Putting on outstanding events in 2023

Putting on outstanding events in 2023: The Cool Blue guide

Events can be a powerful marketing tool. They can help you capture attention, build brand awareness, gather data, and attract new customers or clients.

Events can be a powerful marketing tool

DigitalCity: Celebrating the Tees Valley digital cluster

Over the last twenty years, Teesside University’s DigitalCity team have been at the forefront of the Tees Valley’s flourishing digital sector. To mark DigitalCity’s twentieth anniversary and recognise the huge successes of the Tees Valley digital cluster, we were tasked with launching a publication that detailed this success, bringing together DigitalCity’s story with those of the businesses it has supported over the years.

To launch this publication, DigitalCity also asked us to create a celebration event. This event was intended not only to introduce the Tees Valley digital community to the new publication, but also to recognise the achievements of this community over the last two decades.

Our first step was the find the right venue; it had to be in Teesside, provide a real ‘wow’ factor, yet be relaxed enough for attendees to enjoy an informal and celebratory evening. We shortlisted a number of local venues, eventually working with the client to select the stunning Wynyard Hall.


Creating the right atmosphere

From the digital invitations, street food and mocktails to branded room dressing, we designed the whole event to reflect a celebratory feel, inviting businesses and individuals from across the digital community to come together and get their own copy of the publication.

Having interviewed several business leaders in the Tees Valley digital and creative community for the publication, we had brilliant speakers at our fingertips. We reached out to a selection of those business leaders to take part in a speaker panel, ensuring they reflected the diversity of the Tees Valley digital cluster, sharing ‘conversation starter’ questions for the panel, and briefing them to emphasise as much of their unique stories and experiences as possible in their answers.

Feedback on the event was overwhelmingly positive, from both the client and event attendees. Nearly 100 attendees joined us on the night, meeting the client’s objectives and providing a list of those likely to engage with future events.

Design your event wisely

Key to the success of this event was the design – ensuring it reflected the Tees Valley digital community, reflecting the celebratory feel of the entire campaign, and booking speakers who were from that community themselves. An evening to celebrate the achievements of the community and to hear from others on how they’ve navigated their business journeys – this was the key to the success of DigitalCity event.

DigitalCity: Celebrating the Tees Valley digital cluster
Creating the right atmosphere

John Lewis x The City Baths: Bringing a new brand partnership to life

We’ve been working with The City Baths for several years now, supporting the £7.5m restoration and reopening of this historic, city-centre leisure destination. The next step for The City Baths was to widen their regional network and connect with local partners, groups and influencers, to drive footfall to the fitness centre. We therefore reached out to John Lewis Newcastle to develop a unique opportunity to offer the people of Tyneside a leisure-meets-retail, health, fitness and wellbeing-focused event.

As one of the most exciting events to have taken place in The City Baths since its reopening in 2020, we called in the support of Cool Blue’s inhouse creative team to develop a bright and eye-catching identity for the event collateral. We developed a whole host of assets required to promote the event across a number of online and offline channels, including social media assets, Eventbrite branding, posters and online ads.

We also developed a range of promotional leaflets, event signage, event itinerary boards, free tote bags (with goodies from both John Lewis brands and The City Baths) as well as incentive vouchers for promotional offers and packages on the evening.


Delivering a new brand experience

The collaboration with John Lewis also gave us a ‘hook’ with media, and a chance for them to experience both brands differently, and in their entirety. These kinds of brand partnerships enable interesting conversations, new networks to be created and perceptions to be enhanced.

As well as drafting a press release which we distributed to key local media, such as The Chronicle, Portfolio North and Living North, we joined forces with business improvement district organisation NE1 to promote the event. We also used The City Baths database (of which there are 800 members and 6,000 prospective members) to communicate with and to send regular email correspondence about the event.

Finally, we utilised a paid social media campaign to entice new customers to the event. We developed a dedicated strand of social media content, using aspirational imagery, including branded imagery from both The City Baths and John Lewis, to give a glimpse of what the event would offer. We accompanied this content with a series of short teaser videos, designed to encourage clicks and to drive people to The City Baths website to find out more.

The event was a huge success, with capacity increased to accommodate demand for tickets. Coverage was achieved in key local titles, including ChronicleLive, NE1, Portfolio North and Bdaily. We also increased The City Baths’ social media following by 300 followers within a 10-day period, securing a social media reach of nearly 50,000.

Get in front of new audiences

Our message from this event experience is this: plan well, choose your suppliers wisely and make a splash with your event branding. By reaching out to such an iconic and beloved brand, we were able to tap into a huge additional audience. Coupled with eye-catching design, utilised across online and offline channels but with an emphasis on social media, we were able to reach those who may not have otherwise heard of The City Baths, setting them on the path to becoming potential customers.


Barker and Stonehouse: Unveiling the new £5m store in Gateshead

Barker and Stonehouse, a long-standing client and iconic North East furniture company, opened its 12th store on Good Friday (April 7th 2023).

The store was designed with sustainability in mind, and features a number of unique sustainable elements, such as timber structures and a solar panelled roof. The new store, located next to the popular Metrocentre shopping mall, took two years to build and is stocked with an extensive range of furniture from leading brands and designers. The store also features a specially designed oak and glass hot-desk bar and lounge area, where customers can relax, meet friends, or work.


The start of a new chapter

The Gateshead store opening marked the beginning of a new chapter in Barker and Stonehouse’s 77-year history. The company already had a strong following in the area, but we were tasked with driving even more foot traffic to the store during the Bank Holiday weekend.

We achieved this by hosting a series of VIP customer events for existing customers in North and South Tyneside. We also ran a variety of marketing campaigns in the run-up to the opening, including coverage in local lifestyle magazines, a press and influencer lunch in the Chadwick & Co. café, and engagement with interiors-focused regional influencers.

The showstopper

Planning and managing a store opening event is no easy task, but with the support of Joanna Lumley, the event was a huge success.

The day started with a private viewing of the store for Joanna Lumley and James Barker, Managing Director of Barker and Stonehouse. The Barker family was proud to share their many years of furniture knowledge with Joanna, who is a well-known fan of ercol and Ligne Roset.

After the private viewing, Joanna Lumley met and greeted customers in the store. She also cut the ribbon to officially open the store, which was a great moment for the Barker family and for the thriving furniture retailer.

The event was rounded off with a Q&A with Joanna Lumley, led by ITV Tyne Tees news and TV presenter Pam Royle. Joanna was happy to answer questions about her career and her love of furniture. She also signed copies of her book for fans.

It was a wonderful day for all involved, and a great way to celebrate the opening of Barker and Stonehouse’s new store in Gateshead.


The store opening event was a huge success, with sales soaring in the first 7 days of opening. We sold out on tickets one week prior to the event, and we had 34 pieces of regional coverage in the run-up to, during, and after the event. We also engaged with local influencers, who helped us reach just under 1 million people on social media over a 4-week period.

Our efforts paid off, and we welcomed over 10,000 customers to the store over the weekend. The store is now one of the company’s most popular destinations.



We hope you have enjoyed reading about our recent events. To round-up, here are some top tips for planning successful events:

  • Be organised and efficient. The more organised you are, the less likely you are to make mistakes.
  • Be flexible. Things don’t always go according to plan, so be prepared to make changes as needed.
  • Be creative. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and come up with unique event ideas.
  • Be professional. Make sure your event is well-run and that your guests have a positive experience.

Like what you see?

Selected Works

The North East Ambulance Service:Make a Life-Saving Difference.

Harrogate Spring WaterMindful Drinking takes centre stage at Festive Influencer event.

Barker and Stonehouse: Gateshead Store LaunchUnveiling the new £5m store in Gateshead.

Harrogate Spring Water - Mindful DrinkingBringing a taste of Royal Ascot to North Yorkshire.

The City Baths Newcastle X John LewisBringing a brand partnership to this historic leisure destination.

Barker and Stonehouse: A Story of SustainabilityA sustainable approach to furniture retail.

Grainger MarketEnhancing Newcastle’s Bustling Grade I Traders Market.

Anglo American:Powering cyber security.

Teesside UniversityCelebrating the Tees Valley digital community.

ProtiumStakeholder communications and engagement strategy.

Banks HomesCreating a unique brand identity for the new-to-market luxury housebuilder.

North P&I:160 years of incredible maritime history.

Middlesbrough College:Finding brand purpose for a dynamic educator.

Sleepeezee:Everything's easy when you Sleepeezee.

North East England Chamber of CommerceGiving businesses their say in skills provision.

Ercol:A moment of pride in ercol’s history.

Newcastle Helix:Our City’s Drive Towards Net Zero.

Story Homes:A new chapter for this thriving residential developer.

Stephenson WorksA welcoming and generous spirit.

NewcastleGateshead Quays:A quay moment for NewcastleGateshead.

TeesAMP:Making it in Middlesbrough.

NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau:Tyne to get back to business.

Tees Valley Combined Authority:Encouraging staycations in Tees Valley.

Siglion:Bringing some vitamin sea to Seaburn.

North East Ambulance Service:A global pandemic.

Thirteen Homes:How do you want to live?

herdysleep:A first of its kind for the bed-in-a-box market.

Libra Interiors:Connecting consumers in a new way.

Tees Valley Combined Authority:Tees Valley Mayoral Election Campaign.

Animex:A virtual event bringing the brightest of minds together.

Imagine. Create. EGGER:Launch of a new product range for this global manufacturer

Finchale Group:A dynamic rebrand for the leading employment charity.

Duresta:A brave and bohemian collaboration.

South Tyneside Council:Recognising local community heroes.

Fusion:Healthy in the Heart of the City.

UK Land EstatesBuildings for Business.

Merit HoldingsA world leading engineering company.

Harrogate Spring Water:Continuing to make a difference.

Barker and Stonehouse:Say hello to Mr Clarke.


Cool Blue is a full-service agency that drives brands forwards. Our ideas and innovations are always conducted with purpose. Delivering solutions that combat specific challenges and provide results. Our strategic expertise offer a valuable service to every one of our clients, helping them achieve their goals.


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