The Austin, TX based festival, South by Southwest (referred to as SXSW or simply South by for those in the know), is an experiential, and experimental, marketing opportunity for the world's boldest brands. With 72,000 registrants and artists in attendance, SXSW is one of the most effective channels for promoting your business to professionals connected in the interactive, film, and music industries. SXSW's 100+ sessions, parties, screenings, and keynotes are all centered around one, simple message - the most unexpected discoveries happen when diverse topics and people come together.
While free is a number we can all get behind, we've got some bigger numbers marketers can use to support and grow their experiential budgets in 2017. Beyond establishing brand loyalty, engaging consumers, and evoking positive sentiment, experiential marketing is a huge financial win for brands. Compared to traditional marketing channels, experiential campaigns offer incredible payoffs. History show, events make consumers significantly more likely to align themselves with your brand through purchases, tune-in, or alignment.
Yetis! (Just kidding, though it definitely worked for Travel Channel...)
We've discussed the evolution of experiential activations a lot on this blog, looking back on the humble beginnings of giant logos at huge events and sample handouts on street corners. Sure, these tactics got your brand noticed in the moment, but in the world of insta-everything if you don't give consumers a reason to remember you, believe me, they won't do you the favor.
2016 was our agency's biggest and baddest year yet. We kicked it all off at The Sundance Film Festival in January with SundanceTV, hopped to San Francisco for the Super Bowl with NFL Style, came home to NYC for a minute to bring The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition to the masses and surprise the west side with a giant bong, shot down to Austin for breakfast tacos and Comedy Central's @Midnight Live at SXSW, skipped over to Nashville to build HGTV a lodge, overnighted to VidCon with DreamWork's Trolls' giant rainbow box, introduced you all to our friends from South Park at Comic-Con, jumped around the east coast with BET's Summer Fan Front, and opened the skies in LA for this season's emotional Walking Dead premiere.
Pop2Life, in partnership with Macerich and HGTV, has revolutionized the traditional Santa photo and visit for millions of families during the holiday season. What once was a simple (using that word lightly- people simply got tired of waiting) concept of waiting in long, agonizing lines to simply take a photo with Santa has turned into so much more-- we've created a fully immersive, and more importantly fun, experience.
As 2016 winds down, there is no rest for the weary marketer. We are expected to predict the future and plan for 2017 before the champagne has even been popped to ring in the new year. This notion especially applies to experiential marketing - which requires weeks, if not months, of planning.
Travel is one of the most fulfilling experiences money can buy. With travel brings freedom, exposure to unseen people and places, perspective, and… planning. The pain and headaches that come with planning a travel experience don’t slow us down. In fact, the Boston Consulting Group reports that the millennial generation is more interested than older generations in traveling as much as possible—by a 23-percentage-point margin.
2016 is fading away fast. It was an exciting and interesting year for the experiential marketing industry, as more brands embraced the power of live events and seasoned veterans refined their approaches beyond paying a big check to sponsor a festival, with a focus on smaller, more focused and personalized experiences.
I recently caught up with members of our amazing Event Concierge team to discuss our partnership with iHeartRadio. Now spanning more than 10 events per year, our highly trained team provides white glove service and coordinates travel, hotel, airport transfers, local ground transportation, tickets, credentials, guest lists and itineraries for thousands of guests.
It all started with a box.
Over the summer, DreamWorks enlisted Pop2Life to pop up (see what I did there?) throughout the country and create unexpected moments of joy while promoting their epic upcoming animated feature, TROLLS. We jumped at the challenge and decided to make the experience personal to everyone who would pass by and interact with the activations, with the thought-provoking declaration to, "Find your happy place."