volleyball_ljubljanica_extrem
Photo credit: www.extrem.si

When we asked Simon Rožnik to describe himself, he wrote back “born to make crazy events :-) :-).” And this description certainly is not far from the truth when knowing that his agency Extrem, which is specialized in experiential marketing campaigns, recently executed probably one of the craziest ideas of the year: a real volleyball match on the Ljubljanica River that runs through Slovenia’s capital. Yes, you read it right. There was a floating volleyball field in the middle of the river that made for the first event of the kind in the world.

For further uniqueness of the event, the event marked the start of the CEV EuroVolley 2019 that is also taking part in Ljubljana. This enabled the added value of the event, as the world-class volleyball players played the game. However, this is not the first ‘water-like’ event that Simon Rožnik, the mastermind behind the events that his agency Extrem creates, brought to reality. The other one was the basketball on the sea as a promotional event for Eurobasket 2013. Thus, just these two things are enough to confirm that when he says that he ‘is born to make crazy events’ he really means it.

eurobasket_extrem
Photo credit: www.extrem.si

But for those who still doubt, let’s add extra ‘Extrem’ information from his career path. His first interaction with organizing an event was when he was 14 years old and he organized a football tournament in front of his primary school in his hometown of Horjul. The Streetball or 3×3 basketball, as we know it today, was the one that launched his career as he started organizing the tournaments in the late 90’s. And then he convinced the Slovenian Basketball federation to organize the first national championship in 3×3 in the world in 2004, and now the 3×3 is nothing less than Olympic sport! The rest is history, it could be said …

We talked to this Slovenian enfant terrible in experiential marketing about the Volleyball on Ljubljanica River and his other ‘crazy’ work.

simon_roznik_extrem
Photo credit: Personal archive

Q: How did you come up with the idea for a volleyball match on a river?

I had had the idea in my head for the last three years. I envisioned it on a lake, we have a lot of beautiful lakes in Slovenia and we could do an exhibition match on one of them. Nobody has ever done it in the world, and we wanted to be the first ones. We’re always looking for a story with the event and with Slovenia hosting EuroVolley everything just clicked together. I’m a fan of beach volley, I love to play it. We always try to do something different and I was thinking about how to make a volleyball match different and unique.

Q: What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome to develop the idea into reality?

The biggest challenges were technical. We had to figure out if it is even possible to do a court like this. We had to use different knowledge – static, buoyancy, physics. The first part was figuring out how to sink the court and the second part was getting the finances to launch the event. We had the story, we only needed to put it into a reality.

volleyball_ljubljanica_extrem
Photo credit: www.extrem.si

Q: Were there any particular surprises?

The first reaction of the experts that helped us was discouraging, they said that our idea is impossible to execute. They advised that we put some kind of a pool into the water and we would fill it up with water. It would definitely be easier, but we wouldn’t have the effect of players walking on water. I didn’t give up and researched other options so, in the end, the event could look like I imagined.

Q: What was your favorite part of the whole event?

My favourite part was the event itself and the feedback from the media and public. I knew we were doing something special, but I have never imagined it would be as good and as popular. The great reception of your idea that becomes a successful event, gives you a new momentum to develop new ideas and events that nobody has ever done before.

volleyball_ljubljanica_extrem
Photo credit: www.extrem.si

“I knew we were doing something special, but I had never imagined it would be as good and as popular.”

volleyball_ljubljanica_extrem
Photo credit: www.extrem.si
volleyball_ljubljanica_extrem
Photo credit: www.extrem.si

 Q: What were the outcome, results, feedbacks, …?

The outcome and the feedback were great Beyond what we imagined. The feedbacks from media, volleyball association, spectators and from abroad were fantastic. Everybody loved the event. We first did a 3D visualization of the event and when the event, in reality, is as good or even better then visualized, it is a successful event.

Q: Is there anything you’d do differently now looking in retrospective?

I would change some technical things, that you couldn’t even notice. They were not really as we wanted them. We had some issues with sinking the raft, with all the experience we have now, we could do it easier and faster.

simon_roznik_red_bull_goni_pony
Photo credit: Personal archive

Q: Your agency prepares many experiential events, mostly related to sports. Why sports?

Because I’m a sportsman. I understand sports, I love sports and for me, it’s easy to do sports events. But I already have a lot of different and new ideas in my head for other kinds of events, not just sports.

Q: Why, do you think, is the experience marketing important? What does it bring?

Firstly, it brings a new experience to everybody that participates. A good example is our event Red Bull Goni Pony, I compete there every year. It’s a special experience you can’t miss. A lot of people all with the same goal, to have fun and to reach the top of Vršič mountain on a bike we used when I was growing up. We have a marketing niche; we do what other agencies don’t and that gives us special recognition. But the road from an idea to execution is hard. It’s hard to always look for partners.

“Slovenia is an excellent place for trying out crazy events.”

volleyball_ljubljanica_extrem
Photo credit: www.extrem.si

Q: What was your favorite experience marketing event that you have attended during your career and why?

That’s a difficult choice. Every event is special in its own way. If I choose among our events, definitely Red Bull Goni Pony, basketball on the sea (promotional event for Eurobasket 2013) and Volleyball on Ljubljanica river. Each of these events is unique in its own way. From other events, I would have to say Hero Dolomites. A biking event in the Dolomites that I went to this year. It is an amazing experience, good organization, beautiful views, and I proved myself that I can do a race like that.

Q: What are your plans for the future? Any special new ‘crazy’ events that you have in plan?

We are bringing the Spartan race to Slovenia next year, it’s not a new event it’s a world-recognized event that we are bringing to Slovenia. We are expanding to social events, we already have an idea and we started with the preparations. But for now, we are keeping it as secret. Slovenia is an excellent place for trying out crazy events. We are also looking to spread the events out of Slovenia in a near future.