“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.”— Tom Fishburne
Experiential marketing is all about creating positive associations between a brand and an experience. This means that marketing agencies fabricate commercials, ads, events, etc that speak to a person on an experiential, emotional level.
Simply put, experiential marketing: is to Associate a brand with a (generally) positive experience.
- So why should we consider experiential marketing?
- Allows communication on a personal level
- Has much more potential than other marketing strategies
- Increases brand loyalty
- Can be very cost effective
- Makes a brand stand out in an information-saturated market
Let’s use examples to illustrate how beneficial experiential marketing can be when it is executed properly, no matter if it´s personalised t-shirts, energy drinks, or a tv series what you are announcing:
Red Bull: make it easy for the media to talk about you
One of the most popular experiential marketing exercises ever is the Red Bull Stratos campaign. In case you live under a rock, the energy drink sponsored the world-record attempt of Felix Baumgartner to skydive from the highest elevation ever. News organisations worldwide carried the story, giving the company a huge boost in brand exposure.
Red Bull helped by making it extremely easy for journalists to tell stories of its triumphs, including a dedicated website where media people could download materials if they registered (ATTN: this builds a solid contact list, and we all know how important e-mail marketing is!).
Blinkbox: See the long-term value of experiential marketing
For the premiere of Game of Thrones season 3, UK streaming service Blinkbox created a giant dragon skull and dumped it on a beach in Charmouth. Thanks to this PR stunt/experiential marketing, they saw over 600% in revenue increases!
The Simpsons Movie: Create brand loyalty
Imagine walking into a store and finding all the familiar scenes that you’re used to seeing on your favourite TV show. That’s just what The Simpsons did to launch their 2007 movie. 20th Century Fox partnered with the US convenience store chain 7-eleven to recreate the Kwik-E Marts from the actual cartoon in a dozen locations.
So how do you reinforce brand loyalty through experiential marketing? Immerse your customers in the reality of your product.
Fashion Revolution: create trust
Fashion Revolution’s 2-euro T-shirt stunt in Berlin was a great example of a brand using experiential marketing to make a statement, this time about T-shirts. Because we’re in the garment production business we know you can’t ethically buy tees for two euros – but not everyone does.
The benefit of this kind of experiential marketing? Trust and awareness.
Samsung: Encourage people to come back again and again
For the 2012 London Olympics, Samsung set up a series of brand experiences dotted around London’s hotspots that ran for about two months. There, visitors could stop by to play with the latest model of their phones and tablets, plus check out the special Olympics app they had for the Games. They didn’t actually sell the products there; they just let people check them out.
On top of that, Samsung gave people a major incentive to come back every single day — they could win the latest Samsung mobile and a trip around the world. All they had to do was collect pins every single day from the stand.
The results? 90% of the visitors to the stands said they were more likely to consider buying a Samsung phone after the experience.
Disney: Bring characters to life
Disney is another one of those companies that has the magic touch when it comes to marketing. To promote their television programme Doc McStuffins, which is about a six-year-old girl who heals toys, they gave kids the chance to take on the role of doctor themselves. They set up “Check Up Clinics” at Tesco, Smyths and Toys R Us stores across the UK, and children were invited to become the doctor and diagnose Big Ted, a giant teddy bear. They got to put on their own purple stethoscope and hang out in a waiting room filled with merchandise and freebies while they watched clips from the television show. If there was a line, kids were given balloon animals and iPads to play the Doc McStuffins game while they waited.
In total, nearly 8,000 children went to the clinic, and 87% of parents said they’d recommend the programme to other parents.
Adidas: Invite special guests
adidas #jumpwithdrose from TBWALondon on Vimeo.
Adidas created a pop-up store called the “D Rose Jump Store” in London. Why D Rose? Well, because professional basketball player Derrick Rose was on hand, of course! He challenged fans to see if they could win a pair of free trainers. All they had to do was take them off a shelf…that was 10 feet in the air.
Think that sounds impossible? Just check out this video. It looks like everyone had a really fantastic time!
Lean Cuisine: Find the message your customers want to hear
Lean Cuisine did a great job with their campaign #WeighThis, which featured a wall of scales in Grand Central Station in New York. The brand did a wonderful job of understanding that the people buying their products probably would appreciate the message that it’s not all about weight. By having potential customers get involved in this experience, they managed to associate the positive message and feelings with their brand. They also didn’t directly mention their product, and let the message take centre stage.
SCNF (railway company): Use technology to your advantage
This campaign created by TBWA Paris is such a clever way to get people interested in travelling. They set up doors all around the city with the name of a city on the front of them, like Stuttgart, Barcelona, Milan and Brussels (along with hidden cameras, of course). When people opened the doors, they were connected to a live video stream of somebody in that city. For example, in Barcelona, they danced along to a team of break dancers and in Milan, a mime played along with them. Goes to show you that with technology and a bit of creativity, the sky is the limit!
British Airways & VisitBritain: Go big!
When British Airways and Visit Britain set up a giant suitcase emblazoned with the Union Jack at the Moscow airport, it was already an attention-grabbing piece that promoted the brand. Then, things got even better. Over the airport loudspeaker system, they announced that a flight to London was boarding. The suitcase opened up and a British Airways flight attendant stood outside. The first person to board was a Scottish bagpiper, followed by Sherlock Holmes and Watson, the Beatles (hounded by paparazzi, of course), Mary Poppins, and even the Queen with a corgi. It is any surprise practically the whole airport stopped to watch?
Vitamin Water: make it a game
Most people can’t resist a good game, especially if it’s something easy enough that anyone can join in. Vitamin Water set up a simple game inspired by playground games in London, which quickly drew visitors’ attention. It was a fun, colourful way to associate their signature branding colours with positive feelings. The game also had a partner website.
Pictionary: Set up your campaign somewhere people are already going to be (part I)
In this campaign, a man invites regular mall goers to a match of Pictionary. The cool thing was that he was being projected on a screen. Those brave enough to try their luck and won got an over the top celebration worthy of a parade.
This was especially effective because they set up the experience somewhere they knew lots of people had time on their hands. You know there are always going to be some people sitting down bored at a shopping mall!
Heineken: Set up your campaign somewhere people are already going to be (part II)
Heineken’s “3 Minutes to the Final” took place in a supermarket in Santiago, Chile, where a pretty presenter asked men if they would like to go to the Champion’s League final. The ones who said yes were given half a ticket and three minutes to race around the supermarket and find the person with the other half. All they were told was that the number nine had something to do with it. Talk about doing the groceries at rush hour!
TNT (television station): have a clear call to action
TNT was a new television station in Belgium and their tagline was “We know drama”. They set up a big red button in a quiet square in a Belgian town that people could press to “add drama.” The people in the square were treated to a rather dramatic scene indeed — which only got more ridiculous as time went on!
Pepsi: Use the element of surprise to your advantage
Pepsi set up an “Unbelievable Bus Shelter” in central London that was full of surprises for commuters. A video screen that looked just like a glass panel of the bus shelter would suddenly surprise people with air silly but realistic augmented reality videos, like a massive tentacle popping out of the pavement or a queue of UFOs gliding down the street.
Angry Birds: make the experience something everyone can enjoy
In Barcelona, Spain, T-Mobile set up a booth where people could use a new phone and play Angry Birds. They got a phone that looked like it was just attached to a big screen – but when they launched the bird on the screen, it turned out to be a real-life version of the game, and a giant Angry Bird-shaped ball shot out of a box. It looks like a blast to play and all sorts of people got involved, though we feel a bit sorry for the guy whose job it was to the fish the birds out of trees!
Old Navy: embrace the selfie
Love them or hate them, selfies are definitely here to stay. American clothing retailer Old Navy ran a “#Selfiebration” for its 20th birthday, with machines to go along with it. If viewers posted a selfie on Twitter along with a wish, the machine would fill up 1,000 balloons to create a version of their portrait. There were machines set up in both New York City and Los Angeles, and each machine showed 1,000 selfies per day. People whose selfies were chosen later got sent a GIF of the balloon art to remember it forever.
As you can see, there is a lot of potential in experiential marketing for brands to do something that their customers will really remember. If you can come up with a clever idea, you’ll have a fantastic way to make your brand truly unforgettable for customers.
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