If you build it, they will come.
People have avoided advertisements since they were invented. TiVo. Adblock. Throwing those little paper ad things people put on your windshield on the ground. Just flat out ignoring stuff. We’re all guilty of it.
I’m ashamed to admit that I am a very big fan of the Adblock extension myself, despite, you know, being an advertiser. What can I say? How else am I going to binge all of those Buzzfeed videos with ADS? But I digress.
With all of the different ways consumers have found to block out ads, it’s forced us at agencies to do what we do best… get creative.
The newest trend in advertising is creating “experiential” advertising. That is, to say, creating experiences that people go to—ads that people go out of their way to see.
It’s the flashier, richer cousin to covert advertising (remember that blog?). Experiential advertising makes no bones about being an ad. It’s proud of being an ad, in fact. But it’s also a buzzworthy experience that people want to Instagram, and share, and more importantly see.
My personal favorite example of this is an older one—in honor of The Simpsons Movie, multiple 7-Elevens across the nation became Kwik-E-Marts: Squishees, Mayor Quimby signs, and all.
Stores that didn’t get completely converted still sold the Springfield goods; I distinctly remember trekking across town to several 7-Elevens in order to pick up a singular six-pack of Buzz Cola.
Of course, experiential marketing doesn’t require fictional universes to work. Lifestyle brand Refinery29 hosts the very successful 29Rooms event which allows not only Refinery29 to promote themselves, but partners like Dunkin’ Donuts, Dyson, and Cadillac by hosting a 29-room interactive art exhibit boasting style, culture and technology in both New York and Los Angeles.
But, events like these can be tricky. So how can you ensure your event is effective?
1. Be relevant and be accessible. There’s no snappy catchphrase or magic trick to a good experiential campaign. The fact of the matter is, it’s just got to be good. Which is vague advice, I know, but think of it this way: not everyone is going to be able to make it to your super exclusive pop-up boutique that’s only in New York City. If you want a really good experiential campaign, make it something that your audience would want to participate in, and make it something that’s easy to participate in. Like Misereor’s #SocialSwipe PlaCards, which were digital posters set up in airports and banks, that doubled as credit card readers. Folks walking by could choose to donate just 2 euro to help with different crises, like world hunger, and when they swiped their card, it looked as if they were slicing bread for someone to eat. This campaign took advantage of the convenience of credit cards (which everyone carries these days) to make a huge impact. Even better, if someone donated, that donation would show up in their bank statement with a link to make that donation monthly.
2. Understand that it’s kind of hard to measure. Advertising loves data. It’s how we prove that what we’re doing is working. So, understandably, it can make people uncomfortable when you say something like “well, we don’t really have hard data.” Sure, you can track people on social media, or even set up data points to measure success, but really, the best measure is the old fashioned one.
“Not everything can be 100 percent quantified,” Raja Rajamannar, CMO of Mastercard said, “The small smile you bring to someone’s face, that is something.”
And considering the point of experiential marketing is to leave the customer with a positive and more personal connection to the brand, sometimes, an unquantifiable smile is the best thing you can get out of it.
3. And yes, lean way in to that earned media. Look, if your audience can’t come to you, come to your audience. Nobody does this better than Red Bull, and pretty much everything they do ever, but especially their Stratos campaign, in which Felix Baumgartner ascended 128,100 feet in a stratospheric balloon, and then jumped (yes, jumped) back to earth, freefalling faster than the speed of sound, before parachuting to the ground.
Not only was the event amazingly awesome, and ridiculously on brand, but it also was covered by news channels worldwide, because it had Felix Baumgartner breaking a 52-year-old record, and contributing to science—scientific team, peer review and everything.
For days, it was all people anywhere were talking about, and Redbull paid for pretty much none of it.
This was more than just an excellent experiential campaign, but is often considered one of the greatest campaigns of all time. Somehow, they managed to give the whole world an experience. Rad.
Truth be told, we here at JSA can’t offer you the world’s highest parachute drop, but we are pretty great at good experiences. Our Art Hop events alone are proof of that.
So call 559.268.9741 if you’re looking for a good time.