Annie McAllister describes 1540 Productions as a “full service creative studio.”
McAllister, who’s an executive producer at the company, told me in an interview conducted over email earlier this month 1540 uses a multidisciplinary team to provide the best event development and execution. 1540, she said, offers a “complete solution” to event planning that offers everything in-house: design, food and beverage programs, scenery, and much more. The company’s roster is a veritable who’s who of A-listers, ranging from Apple TV+ to Disney to Hulu to Netflix to ESPN and others.
1540, with offices on both coasts in Los Angeles and in New York, is a marketing agency founded and led by women from minority groups. This, McAllister said, is important because it serves as “the backbone of who we are and the experiences we shape with our client partners.” It’s imperative for McAllister and team that evens be as diverse and inclusive as possible; to that end, she said the team is “blessed” to work with some of the world’s biggest brands, whose own internal events teams share that core vision of always fostering empathy and inclusivity.
The company has put together a sizzle reel of its work on its website.
“It’s vitally important that our team creates events with unique flavors that can reach diverse patrons. After all, our clients audiences are incredibly distinctive and this type of well-rounded thinking is what gives 1540 projects that special ‘meat’ on the bone. All aspects are taken into careful consideration with our clients to meet each brand’s needs,” McAllister said of the cruciality of inclusive events.
When the pandemic was at its zenith (or nadir, if you prefer brutal honesty), 1540 adjusted accordingly with regards to work-from-home requirements and running the business remotely. Now that in-person have become en vogue again, McAllister said the team has refocused on putting together accessible, inclusive, and safe events with groups of actual humans clustered close together.
Accessibility, McAllister told me, is becoming a priority to organizers.
The disability community is naturally most associated with accessibility, yet often is unwittingly excluded from conversations about DEI. It’s quite the paradox, considering the disability community makes up the planet’s largest marginalized group as one in five people identifying as having some sort of disability. And inexplicably, we’re often relegated to living at the marginalized’s margins.
“I believe agencies are working harder than ever with respect to equitable access to events, to ensure that all communities are able to these incredible brand experiences,” McAllister said of her industry’s embrace of inclusivity.
McAllister emphasized 1540 believes their events are “bigger than” the company itself, telling me “we feel a deep sense of accomplishment in having longstanding clients that trust us with the responsibility of bringing their messaging to life.”
Notably, McAllister and team are highly cognizant of the fact accessibility can and does mean different things to different people.
“Accessibility can mean so many different things,” she said. “To us, accessibility continues to mean (but not limited to) equitable access to the event, both physical and quality of experience. In support of this mission, we consider accessibility [as legally mandated under the Americans with Disabilities Act], onsite resources for mothers, remote versus [real life] access, dietary restrictions, allergies, and developing programming that offers a well-rounded cultural point of view.”
In the long-term, McAllister sees an upward trend in events like those 1540 are responsible for as becoming more disability-friendly. In her fourteen years in the industry, McAllister noted she’s seen a “tremendous amount of effort developed in equitable programming for a more diverse audience” and that disability is part of those efforts. She attributes the upswing to brands “leading the way with new requirements and ground rules” for successful movie premieres and the like so that “every unique need is considered when creating once-in-a-lifetime events.”
As with everything accessibility, the work is evergreen. It’s never-ending.
“Event accessibility is perhaps one of greatest challenges in production, since each brand, venue, guest list, and desired message is so completely unique to that singular moment. While there are some staple guidelines in place [like the ADA] to always be mindful of, working with our clients in each distinct scenario is one of our top priorities,” McAllister said. “So much effort is placed on this aspect: from pre-planning to on-site issue response and post event messaging. Accessibility, in all of its forms remains at the forefront of our  creative process.”