For the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) annual meeting, Hill’s Pet Nutrition wanted to come up with a truly unique educational event. The goal was to combine education with entertainment, which is a new style of teaching called “edutainment”.
The entertainment part is used to break up the learning into smaller bites which can be easier digested by the audience (pun intended). This avoids what is known as “cognitive burnout”, thereby increasing information retention by the audience.
Hill’s elected to work with Dr. Niemiec to create and star in this groundbreaking evening. He was partnered with Dr. Kymberley Stewart, a professional consulting veterinarian for Hills Pet nutrition at the time (now with Idexx). For months they brainstormed ideas of how to add entertainment to the lecture without becoming overly distracting—and finally, they hit on the perfect solution: a Murder Mystery Dinner. The mystery clues became part of what Dr. Niemiec calls “Brain Breaks”.
What started out as a small addition to the event became a highlight when Hill’s decided to hire professional actors to perform the mystery. Dr. Stewart selected Second City to be the entertainment and since their theme is spy-based, the secret agent persona for Dr. Niemiec followed. This included dressing in a Tuxedo and creating stories from his time in “Her Majesties Secret Veterinary Service”. This includes his now famous root canals on a jaguar in the middle of the jungle as well as treating a baby elephant for mouth infection.
The event was held at the Rosewater supper club as opposed to a hotel ballroom, increasing its exclusivity. Speaking of which, the invites were especially designed in a spy theme for the event. Dr. Stewart added to the evening by encouraging attendees to “dress to kill”, making the mystery clues and notes into “Spy Dossiers”, transporting guests to the event in black SUV’s, creating spy-themed drinks and wine bottle labels.
The attendees made the most of the evening, many coming very well dressed and enjoying the interaction with colleagues as well as the Hill’s staff, the actors, and Dr. Niemiec. A photo booth added an additional element of fun. Many of the attendees were involved in the mystery, providing entertainment for the rest of the crowd.
The event was a smashing success leading to murder mystery dinners being a staple with Dr. Niemiec. For more information on where you may see Dr. Niemiec lecture, please visit our Events page.