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5 Brands Spreading Cheer With Experiential Marketing This Holiday Season

Experiential Marketing

It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but the annual holiday season will look (and feel) markedly different in 2020, from quiet celebrations and intimate dinners to scaled-back Black Friday doorbusters and more. 

The same is true for brands looking to promote the holidays, already in full swing. But, spreading holiday cheer during challenging times doesn’t have to be complicated. Let’s take a look at five brands that are jingling all the way with reimagined holiday experiential marketing campaigns.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Santaland Go Virtual

Perhaps no brand rings in the holiday season like Macy’s, like its Thanksgiving Day Parade and Santaland. Last year, over 8,000 people braved New York’s chilly November weather to catch a glimpse of the retailer’s annual (and world’s largest) parade. And, since 1977, over 200,000 guests have visited “Santa’s home base” at Macy’s Herald Square location in Manhattan.  

This year, those holiday events will be virtual. Trading in its 2.5 mile parade route, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will shift to a television-only special broadcast, with the overall number of participants reduced by 75% who are socially distanced during performances while wearing face coverings and other PPE. “Five specialty vehicles” will also be employed to anchor the parade’s signature balloon characters. 

From Nov. 27 through Christmas Eve, Macy’s whimsical Santaland will be transformed this year into a free and virtual experience. Featuring interactive games with elves, a peek at Santa’s village and workshop, and the chance for kids to read off their wish lists and even pose for a selfie with Santa, Macy’s is ultimately bringing a piece of Christmas magic without needing to leave home.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Virtual

Michaels and Pinterest’s Immersive Holiday Shopping Experience

Michaels has teamed up with Pinterest to bring virtual shopping experiences to arts-and-crafts lovers this holiday season. Shoppers will be able to explore 360-degree interactive experiences in three “holiday” themes: “Peppermint Lake,” “Silver and Snow,” and “Winter Wonderland.” Each theme includes do-it-yourself projects and features products that can be purchased directly from Michaels’ website, like gift boxes, gift wrapping, holiday wreaths, ornaments, and more. 

According to the retailer, the goal was to allow consumers to safely shop during the holidays, without having to go to physical Michaels locations during the coronavirus pandemic. 

That marketing strategy has proved to be good news so far. Holiday searches on Michaels’ Pinterest page are up 77% compared to 2019, including three times the increase in searches for Christmas gift ideas.

Sam’s Club’s “National Lampoon’s” Holiday Experience

Few holiday films are more beloved (and quotable) than “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” And, warehouse retailer Sam’s Club is giving its members the chance to step directly inside the world of the Griswolds and their home at the center of the movie. 

Sam’s Club’s interactive and shoppable virtual experience serves as the brand’s backdrop to showcase its holiday products; from décor and gifts, to festive food items and even Clark’s troublesome Christmas lights.

With just the right amount of movie nostalgia, Sam’s Club has bridged the misadventures of the classic holiday comedy with the disruptions of 2020 to celebrate that even when things don’t go as planned, we can still have the “hap-hap-happiest Christmas.”

Sam's Club National Lampoons

Hotel Tonight’s Holiday Message for the In-Laws

Most brands promote the joys of “family togetherness” during the holidays. But, for some people, there’s also such a thing as “too much family time.” Hotel Tonight understands how you feel. Since 2016, the travel booking site’s tongue-in-cheek “Visit, Don’t Stay” campaign is based on the simple idea of letting the professionals take care of your holiday sleepover needs, instead of well-meaning, but quirky relatives. 

With a creative social media campaign, featuring “Aunt Mary” wanting to be your charades partner, “Uncle Tony” and his cringe-worthy jokes, or “TMI” online dating stories from “Cousin Gary,” Hotel Tonight promises to help users find discounts for same-day hotel bookings.

Campbell’s Talks Turkey With “Dinner Insurance”

As smaller, more intimate gatherings take place this Thanksgiving, a recent survey by Campbell Soup Co. found an influx of first-time hosts and wary cooks, prompting the brand to launch “Campbell’s Dinner Insurance.” 

An online hub for holiday side dish solutions, first-time hosts can now easily find simple to make, no-fail recipes. And, for cooks needing an even wider safety net (and who live in Manhattan), Campbell’s has also partnered with online grocery delivery service Instacart to provide gourmet replacement side dishes (like, green bean casserole, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and more) with same-day delivery on Thanksgiving. 

‘Tis the Season to Celebrate the Holidays With Experiential Marketing

If 2020’s taught us anything, it’s been how to scale down and scale back. Yet, that sense of personal intimacy is the perfect gift when it comes to experiential marketing campaigns

Especially during the holidays. While gatherings may be smaller and crowds scarcer this year, brands are thinking outside the box by bringing creative messaging directly to consumers in order to help make the season bright.

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Why Event Marketing Vehicles are a Smart Move

Experiential Marketing

Forget conventional marketing campaigns. If you want your brand to be noticed, take a look at why event marketing vehicles are the right choice to maximize the impact of your next experiential activation. 

Event marketing vehicles create stand-out, multi-sensory, brand engagement experiences and are a great platform for brands to activate on-the-street, branded sampling, demos, and events. 

With a variety of options at your disposal (and to fit your specific needs), event marketing vehicles can bring your brand directly to the people with one-of-a-kind experiences, that generate valuable content for social media as well as create meaningful audience engagement.

Event Marketing Vehicles

Take Your Show on the Road

Event marketing vehicles offer the opportunity for brands to showcase their products (and themselves) on-the-street, close to events, inside festivals and trade shows, and directly where their target audience is. 

They provide an optimal opportunity to reach potential new customers, cultivate brand loyalty, and generate tens of thousands of brand impressions across traditional and social media. 

During Stonewall 50 – World Pride NYC, apparel retailer Zara and responsibly-sourced water company JustWater partnered to celebrate the event with a colorful, event marketing vehicle to attract attendees. 

Transforming a three-sided glass truck into a customized mobile showroom displaying a 3D Pride flag assembled from 9,000 multi-colored bottles of JustWater, Zara’s event marketing vehicle kept festival-goers hydrated with its rainbow selection of complimentary beverages. And, Zara and JustWater’s experiential marketing campaign translated into success online, with over one million impressions on social media worldwide.

Zara World Pride NYC Truck

Which Event Marketing Vehicle is Right for You

There are several types of event marketing vehicles, each with their own unique benefits depending on your brands goals, budget, and needs:

1. Mobile Showrooms

Mobile showrooms offer a fantastic opportunity to let your audience get an inside-look at your brand with see-through glass walls. Mobile showrooms work well with outdoor events requiring an enclosed space for a dedicated brand experience. Fitness start-up P.volve recently used a mobile showroom to bring their brand to life with a glass-wall, mobile showroom and fitness studio across Manhattan.

2. Step-Vans

Step-Vans are food-truck style vehicles and a great option for outdoor deployments requiring a preparation space for product sampling. For the 2019 Women’s World Cup, Twitter customized a food truck to promote the advancement of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. The food truck stopped at 20 marketing agencies over the course of three days in New York City, serving 6,000 guests with sparkling lemonade, French fries, and a chance to win prizes. Twitter created a one-of-a-kind experience drove buzz around the team’s success through digital content, culminating through the use of hashtags and tweets. 

3. Airstreams

Airstreams are an American classic and a show-stopping, branded-backdrop, perfect for your next activation. Fashion designer Ralph Lauren has tried his hand at an eclectic mix of side-ventures, from “Ralph’s Coffee” to, more recently, “Ralph’s Hot Dogs.” At the brand’s flagship store on New York’s Upper East Side, a Christmas-themed Airstream trailer was stationed, providing hungry shoppers with a selection of “Ralph’s Hot Dogs” and “Ralph’s Caramel Corn.” This two-pronged approach of promoting their “street eats” to a built-in audience already shopping at their store created an effective marketing strategy.

Tips and Tricks to Launch Your Event Marketing Vehicle

There are plenty of ways to ensure when you invest in an event marketing vehicle, you’re getting your money’s worth. But, there are a few key takeaways to keep in mind.

Before booking an event marketing vehicle, make sure you partner with an agency with proven experience. From planning and permits, to experiential staff and insurance, researching and hiring the right agency is crucial. 

Also, your brand’s activation continues long after the “day-of” event. Make sure your goals are clear and what “success” looks like to you. Choose the right metrics to track, whether it be “return on investment” (ROI) or “click-through rate” (CTR), and understand how those metrics will be measured. 

Merging a distinctive marketing strategy tailored to your brand’s needs with data and KPIs (key performance indicators) to measure success using hard numbers, is a sure-fire way to keep the conversation going long after your event is over.

Transform Your Next Experience With Event Marketing Vehicles

By bringing your brand to the streets with an event marketing vehicle, your brand creates a customized,  unforgettable, in-person experience. When you think outside-the-box, you have access to a non-traditional platform that cuts through the noise, makes you noticed, your message heard, and leaves lasting impressions with not only your most loyal customers, but new ones as well.

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Leveraging Influencer Marketing to Maximize Your Impact


The pandemic has ushered in a new age of experiential with influencer marketing. At the crossroads of tech and social media, influencer marketing has brought branding relationships directly to consumers, no matter where they are. 

With so many people spending more time on their smartphones and tablets, as they work from home and limit outdoor social activities, influencers are organically engaging tens of millions around the world everyday. 

So, how can brands tap into this social media marketing shift and use influencers to execute successful experiential marketing campaigns? Check out these best practices, trends to watch, and examples of successful influencer marketing.

Product Sampling Activation

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on endorsements, product placements, and/or partnerships with key leaders who have a large and engaged audience that brands can tap into to build visibility, credibility, and even sales. In fact, 93% of marketers currently practice some form of influencer marketing. 

While technically in practice as early as the 18th century, it wasn’t until the 1930s when the idea of influencer marketing began to take shape – first in the form of fictional characters. The most memorable example (still in use today) is Coca Cola’s popularization of Santa Claus. In 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, the beverage company reimagined the image of Old St. Nick to elicit feelings of cheer during what was, arguably, an otherwise miserable time for a majority of Americans.

Influencer Marketing Example

Fast-forward a few decades to the era of celebrity endorsements. Unlike fictional characters, real people with mass followings were able to convince an even larger segment of the consumer population to buy products they endorsed. Since his signing in 1984, Nike’s partnership with Michael Jordan helped turn the once scrappy footwear company into one of the largest, most valuable consumer brands in the world, while transforming the basketball legend into a global cultural icon (and netting him an estimated $1.3 billion in the process). 

However, by the early 2000s, the weight of traditional celebrity endorsements became less effective as consumers looked to influencers who were more accessible and relatable. Thanks to social media, influencer marketing as we know it today was born. From Facebook and Twitter, to Instagram and YouTube, the phenomenon of “regular” people who’ve accumulated millions of followers and billions of views with highly engaging content has led to brands leveraging that influence, trust, and authority to expand their own reach.

Michael Jordan Nike Influencer

Five Best Practices of Influencer Marketing

Especially if you’re not social media savvy, navigating the world of influencer marketing can be challenging. Let’s take a look at some best practices that’ll help your brand launch a successful campaign.

1. Know your goals and how to measure them

Whether building awareness, attracting a new target audience, or facilitating sales, investing the necessary resources to properly test and measure your influencer campaign as a viable channel is crucial to its success. 

2. Understand the influencer landscape

Expand your search beyond Instagram and Facebook and check out other platforms like Snapchat and Pinterest. The idea is to go where your target audience is active and capitalize on the influencers who are there with them. 

3. Find an influencer who aligns with your brand

No two influencers are cut from the same cloth. Making sure you partner with creators whose content and values are aligned with yours allows them to speak to your brand in an authentic way. 

4. Let your influencer do what they do best

While it makes sense to want to retain control, it’s important to give your influencer creative freedom. They’ve spent years cultivating their loyal following and understand the type of content that’ll attract them. Allowing them the flexibility to craft the right message will turn into successful conversions for your brand.

5. Review your campaign’s performance

From sales and website traffic, to awareness and generating content, if you’ve put in the effort to create an influencer marketing campaign, it’ll be a waste of everyone’s time if you don’t review its performance throughout. 

Three Influencer Marketing Trends to Watch

By 2022, the influencer marketing industry is set to nearly double to over $15 billion. As the landscape continues to evolve, it’s important to stay on top of these influencer trends to ensure your brand is getting the most out of its partnerships.

The rise of micro-influencers

While micro-influencers may not have the celebrity-type status of macro-influencers, they tend to have more personal relationships with their followers. Swedish watch company Daniel Wellington’s mix of both macro and micro-influencers has helped turn their brand into a booming $230 million global business.

Video content dominates

Utilizing experiential marketing’s most prized commodity: storytelling, video makes perfect sense for marketers to reach more people. This past Valentine’s Day, Dunkin’ sought out influencers to build their own DIY version of a bouquet of flowers using their heart-shaped donuts, helping to boost engagement rates and outperform traditional content across its own channels. 

Merging social media and live experiences

Hilton Hotels has long leveraged influencer marketing to attract younger generations. With its [email protected] initiative, Hilton opens up live events at its properties using influencers to promote concerts and live streams.

Hilton @Play

Grow and Expand Your Brand With Influencer Marketing

It’s a fact; influencers are here to stay. What’s changed in a short amount of time is how brands take advantage of their impact. Nevertheless, influencers have quickly become increasingly popular for brands to invest in. 

As the reach of social media continues to expand, boosting word-of-mouth marketing, influencers can help your brand connect with audiences, enhance awareness, boost conversions, and drive sales. Once you identify the right strategy and develop a solid plan, your brand can tap into the experiential power of influencer marketing.

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