December 31, 2014
Experiential marketing is loosely defined as messaging you can touch, feel or view in a physical space. According to the Event Marketing Institute’s EventTrack study, this type of marketing is on a the rise, with marketers spending an estimated 4.7 percent more on experiential and event marketing last year than any other type of marketing.
This increase is being driven by the marketers’ need to make their brands more tangible in consumers’ lives in person and digitally through YouTube videos, tweets and Instagram photos.
Michael Ventura, CEO of Sub Rosa, a New York agency that has done experiential marketing with companies like Nike, defines it as a place where a brand can “extend a hand” to touch and engage the consumer. He says that social media, at the end of the day, just “isn’t physical.”
And that’s what’s making experiential marketing more popular: marketers are using it in combination with their social media strategies to touch and engage more consumers.
What’s the goal or purpose of experiential marketing?
Marketers carry out experiential marketing campaigns with the goal of earning free media and PR. Creative campaigns are fun, interesting and engaging, which is why they capture the attention of consumers and the media.
A successful campaign is measured by the number of PR placements and estimated impressions. Free media is hard to come by for brands because campaigns are generally not interesting enough to be picked up by journalists. But if marketers are creative with experiential marketing, they do have an opportunity to garner PR placements and extend their brand’s reach to millions of readers or viewers.
Three examples of experiential marketing
Let’s look at some effective experiential marketing campaigns:
Red Bull’s Stratos Jump
Everything Red Bull does is experiential marketing. You can find this in the form of their F1 racing team, extreme sports sponsorship or their massively successful Stratos Jump.
Take a look at the Stratos Jump here: http://www.redbullstratos.com/
The Stratos Jump caught the attention of media organizations across the world. News channels carried live coverage of the event and millions of people watched it live from their own computers and mobiles.
This worked well for Red Bull because it captured the imagination of viewers. Felix Baumgartner was attempting something done by no man before – to leap from the edge of space and record the highest ever parachute jump. It was fun, interesting and thrilling and made for great TV, so media outlets wanted to cover the jump.
The end result for Red Bull was great: It had presence across 80 TV stations in 50 countries and the live webcast was distributed through 280 digital partners and racked up 52 million views, making it the most-watched live stream in history. This led to hundreds of PR placements, millions of impressions and views and in the six months after the campaign, U.S. sales increased seven percent to $1.6 billion, according to research firm IRI.
In the ever-intense battle of the beer brands, XXXX opted to use experiential marketing to stand out and ‘touch’ their consumers. XXXX Gold created a competition whereby customers could enter to win a weekend away – with mates – to XXXX Island, a 15-acre island XXXX bought in the Great Barrier Reef.
Check it out here:
This was the ultimate destination for a mates’ trip away. XXXX used this marketing to connect with their customers around what its brand represents: living a good life. Who wouldn’t dream about a relaxing few days filled with fishing, touch footy, beach cricket and barbequing the catch of the day with a cold beer in hand? I like how this brings to life the XXXX Gold brand and captures the imagination of its consumers. It makes the brand image tangible and gives consumers the bigger picture view of what it means to drink a XXXX Gold beer.
XXXX Gold marketing manager, Anna McMillan, knows that we all live busy lives filled with family and work commitments. She says the XXXX team wanted to “create something larger than life, something that gave Aussies the chance to get away and hang out with their mates.”
And they certainly nailed it. There have been hundreds of PR placements and it’s been tightly linked with their other marketing around the summer of cricket.
Sprite took things to a new level when they installed a giant Sprite shower on a beach in Brazil. Take a look at what they did here:
Sprite did a great job of creating a campaign that brought their consumers and online fans together into a real environment. In a physical place, consumers could come and take a ‘Sprite shower,’ although it was just water, and engage with the brand and get a free soft drink. This is just plain fun! Who doesn’t want to shower under a giant Sprite soft drink machine? You don’t get to do that every day.
Sprite found a way to connect with consumers in a fun way that was consistent with their brand. News outlets caught onto the promotion and the campaign garnered lots of PR placements.
Make your brand tangible with experiential marketing
With more and more marketing spend being allocated to digital and social media channels, marketers need to find a way to get in front of customers and make their brands tangible. Experiential marketing — when done well — is a great way to connect with consumers in a physical place and create an experience that they can take away with them and associate with your brand.
Because of experiential marketing, we all associate Red Bull with pushing the limits, XXXX Gold with a good life with mates and Sprite with fun with friends.
What can your brand do to connect with consumers in a physical space?
Simon Dell is a former agency owner and managing director, and is now a freelance consultant under his own brand SimonDell.com. His goal is to help develop and implement strategic digital and creative marketing plans for clients delivering measurable results and fantastic ROI. He also writes for Fairfax Media, MYOB's business portal and frequently speaks at events and conferences around Australia.