If you have ever seen someone giving away free samples at the supermarket, then you have experienced experiential marketing. But we promise it can get a lot more interesting than that. Gone are the days when a consumer just needed to like your products. Now brands need to be relatable and show they connect with their consumers. Creating experiences is the perfect way to engage with your consumer base and make your brand unforgettable.
What Brands Use Experiential Marketing?
Experiential, sometimes called engagement, marketing can cover a wide range of events. It essentially means that the company has gone beyond traditional advertising and created something that allows the consumer to really connect with the product. Often this means putting on an event, creating an experience that enables the consumer to really interact with the product.
The list of companies using this style of branding and advertising grows longer every year. As demand grows for connection, trends change to a preference for experiences, and technology allows more innovative campaigns, more brands have seen the power of this concept.
The Experts in the Field (and in the Park, the Bar, and More…)
LuluLemon is often considered a giant when it comes to this type of marketing. While some companies go for big, loud events to bring an awareness of and personality to their brand, LuluLemon is effective by living what they sell.
They continuously run HIIT and yoga workshops and consistently provide spaces for people to use their product for a good workout. These events promote the health and well-being that many purchasing their products are striving to achieve. And helping their customers with the shock that, stylish as they are, having the right pants doesn’t do the whole job for you.
Red Bull has always had its finger on the (likely fast racing) pulse in marketing. Attaching themselves to music and extreme sports, they have created a pretty cool image for something people usually use to stay up all night to write assignments and program code.
Not content to sit on the sidelines, Red Bull has had enormous success running their own events. They have created events that specifically and effectively target their own demographic. These include a zany Soapbox race that invites fans to make and race their own self-made carts. Most famously, they sent skydiver Felix Baumgartner to space for the world’s longest skydive. A pretty awesome stunt from a soft drinks company.
Netflix is a company that is good at getting its audience. They respond to the data they collect by creating content that people want to watch. Sounds pretty simple, but a lot of other companies don’t seem to get it. They’ve applied these same skills to create some fantastic events to promote their shows and brands.
They are a fan of creating spaces that allow fans to immerse themselves in the worlds of their TV shows. For instance, Mayor Kline’s Fun Fair in Santa Monica allowed people to immerse themselves in the world of Stranger Things. Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garten in Austin was transformed into a speakeasy to promote The Highwayman. To promote their film, Birdbox, they sent a double-decker bus around Los Angeles and Austin to invite participants on to give them some thrilling jump-scares. A pretty memorable piece of marketing.
It may not be surprising to learn that Airbnb is skilled at experiential marketing as offering experiences is a key section of their platform, but they’ve put on some impressive events to promote their hosting platform too.
They have teamed up with VICE and Pantone to create some unique stunning places for people to stay. Their most elaborate giveaway involved sending the lucky winners to have a sleepover with The Mona Lisa in the Louvre. This prize included a feast, private art tour, and concert in Napoleon III’s lavish Apartments surrounded by priceless artwork.
Innovators in the Streets
Zappos experiential marketing got a lot of attention when they asked people to give up free cupcakes. They partnered up with Google and followed a Google van giving away free cupcakes in exchange for selfies. Their station then offered a chance to exchange these cupcakes for goodie bags from their brand.
Videos of people hesitantly handing over their delicious-looking cupcakes to what is essentially a guy in a box are pretty hilarious and gained attention. They did receive nice sunglasses and watches in return. We may have stuck with the cupcake though.
This one required a lot of coordination but was a pretty special “Social Swipe” Billboard: interactive billboards that you could use to donate $2 at locations such as airports and shopping malls. They would feature things like a loaf of bread you could ‘slice’ with your card and know that money was donated to feed people.
The company fighting poverty found a new way to make people care to donate. Misreor capitalized on the fact that we never carry cash anymore, and tapping or swiping our cards is no longer strange.
Oreos put together a delicious and creative innovation with 3D-printed Oreos. Oreo partnered with Maya design at SXSW for this stunt. They utilized a lot of current technologies to create their experience.
Those visiting the Oreo Lounge could choose from 12 creamy flavor combos, and their cookie would be ready in under 2 minutes. It’s a lot more tech involved than just pulling one from the wrapper but very clever marketing.
WestJet received thousands of views on their heartwarming “Christmas Miracle” campaign YouTube video. They had asked passengers about to step on a flight what Christmas presents they would like. While the flight was en route, staff rushed to buy those exact gifts and deliver them to guests at the baggage carousel.
The passengers were pretty surprised to see the gifts they had asked for actually appear. There were widescreen TVs, Android tablets, Galaxy Phones, and more. There was also one guy opening a packet of underwear and socks, who probably regrets that he didn’t go a bit bigger. Not hard to see why most of these folks would have a strong attachment and want to book WestJet again.
Casper has been doing a pretty good job making some excitement out of marketing mattresses. Something many would consider a pretty mundane purchase. They got people talking with their clever marketing at the annual South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.
This particular year the usual shortage of hotel rooms was worsened by a flight-canceling snowstorm. Casper teamed up with Standard Hotel’s One: Night app to provide cheap hotel rooms for people. Of course, they fitted those hotel rooms with a Casper mattress. There were also plenty of extras added on, including the option to call for a bedtime story and have someone tuck you in!
Coca-Cola offered free James Bond movie tickets from a vending machine at a train station in Antwerp, Belgium. The catch was that you had to get to another vending machine on another platform in seventy seconds. Along the way, they had strategically placed obstacles to get through.
Video of the stunt quickly went viral. This fun and adventurous giveaway created good publicity for both Coca-Cola and the new James Bond film.
Mistakes Have Been Made
Although using experiences in marketing is a great strategy, it is important to know what you’re doing. When interacting with your consumer base, there’s a lot to think about and a lot that can go wrong. Our article wouldn’t be complete without talking about some of those disasters.
Dr. Pepper had a fun-sounding campaign with a large-scale treasure hunt for people across the city. The prizes were pretty big, too. One gold coin would get the claimant ten thousand dollars in return.
It’s all fun and games until someone buries a coin in a cemetery. Hard to see exactly how no one could see the upcoming disaster. The city pretty quickly closed off access to the site as players started to descend; as you might expect, they were pretty concerned about the cemetery being desecrated as people tried to find the valuable coin. Dr. Pepper: “What’s the worst that could happen?”
Well, Jagermeister really did mess up by accidentally poisoning those attending their event. In Leon, Mexico the folks running a pool party decided the event would be super cool if they poured liquid nitrogen over the pool to create a smoke effect.
Shockingly, these party planners were no experts in chemistry. What they did not realize was that liquid nitrogen combined with chlorine creates a toxic reaction. The fumes that rose from the pool caused several people to fall ill.
Snapple created a fruity flood all down the center of New York in a disaster you would think would be easier to spot coming. They decided to create a 25-foot-tall, 17½-ton frozen version of their drink as a downtown stunt.
As it was a hot summer’s day, and the giant popsicle quickly started to melt. Firefighters had to close off city streets to clear up the mess as would-be onlookers fled for higher ground.
As you can see, experiential marketing is all around with many large brands trying their hand in creating engaging events to promote their brand and engage their consumers. When you get it right, it can be very effective in creating a positive memory and link to your brand with customers. If you would like to learn more and get professional help engaging your clients, talk to King Sixteen today.