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Experiential marketing, what is it good for?
The premise is to create a closer bond between the consumer and the brand by immersing them in a fun and memorable experience.
If a brand event stirs genuine positive emotions within people then they are more likely to associate those emotions with that brand, which is more effective than just showing them a Facebook ad or something.
Occasionally the line blurs between experiential marketing and a straightforward PR stunt, but I’m not here to waste time quibbling over definitions.
This post was inspired by a new Vans project that's opening in Central London at the beginning of August as a celebration of art, skateboarding, BMX and street culture.
This video gives a teaser of what lies in store at the 'House of Vans':
And here are 10 other great examples of experiential marketing. I've included relevant success metrics where they are available, but others I've included just because I think they're pretty darn cool...
As part of its sponsorship of the 2012 Olympics, Samsung created brand experiences at various destinations around London, including St Pancras International, Stratford International, Westfield Stratford, N1 Centre Islington, Canary Wharf, One New Change, Broadgate and Heathrow T1 departures lounge.
Running from mid July to early September the ‘Samsung Studios’ focused on demonstrating the new Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note.
Visitors could play with Samsung’s Olympic Games app or have their photo taken on the Galaxy S3 and instantly turned into a personalised badge.
There was also a competition to win an S3 and an around-the-world trip if people could be bothered to return every day to collect special pin badges.
Notably, no products were sold at the Studios.
Analysis showed that half the visitors spent between six and ten minutes at the Samsung Studio, while the average interaction was 7 minutes 45 seconds.
For those in the market for a new phone, the average interaction was 8 minutes 15 seconds.
Among various other results, nine of out ten visitors claimed to be more likely to consider a Samsung phone as a result of having interacted with the Samsung Studio.
And just over a third (35%) said they are much more likely to consider Samsung.
Doc McStuffin’s check up clinic
Doc McStuffin is a Disney Channel TV show about a six-year-old girl who heals toys out of her imaginary clinic.
If you’ve not heard of it, I’ll get my seven-year-old niece to sing you the theme tune.
To promote the upcoming second series and increase merchandise sales Disney recreated Doc’s clinic in Tesco, Smyths and Toys R Us in the UK.
Children were given a 10-minute immersive experience where they took the role of Doc and diagnosed what was wrong with Big Ted.
Children waiting for their turn were able to play with Doc McStuffin merchandise, do colouring in, or watch clips from the TV show.
Almost 8,000 children took part in the experience, 75% of whom rated it as ‘excellent’ (I'm assuming they surveyed their parents).
Most importantly, it created a 5.3% increase in the propensity to buy merchandise.
Red Bull Stratos
Pretty much everything Red Bull does is based around experiential marketing, from its Air Race, to its F1 team, to its extreme sports events.
Though none of these garnered the same global attention as the Stratos Jump in which Felix Baumgartner passed the speed of sound as he broke a 52-year-old record for the highest recorded parachute jump.
News channels around the world carried live coverage of the event, gaining Red Bull priceless brand exposure and PR.
Read Andrew Warren-Payne’s blog post to find out why it was one of the greatest ever content marketing campaigns.
Adidas and Derrick Rose
Pop-up stores aren't a new concept, but Adidas' 'D Rose Jump Store' in London was a cut above the rest.
Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose was in attendance to challenge fans to win a pair of free trainers by taking them off a shelf that happened to be 10 foot in the air.
It's a relevant, exciting and memorable experience for all the kids who took part.
I’m not even sure if you can buy Mountain Dew in the UK anymore, so maybe they should carry out more of these kind of stunts.
To drive awareness and encourage people to try Mountain Dew Energy the marketing team designed a 43-day ‘guerrilla tour’ that targeted consumers at festivals, transport hubs and in city centres.
A team of 15 brand ambassadors drove around the UK in a Mountain Dew truck, hosting various competitions and giveaways. They also dished out free samples.
This video explains more:
The campaign achieved an ROI of £1.85 for every £1 spent, and 55% of people targeted by the event went on to purchase a Mountain Dew, more than a third of whom were new purchasers.
When TV station TNT launched in Belgium in 2012 it created this little slice of mayhem in a quiet town square to tie in with its “We know drama” tagline.
It’s had more than 50m views in two years, so it’s been a runaway viral success. But how many people watched the TV channel as a result?
When launching new Sensodyne Complete Protection, GSK wanted to demonstrate how its Novamin technology can help sensitive teeth, as well as encouraging people to think more about sensitivity and its impact on their lives.
‘The Great Sensitivity Test’ was setup near London’s Tower Bridge consisting of three different zones.
Zone one allowed people to have a sensitivity check with a dentist, win prizes, obtain free samples and see a demo of the product.
Zone two was basically a giant tooth that gave people a decent vantage point for a photo.
And in zone three Sensodyne attempted to host the world’s largest ever oral hygiene lesson, as a dental expert told a crowd of 232 people how to correctly look after their teeth.
Overall the event achieved 150 media mentions and distributed almost 6,500 free samples.
Dental sensitivity checks were carried out on 200 people, but there’s no information regarding the impact on purchase intent.
Game of Thrones
This one possibly veers more towards being a PR stunt rather than experiential marketing, but it’s still very cool.
UK movie and TV streaming service Blinkbox dumped a dragon’s skull on a Dorset beach to coincide with the release of Game of Thrones series three.
It was the size of a London bus so naturally gained quite a lot of attention, with around 250 pieces of press coverage appearing in all.
On the day Game of Thrones launched on Blinkbox the company saw a 632% year-on-year revenue increase and achieved its biggest ever day of trading.
Whether that’s down purely to the massive popularity of Game of Thrones or this PR stunt is debateable.
UK store sleepover
In the UK Ikea hosted a sleepover in its Essex store in response to a Facebook fan group called ‘I wanna have a sleepover in Ikea’.
Almost 100,000 people joined the group and Ikea gave 100 of them the chance to actually spend a night in the warehouse.
The winners were given manicures and massages, and had a bedtime story read to them by a reality TV star.
There was also a sleep expert on-hand to give people advice and potentially help them choose a new mattress.
The Simpsons Movie
Okay, so this is an old example, but I really liked it so here it is.
Back in 2007 20th Century Fox partnered with 7-Eleven to transform 12 of its stores into Kwik-E-Marts, the shop run by Apu in The Simpsons.
It was all to promote the release of The Simpsons Movie.
The Kwik-E-Marts offered limited quantities of KrustyO's cereal, Buzz Cola, and Squishee frozen drinks.
A special edition of a Radioactive Man comic book was also produced just for 7-Eleven, while life-size citizens of Springfield could be seen in the stores.
Now it's time to honour your own work...
If you are responsible for a brilliant experiential marketing campaign enter it into the Experiential and Events category at The Masters of Marketing awards, brought to you by Econsultancy and Marketing Week.
This is a major stage for sharing and promoting true mastery and excellence in the marketing industry and can lead to a year-round programme of reputation building publicity and press coverage for your business, your work and your team.
The deadline is 23 September 2015.