky enough to hear her cackle. Little did I know, she’s done this type of stuff before so she walked in, read the page top to bottom, took direction from me quite well, and did a mic drop. Well, not really since it was a studio condenser microphone that was several hundred dollars. Plus it was on a mic stand so her hands weren’t touching it. ANYWAY, she absolutely killed at the performance. I edited music, added some effects and here’s the final product:

From concept to completion, this took less than an hour. As soon as it was sent out internally, people in our general company chat on slack went crazy for it. They were quoting lines from the ad and the most popular emojis were the “bee” and “money bag” emojis.

  • Example
  • Example
  • Example

Employee engagement went through the roof and buzz for the party was strong. Bethany was “Queen Bee” for the day. In fact, she was no longer Beth, she was B Money. It stuck with her the whole time she worked at ATA.

To make the nickname stick even further, some of the artists also got in on the action. Paul Gill was one of the most talented cartoonists in our office. He designed a super cute avatar for Beth and Tiffany Tang turned them into buttons. They handed them out to everyone at the party and it was a hit.


Something interesting showed up in the play data for the ad. At the time, there were about sixty people working at the company. There were quite a few plays through soundcloud. I’m not an expert at the way soundcloud counts it’s plays. But during testing, when I personally refreshed my browser and hit play multiple times, the count didn’t go up. I noticed that the count did go up when I tried playing it on a new device. Unless people are wiping their hard drives, reinstalling the operating system and pressing play, this number is astonishing for an internal company party ad:


Something even more interesting happened with the ad. Take a look at the second and ninth most played cities. Twelve plays in Edmonton? Taipei? This means that the employees were sharing this with friends and family… around the world! The ad turned out to be a success.

What I learned from this was that I couldn’t just assume that everyone knew what a video game remix sounded like. You need to get a taste for it. When I talk to other musicians and djs, we can go on describing genres until the cows come home. My audience was not a group of musicians or djs. They weren’t club goers. Hell, they weren’t even going to the pub once and a while. As a DJ, you must read your crowd to get an idea of how to plan out your “musical journey” on the spot. Working at the company, you have the advantage of knowing your audience ahead of time. Going beyond the typical skill set will reap rewards in employee engagement. The next matter to attend to is….

Your party better live up to the hype.

Comments 2

  1. That party went from 0-100! There’s no question, you know how to build hype and excitement…as well as an amazing party 😉

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