Like most marketing tactics, experiential marketing comes from humble beginnings. In its infancy, experiential meant taking a brand to the streets... literally. Brand ambassadors would stand on foot-traffic-heavy intersections handing out free samples, with the hope that passersby would choose the free product they received in their next purchasing decision. Not only were the results of sampling campaigns near impossible to calculate, but brands were ending their relationship with the consumer before it even had a chance to begin.
The annual International Festival of Creativity (aka Cannes Lions) took over the Cote D’Azur once again last month, as the advertising industry continues to face an extraordinarily challenging business environment. From the Palais to VIP parties and luncheons, there were countless fascinating debates from marketers, media professionals, and agency executives with eye-opening insights on the future of advertising.
Immersive museums consistently flood our news feeds. We've watched Boomerang videos of friends jumping into pools of colorful sprinkles, liked countless selfies through Infinity Mirrors, and laughed at the seemingly absurd new themes, such as the Museum of Pizza, The Egg House, and The Cado Museum in San Diego (dedicated to everyone's favorite millennial treat, the avocado).
Deciding that your brand is going to invest in an experiential marketing campaign is about as specific as saying that your family will be traveling abroad for Spring Break. What continent? What country? What city? We know you'll be flying over water at some point -- or in this case, hosting a live experience -- but, the details get fuzzy from there.
American demographics are rapidly changing. And, unfortunately for marketers, those changes come with an increased difficulty in defining target audiences and advertising to them accordingly. As if that wasn't enough, the majority of consumers have changed the way they interact with brands through an increased awareness and aversion to traditional advertising. In short, brands are targeting the wrong consumers — and consumers are prepared to scroll past the advertisements that actually reach them.
Event attendees rarely think about the work that goes into its creation – the countless hours of planning, negotiating, and problem solving. And, as creators, we don’t want them to. We want them to walk into a world that seemingly appeared overnight, in which every detail, from the entertainment to the wine glasses, works together in harmony.
In April 2017, a new, exciting, and exotic music festival was set to take place on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma. Organized by media mogul Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule, Fyre Festival was marketed as a luxury music festival and promoted on Instagram by it-girls Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Emily Ratajkowski. Many of the models/social media influencers did not initially disclose that they were being paid to post and thus, would not actually be attending.
The best social posts are authentic. Not bribed. Not coerced. But, originally conceived from their poster for the pure joy of sharing. At a brand event, it can be difficult for the company behind-the-scenes to trust that attendees will say all the right things, share product photos, use the hashtag, and invoke positive messaging with every Instagram Story. Instead of filling Twitter feeds with an inauthentic "barter posts" (retweet to win a T-shirt!), put a plan in place in the weeks leading up to the event. Here are four of our favorite authentic attendee social sharing strategies:
A brand ambassador shows a traveler the immersive, 10’ tall Echo Dot in Amazon Music's Terminal 5 activation space last month. The music streaming service took over JetBlue's terminal at JFK, allowing consumers to play with the technology, ask questions, and sign up IRL.
Experiential marketing was on everyone's radar in 2017. From the Super Bowl to Art Basel, Sundance to Cannes, brands across the globe invested more money than ever into crafting personalized, creative experiences for their consumers. Beyond establishing brand loyalty and evoking positive sentiment, custom experiences are huge financial wins 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.