NEXT 2021: From Physical to Virtual



What We Did

Live Event Production
Brand Identity
Set Design
Video Production

With the persistence of the pandemic into 2021, Chick-fil-A could not physically bring together the 8,000 Owner-Operators, Staff, contractors and vendors they would traditionally gather for their annual meeting and retreat. We were asked to reimagine, design and produce this beloved and highly-anticipated annual event in the virtual landscape.

From the beginning we explored ways to preserve the qualities that have defined NEXT - energizing, empowering, authentic, inviting, dynamic - in a virtual format. Using our expertise in digital, virtual, and programmed content, we were able to quickly adapt a traditionally in-person event to be engaging and relevant for all audiences.

We cultivated a sense of “togetherness” through technology and creative storytelling:


Our live audience rotated through a massive LED wall of faces, where our speakers could make eye-contact with them, and at times, call on specific people to have two-way conversations. At-home viewers could catch the rest of their peers via audience pans and wide shots.

We captured as many anecdotes, soundbites, and members of the Operator family as possible to ensure Operators from all parts of the chain with various experiences could be seen, represented, and celebrated by their peers. Although the event was 3.5 hours versus 3.5 days, we were able to represent more Operators and experiences than we traditionally ever have.


When it comes to a 3.5 hour show, simple graphics won’t cut it. We designed a dynamic identity system that could morph throughout the show, mimicking the theme, tone and content being shown. In partnership with animators and 3D artists, we developed real-life textures and materials, in an effort to give life to the computer screen.

In the end, the virtual NEXT experience didn’t replace an in-person gathering, but instead created new moments and touchpoints that were equally, if not more, meaningful and impactful for Operators.

Brand Apart created and produced the world’s best ever virtual event—it was world class!


Mark Miller
Vice President of High Performance Leadership