Comic-Con Brand Activations We Love and You Will Too

Experiential Marketing

Are you looking for a globally popular event to host your brand activation? An event filled with passionate fans that receive worldwide media coverage and social media attention? Comic-Con brand activations give companies the chance to interact with devotees of comic books, anime, video games, cosplay, and more. There are plenty of creative ways your brand can join in on the conversation.

So, let’s take a closer look at a few examples that captured the spirit of this pop culture destination.

Taco Bell 2032

Inside the experiential marketing world, Taco Bell reigns supreme with creative and innovative events. There’s “The Bell,” Taco Bell’s hotel and resort in Palm Springs, Calif. Or the QSR chain’s “#BajaBlessed” mobile hair salon. But at San Diego Comic-Con in 2018 provided attendees a glimpse of the future with “Taco Bell 2032.” Inspired by the 25th anniversary of the Sylvester Stallone film “Demolition Man,” where Taco Bell is the lone survivor of the “fast-food wars,” the brand imagined what the Taco Bell of the future would look like.

The three-day Comic-Con brand activation featured an out-of-this-world exterior and dynamic LED neon art inside. Of course, the food got a galactic makeover, like “Bubbly with Baja Bursts” and futuristic “Crunchwrap Supreme,” served by actual robots!

Shake Shack and “Bob’s Burgers”

Another popular San Diego Comic-Con brand activation featured a delicious partnership between Fox’s “Bob’s Burgers” and Shake Shack. For an exclusive event celebrating the 150th episode of the hit show, fans were picked up in a branded bus and taken to a nearby Shake Shack decorated with artwork and props from “Bob’s Burgers.” 

From a replica of the cartoon’s iconic dining counter, you could order Shake Shack’s “Burger of the Day,” called the “Can I have your slaw-tograph.” This decked-out cheeseburger was topped with BBQ pulled pork, jalapeños, pickles, and scallion coleslaw.

SpongeBob Appreciation Day

In 2019, Nickelodeon celebrated the 20th anniversary of– arguably– its most popular show. Of course, we’re talking about “SpongeBob SquarePants.” And, the network went big for the milestone occasion. At New York Comic-Con, Nickelodeon erected a larger-than-life Comic-Con brand activation experience with a replica of SpongeBob’s hometown of Bikini Bottom.

Inside, fans could hang out in life-sized replicas of “The Krusty Krab,” “The Chum Bucket,” and “Mrs. Puff’s Boating School.” But that wasn’t all. Attendees built their own “Krabby Patties” and snag branded merchandise like T-shirts, socks, toys, and a ‘90s-style fanny pack.

NYCC 2019 SpongeBob Appreciation Day

HBO’s AR “Watchmen” Experience

“Watchmen” is based on the 1959 graphic novel about a nuclear physicist who transforms into superhero Doctor Manhattan. When HBO announced “Watchmen” as a limited series in 2019, the network gave fans the chance to become Doctor Manhattan themselves through augmented reality. 

At that year’s San Diego Comic-Con, private booths were set up to give participants a two-minute AR experience. After a brief narration of Doctor Manhattan’s origin story, a countdown to their AR transformation appeared. And at the end of the experience, fans saw the results via email.

Watchmen Comic Con Activation

Starz Takes “Outlander” Fans Back to the 18th Century

In the weeks leading up to its season four premiere, Starz’s hit show “Outlander” transported fans back in time to the 1700s– when the show takes place– at New York Comic-Con in 2018. Visitors could step into an authentic recreation of Claire and Jaime’s cabin and peruse props from the show. Fans also received branded swag from the Comic-Con brand activation, from custom leather luggage tags to specially-made fragrances.

Comic-Con Brand Activations Create Memorable Moments To Win Over Fans

Avid fans come to Comic-Con to get exclusive scoops from their favorite brands, preview new releases, and meet the actors who play their favorite characters. This fandom has inspired companies to get in on the action, but it takes more than just renting a booth. The most successful Comic-Con brand activations go above-and-beyond, launching interactive, multi-sensory experiences. When attendees can immerse themselves, brands allow themselves to stand out and be the star of the show.

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Brand Activation Rules You Don’t Want To Break

Experiential Marketing

You want to reach more customers who’ll buy into your brand’s message. But, how do you break through the noise and capture a slice of the market share? Consider investing in a brand activation strategy. But, there are ironclad rules to successful brand activation. So, before you hit the ground running, let’s take a look at the top 4 that will ensure you develop an effective brand activation campaign.

What Is a Brand Activation and Why Is It Important?

Brand activation is the process of making your brand known to consumers by increasing awareness and engagement through experiences. But, brand activations differ from general branding strategies. Of course, reaching more people is the focus of most marketing systems. But, brand activations center around a single event or campaign.

Brand activations don’t only apply to new brands and start-ups. All businesses should evolve to meet changing times and consumer behaviors. Incredible brand activations know who their customers are, what they want, and align with their tastes. 

Brand activations are essential because they bring your brand to life. According to Event Marketer, 98% of consumers feel more inclined to purchase a brand’s products or services after attending an event.

Bloomingdales WW84 Brand Activation

1. Knowing Which Brand Activation Is Right for You

There are many types of brand activations at your disposal. Here are three of the most common:

  • Experiential marketing events are emotionally-based and build strong relationships between brands and consumers. Why? Because brands engage audiences with experiences. They let people try a product, ask questions, or entice them with multi-sensory moments. 
  • Product sampling events are tried-and-true. Consumers enjoy trying products first without the risk of buying them. But, keep in mind that there are right ways and wrong ways to pull off promotions. Brand ambassadors shouldn’t be pushy or over-eager. Choose your tactics wisely and tailor them to your target audiences’ habits.
  • The most popular brand activations are in-store campaigns. Customers can interact inside a brand’s natural environment. It’s an excellent strategy for restaurants and retail brands where products are the main attraction. Customers can experience your inventory while seeing up-close how you treat your customers.

2. Understanding the Three Pillars of Brand Activation

Developing your campaign means a lot more than throwing it together with a lot of bells and whistles. It takes sticking with crucial features that distinguish brands from their competition:

  1. Your customers drive demand for your brand. Awareness of consumer trends is vital if you want to tap into their desires and increase your viability.  
  2. Launching a campaign takes nuance, and timing is part of that. Reaching target audiences at the right time and the right place makes your brand activation organic and less staged. 
  3. Lose the expectation that consumers need you. In competitive marketplaces, there’s always someone else to steal them away. Think about why your customers should believe in your brand above others.

3. Analyzing the Right Metrics

Brand activations build loyalty. The catch is knowing if your mission struck real emotions with your target audience. How do you go about measuring that kind of success? It’s all about using the right metrics. Here are some that you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • Your campaign should start with determining if it’s relevant. Does it reflect your brand’s message and core values?
  • Consumer reach measures how many people your campaign will touch. Is it a mobile tour across the U.S.? A worldwide guerilla marketing campaign? Or is it a one-time event that’s limited to your immediate area?
  • The bottom line is the benefits of your campaign should outweigh the costs. Return on investment doesn’t mean measuring in terms of sales. Think about what investment means to your brand and its goals. 
  • Brands should want to maximize what a brand activation can do for it. Think about its long-term potential. Can your campaign reap additional rewards later on down the road?
  • The best way to reach audiences is to offer them something they won’t get elsewhere. How unique is your event? Does it get consumers, influencers, or media talking? Examining social media engagement and feedback surveys will help you figure this out. 

4. Respect Your Customers (and Listen to What They Have To Say)

Throughout this post, we have come back to the importance of customer perception. Because brand activations make-or-break your success. They should feel like an extension of your brand. One thing they should never feel like is a publicity stunt.

Consumers are savvy, and they can tell when they’re being pandered. Respect your customers, and they’ll respect you. And always plan your brand activation with them in mind. It should be engaging and exciting, but never off-message or off-brand.

That’s where feedback comes in. Engagement is a two-way street. As much as you want your customers to understand you, you need to understand them as well. Surveying your audience during and after your event will give you a better idea of whether your brand activation achieved its desired effect.

Follow These Rules, and Your Brand Activation Will See Success

If brand building were a race, it would be a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time and dedication to turn a brand into a success. But, brand activations can help you get there. They boost your business with engaging experiences that foster relationships, drive awareness, and reshape perceptions. 

An integral part of any brand strategy, these types of campaigns will increase your chances for success and establish deep connections with your customers when done right by following these rules.

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Give Your Brand the Human Touch With Street Team Marketing

Experiential Marketing

Street team marketing is all about getting boots on the ground, engaging with consumers, and putting a human and friendly face to your brand.

By reaching your audience where they are, you can create memorable moments, receive real-time customer feedback, and inspire people to invest in you. 

It’s easy to plan a street team marketing campaign. It just takes the right amount of strategy and skill to pull off these one-of-a-kind events. 

Let’s dive into what street team marketing is, why it’s so effective, and the most important tips you need to know.

Street Team Marketing

What is Street Team Marketing?

Street team marketing is a form of experiential marketing that deploys brand ambassadors to engage consumers with in-person experiences. In fact, street team marketing is one of the oldest forms of live, experiential marketing. 

By targeting busy, high-foot traffic locations, street team marketing gives brands the chance to directly influence people by informing and educating them, distributing samples, conducting live demos, and more. 

Street team marketing impacts awareness, consumer engagement, and sales. When your brand is able to launch a memorable experience in-person, your creative options are endless. All you need is your imagination and a solid plan to fully harness the power that a street team marketing event can deliver.

How Street Team Marketing is Effective

Street team marketing gives your brand a personal touch and inspires face-to-face interaction. Even as digital forms of experiential marketing rise in popularity, consumers still crave human connections.

  • Whether your event is held in a major city or small town, you can reach hundreds or even thousands of consumers. 
  • In-person events create positive brand impressions. 
  • In competitive environments, street team marketing increases your brand’s chances of standing out from the crowd. 
  • Street team marketing gives your brand the fluidity and mobility to move where consumers are throughout your event (i.e. outside subway stations, college campuses, business districts, etc…).
  • Street team and social media marketing go hand-in-hand, allowing your brand to further enhance quality brand/consumer content and engagement. 
  • Unlike most experiential marketing activations, and depending on your location, permits are not generally required for most street team marketing events.

Plus, street team marketing is relatively cost-effective compared to other types of experiential marketing, while yielding similar results. 

At World Pride NYC in June 2019, Zara and JustWater partnered to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. With a three-sided glass mobile showroom displaying a 3D Pride flag created from nearly 10,000 bottles of JustWater, Zara’s friendly street marketing team livened spirits and kept parade-goers hydrated with a rainbow selection of complimentary drinks.

That same year, Twitter celebrated the U.S. Women’s National soccer team’s historic fourth World Cup championship with a three-day branded promotion tour around New York City. Transforming a food truck into an immersive, branded vehicle and creating a soccer-themed, interactive experience, Twitter’s #StartWithThem campaign was led by a street marketing team who greeting passers-by with French-themed culinary delights and a chance to win prizes from lounge chairs to Apple TVs and Airpods. 

Street Team Marketing Zara

Types of Street Team Marketing

Street team marketing comes in many forms and is completely customizable to your specific goals:

  1. Product sampling marketing teams give brands the opportunity to showcase their products by allowing consumers to engage their senses with the help of knowledgeable, day-off event staff. 
  2. Experiential street marketing teams use interactive mediums to connect consumers with a brand. Whether props, games, digital apps, or other activities, these teams thrive on building authentic audience participation. 
  3. Guerilla marketing teams are built to capitalize on the element of surprise in headline-grabbing ways. Think flash mobs that perform dances and sing songs or costumed characters dressed in eye-catching outfits. 
  4. Retail street marketing teams are brand ambassadors that promote brick-and-mortar retail stores and highly effective for generating same-day, in-store sales, and attracting attention for nearby in-store events.

Tips For Street Team Marketing Success

There’s a lot to consider when planning a street team marketing event, especially since you’re utilizing a staff meant to enhance and advance your ultimate goal of reaching more people, and raising awareness and sales:

  1. Have a clear and concise message that’s memorable and aligns with your brand.
  2. Know your target audience and know where they can be reached. 
  3. Work with professionals who can provide you with the right staff and can handle event logistics. 
  4. Secure necessary permits and insurance not only for your event but your street marketing team as well.
  5. Provide your street marketing team with proper training and dress them in branded uniforms. 
  6. Leverage your in-person event before and after with a compelling call-to-action on social media to boost engagements. 
  7. Post-event, evaluate your performance, gather feedback from your street team, and make notes on how you can improve future campaigns.

Breathe Life Into Your Brand With Street Team Marketing

If you think about it, all live marketing campaigns require staff to play a critical role in helping you reach your goals. On the front lines, these brand ambassadors are the ones who will make that always-important first impression on consumers. 

In order to ensure you have the best people representing your brand that can handle the nitty-gritty, it’s important to work with an experienced team that has proven success under its belt, allowing you stay focused on the big picture of executing a remarkable campaign that lets you reach your goals.

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Branding on Wheels: Why Food Trucks are the Perfect Way to Promote Your Brand

Experiential Marketing

Need to give your next experiential marketing campaign a jump start that’s eye-catching and stands out? A food truck promotion is your new go-to for creating an experience that captures your consumers senses in an unforgettable way. 

Experiential marketing with a branded food truck is one of the hottest and most in-demand ways to get your brand directly in front of consumers.

And, food trucks can be utilized for much more than sampling food and beverage items. From fashion to financial services, the uniqueness that a branded food truck brings to your experiential marketing campaign will turn heads along with a team of smiling faces to bring the essence of your brand to life.

A Food Truck Promotion Heats Up Your Brand

You’ve probably seen food trucks cruising the streets in your area or parked in the perfect spot to grab lunch or a late-night snack. But, can food trucks also be used as an effective experiential marketing platform? 

With custom-wrapping that draws attention and branding that engages your audience, food trucks are some of the most creative and effective promotional tools for sampling, giveaways, retail promotions, and more. 

When Chanel launched their Le Rouge campaign in December, 2018, they wanted to heat things up by giving their customers a special treat. For the entire month, vintage Tuks were parked along three different locations in SoHo serving piping hot, luxurious cups of hot chocolate. In a tongue-in-cheek nod to the eponymous founder of Chanel, these cups of “hot coco” (sporting Chanel-branded sleeves) not only drove brand awareness, but also endeared them to New Yorkers in need of a warm pick-me-up just in time for the holidays.

A Food Truck Promotion Gets You #Trending

Looking to increase your brand’s reach with consumers on a mass scale? Social media is today’s “word of mouth,” so it goes without saying that connecting with your audience across the digital space is necessary in 2020. 

Food truck marketing provides an experiential marketing strategy that helps make your brand relevant and favors personalized interactions with consumers over “one-size-fits-all” mass marketing. Last summer, Calvin Klein wanted to take advantage of those always-trending “national calendar days” (think, “National Pizza Day” or “Talk Like a Pirate Day”) by creating a campaign celebrating “National Underwear Day” with a branded food truck

On a hot August day last year throughout Manhattan, Calvin Klein and Van Leeuewen Artisan Ice Cream handed out custom MyCalvins and ice cream cones that coordinated with the colors of the custom underwear.

What better brand to drive the conversation on “National Underwear Day” across social media (and beyond) than the company that made boxers and briefs “cool”? By utilizing a well-timed and meaningful experience, Calvin Klein capitalized on a day (practically) made just for them.

A Food Truck Promotion Changes the Perception

Using a branded food truck can be a unique method to test out or launch a new product in a way that captures consumer interest, allowing them to see your brand in a new light. 

When one thinks of “trendy” and “cutting-edge,” credit card companies are not the first industry that comes to mind. But, Mastercard wanted to change consumers’ perceptions when they used experiential marketing to promote their Tap & Go  contactless technology. 

Partnering with Capital One, Mastercard utilized a branded food truck featuring mouth-watering fare from renowned chef JJ Johnson of Harlem’s FieldTrip to interact with New Yorkers and show them how to use their Tap & Go  cards through interactive stations located in front of the customized truck. 

An added bonus? Along with delicious (and complimentary) eats, participants were also treated to free Metrocards just for stopping by and seeing what Mastercard had to offer.

Drive the Conversation with Food Truck Promotion

Food trucks are an ideal solution for brands looking to promote themselves in an unexpected and out-of-the-box way. Whether you want to test out a new market, launch a new product, raise money for a good cause, or get trending on social media, food trucks are an innovative mobile billboard for your brand. 

Gone are the days when customers would automatically come to your brick-and-mortar location. In 2020, we live in a society where the world is at our fingertips and at the touch of a button. It’s become necessary for brands to create personalized interactions in order to increase brand loyalty (and sales).

By incorporating food into experiential marketing, you can create a memorable, multi-sensory experience for consumers. So, whether you’re planning your next marketing campaign or hoping to make a splash with a one-time experience, a food truck promotion is the perfect way to invite customers to fully experience all that your brand has to offer.  

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