Delivering impact with cinematic keynotes: Rakuten’s success at Optimism

Rakuten banner
Rakuten banner with text "Imagine that future"

Project background

Rakuten serves over 10 million customers in 30 countries worldwide. Their annual partner conference, Rakuten Optimism, draws 80,000 customers, industry leaders, and other innovators. For their second conference in America, they wanted to expand the event experience, reaching new buyers and sellers while also inspiring confidence in their existing partner base. To do so, they needed keynote presentations that would dazzle both groups. Duarte worked directly with the event team to craft messages, design visuals, and prepare each speaker for the stage.



The big challenge

Own the event stage with a compelling, cinematic keynote presentation

Rakuten’s fast growth in America meant that their partner conference had to grow, in both size and impact. The company was heading in new directions, which required thoughtful messaging for their existing partner and user community. But they also needed to deliver an experience that would win over new partners.

Any large event is a high-stakes moment, but Rakuten Optimism had particularly high expectations. Their event team needed a partner who had experience writing and producing events in a “Silicon Valley tech event” style.

A sample of slides created

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Duarte’s impact on partnership, audience, and recognition

Working side-by-side with the event team and each speaker, Duarte delivered script development, visual style exploration, dynamic slides, crisp video animations, and targeted speaker coaching. The results cleared their high bar, with the event resulting in a number of key partnerships, a delighted audience, and at least one award nomination in a trade magazine.

Our process

Duarte’s creative teams worked directly with each executive at every step of the process, moving from high-level messaging and themes all the way through to the final script and cinematic visuals.

With extensive experience supporting executives at large events, our team built a timeline and process that would flex when needed while still holding the highest possible standard for visual design.

Our insights

The idea of leveraging “storytelling” in a technology keynote can feel risky to the CEO of a large company. The Duarte team won over Rakuten’s CEO with creative story concepts that showed him how a fun and interesting anecdote could engage and inspire his audience.

Our approach

The Duarte team spent a lot of face time with the client early on to build a strong, trusting partnership that would carry them through the event.

This relationship allowed for a high level of adaptability, like shifting the budget to accommodate unforeseen needs, like an opening countdown video and speaker introduction sequences.

With three individual speakers, it was especially important to keep them aligned throughout the development of their content. Our team worked with each speaker on an individual basis, but also as a unified team, which created strong consistency and a powerful message overall.

One of the speakers ultimately became the MC for the event, and our team worked with her to write and deliver fluid transitions that would provide a seamless experience for the audience.

Duarte also provided full on-site support at the event, handling last-minute revisions to both content and design, troubleshooting video assets so they would look great on a giant screen, providing speaker coaching for each speaker, and helping the Rakuten team organize and execute the production flow for the event.

The results

Rakuten closed several partnership deals

Not only did they close enough deals to more than pay for the event, they also expanded their brand story in America. Attendee feedback was overwhelmingly positive, but the highest (and most important) praise came in the form of new business. Finally, this event was a final part in the Rebrand and Brand Content Strategy for Rakuten Rewards’s multi-year campaign to change the face of eBates and expand the Rakuten family into the North American ecommerce market. We helped the president of Rakuten Rewards craft and deliver the final part of that story, which led to international accolades and 2 Drum Marketing Awards for her and the company.