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5 Effective Experiential Marketing Events That Elevated Brand Perception

Experiential Marketing

At its core, experiential marketing focuses less on a brand’s singular product or service and more on its overall message or mission through active consumer engagement. 

Designed to foster an emotional connection, the goal of any effective experiential marketing campaign is to facilitate a long-lasting relationship between consumer and brand. 

While almost every company employs these interactive marketing strategies in some capacity, these five brands not only enhanced brand loyalty with current customers, but elevated brand perception with memorable unique experiences that captured the emotions and senses of new audiences.

Into the “Stratos-phere”

Considered one of the most popular (and effective) experiential marketing campaigns ever, Red Bull took it’s famous slogan “… gives you wings” to the test in a seriously “out of this world” way. 

In 2012, the Austrian energy drink company sent professional skydiver Felix Baumgatner into the farthest reaches of our stratosphere to break the record for the world’s highest parachute jump (as well as become the first person to break the sound barrier in freefall), with their “Stratos” campaign.

Since its inception in 1987, Red Bull has been synonymous with extreme sports and activities. And with “Stratos,” Red Bull sought to firmly cement their ownership of that identity by pushing that concept to the limit.

Red Bull Stratos

Descending from a staggering height of 127,851 ft. at a maximum speed of nearly 840 MPH, Baumgatner’s historic jump was broadcast live on the Discovery Channel, becoming the highest-rated, non-primetime program in the network’s history, with nearly eight million viewers watching. To date, Red Bull’s video of the event on YouTube has over 46 million views. 

While the cost of “Stratos,” at $30 million, seems like a king’s ransom, it’s still a fraction of the $300 million Red Bull spends annually on marketing. With so many people watching, along with worldwide news coverage, “Stratos” not only gave Red Bull a global marketing boost, but exposed them to tens of millions of potential new consumers, and securing their position as the brand leader in all things “extreme.”

A Splash of Color with Dulux

Making paint interesting is a tough challenge. There’s a reason why the old adage, “… watching paint dry” is considered the litmus test for “something boring.” But. U.K. paint company Dulux has decided to use the power of it’s vibrant color palette to motivate and inspire. 

On a mission to “bring people together and make the world a happier, healthier place,” Dulux’s “The Color Run” is an untimed 5K run held several times a year since 2011 in major cities around the world. 

Participants start the 5K in white, but they don’t stay that way for long. Like human blank canvases, at each kilometer mark, they’re doused from head-to-toe in a different colored powder.

After the 5K run, Dulux hosts a “Finish Festival,” a celebratory gathering for all runners featuring music, dancing, activity booths, and “massive color throws” designed to create “millions of vivid color combinations.” Plus, “The Color Run” has donated $5 millon to more than 80 charities over the years. 

Aside from hosting a creating and inclusive event to build Dulux’s brand-recognition, they’ve managed to separate themselves as a fun, lively, and colorful brand in the paint industry.

A Niche Beer Boasts “Probably The Best Poster in the World”

Carlsberg may not be the most recognizable beer brand, but since 1847 they’ve boasted they’re “Probably the Best Beer in the World.”

In 2015, they set out to prove that theory with a billboard set-up along London’s famed Brick Lane that read “Probably the Best Poster in the World,” in a cheeky nod to their classic slogan. 

So, what made their “poster” so great? Well, you can’t go wrong with a billboard that dispenses free beer from a branded Carlsberg tap. 

While the experiential marketing gimmick of a “free pint” is never a bad idea if you want to attract thirsty pub crawlers on a busy street in one of the world’s biggest cities, Carlsberg’s innovative interactive introduced consumers to a niche brand they may have been previously unfamiliar with.

Lean Cuisine’s Feel Good Experiential Campaign

In an age of health and wellness (along with a lot of deceptive Photoshop edits), looking and feeling your best is difficult, even with a rising trend in body positivity. 

Lean Cuisine, the popular frozen food brand focusing on calorie-conscious meals, took a refreshing approach to “dieting” and its impact on societal views of “the dreaded scale” by asking consumers how they would prefer to be weighed.

Their #WeighThis campaign, held in the middle of New York’s Grand Central Station, allowed women to have a professional sign-painter “weigh them” based on aspects of their life they felt were most important to them, like: their compassion for others, dedication to their careers and families, how hard they worked to achieve a goal, and more.  

Devoid of any product samples of promotional teams, this experiential installation inspired participants to share their experience via a branded hashtag on social media, and broadcast to the world that beauty is much more than a number on a scale. 

Lean Cuisine’s #WeighThis campaign became a viral success with over 210 million impressions online and a 428% increase in social media mentions.

Lean Cuisine Weigh This Campagin

Louis Vuitton’s “Legendary” Partnership

Last September, Louis Vuitton announced a partnership more head-turning than anything you’d find on the catwalk. 

“League of Legends,” an online multiplayer game is the most-played PC game in the world. It’s popularity is so prevalent there’s even an annual “League of Legends World Championship,” showcasing the talents of the best players and teams from around the world. 

For that year’s winners Louis Vuitton created a case for the “League of Legends World Championship” trophy. Louis Vuitton’s bespoke truck, the first of its kind for an esports championship, featured the luxury French fashion house’s iconic branding, along with high-tech elements inspired by the “League of Legends” “universe.”

The unlikely partnership between Louis Vuitton and “League of Legends” publisher Riot Games received so much attention that a limited-edition collection (LVxLOL) designed by Louis Vuitton’s artistic director of women’s collections was released at the end of the year.

Louis Vuitton League of Legends

Elevate Your Brand’s Perception with Experiential Marketing

It’s never too late to show the world who you are. It just takes a bit creative flair and some out-of-the-box thinking. That’s why experiential marketing is the perfect way to not just sell a product, but to introduce (or re-introduce) yourself to your consumers and beyond. 

Regardless of your brand’s goals, you can elevate your brand perception with innovative strategies that engage emotionally and capture the senses and imaginations of audiences, both old and new alike.

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How Experiential Marketing Can Help Rebrand Your Image

Experiential Marketing

It’s true that almost every generation in modern times experiences the world in different ways from its predecessor. Whether it’s due to how global events shape our lives or the rapid development of technology, the world we’re born into is never the same as the one we leave. 

Companies that can effectively rebrand their image and adapt to changing times are often the ones that transcend the forward-movement of time. 

As Millennials and Get Zers dominate the consumer market, “experiences” over “legacy” is what drives them to open their wallets and spend. 

Take a look at these brands who are harnessing the ever-changing experiential landscape, and turning their businesses into enduring powerhouses.

The Age of Experience

In a 2018 study by Expedia and the Center for Generational Kinetics, 74% of Americans surveyed said they prioritize “experiences” over products and “things.” According to the report, “Baby Boomers are entering a stage where ‘less is more,’ while younger generations, particularly Millennials, are leading the charge in placing a newfound value on experiences, more than things.”

In this “experience economy” it’s all about sharing moments with family, friends, and the public at large across social media. What was once thought to be a trend, now dominates our lives online and influences our actions IRL. Last year, the Pew Research Center found that “seven-in-ten Americans use social media to connect with one another, engage with news content, share information, and entertain themselves.”

With these rapid (and sustaining) shifts in tastes and attitudes, brands have recognized that in order to have staying power and drive the cultural conversation it’s crucial to adapt to changing times and consumer appetites. 

Innovative experiential marketing can successfully both define and redefine your brand’s image as the “experience economy” continues to evolve.

12 years ago, Airbnb revolutionized the hospitality industry, essentially giving anyone the opportunity to be the next Conrad Hilton. But, fast-forward to 2020 and the home-sharing industry is flooded with alternatives like, VRBO, Flipkey, and Homestay. Even major hotel companies, like Marriott International’s Homes and Villas have launched their own home-sharing businesses. 

But, Airbnb is still just as popular and still synonymous with “home-sharing” as it was over a decade ago. Even with a net loss of $322 million between January and September of last year, the company’s revenue increased to $1.65 billion in the third-quarter of that same year. So, how were they able to (more or less) successfully adapt to an ever-increasingly competitive field?

Through an eventual partnership with Facebook back in 2016, Airbnb launched “experiences” to go-along with their home-sharing options for travelers. Celebrating its launch, six different “Airbnb Experiences” in Cape Town, Paris, L.A., Miami, Seoul, and Tokyo were broadcast on Facebook Live.

Airbnb hoped this creative marketing strategy would inspire viewers to book their own trips though the company and add-on their own unique experience. 

“As Airbnb launches a range of products that enables unique experiences around the world, it’s important that we lead change and reinvent the way we approach experiential marketing,” Aibnb’s Chief Marketing Officer Jonathan Mildenhall said at the time. “We are creating unique experiences that are lived by a few, shared by millions and encourage participation from around the globe.”

And, it looks like Airbnb’s gamble’s paying off. With over 30,000 trips booked in 2019, “Airbnb Experiences” saw a massive 295% growth as more and more travelers are redefining how they see the world through Airbnb’s ingenious rebranding strategy.

Make Your Brand Fashion-Forward

There may be no industry that adapts as continuously as the fashion industry, often leading the charge when it comes to how the rest of society evolves culturally. 

Founded in 1993, by Prada’s Miuccia Prada, Miu Miu was affectionately known as the “little sister” to Italian fashion giant Prada. But, in recent years the label has catapulted into the major leagues of Europe’s fashion scene, while still keeping its independent roots firmly planted. 

Yet, with that new prestige came the need to refresh their image. In 2018, Miu Miu unveiled a new logo at that year’s Paris Fashion Week. But, in keeping with their identity, described as “raw elegance with a youthful, maverick, and carefree soul,” Miu Miu wanted to take their rebranded logo directly to the masses. 

Last spring, featuring a branded truck showcasing their new logo parked in front of their flagship store in SoHo, Miu Miu turned heads and turned up the heat on a brisk March day to roll-out their new look. 

Handing out cups of hot chocolate with marshmallows (both branded with their new label, of course), Miu Miu engaged consumers face-to-face, by providing a meaningful experience that stayed true to their “independent and unconventional spirit.”

 

Turn Your Brand Into a Destination

If you think about it, the savviest of brands generally don’t limit their identities to one specific theme, understanding that evolving is an integral part of not only staying relevant, but staying in business. 

You can do a cursory Google search and easily find Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald’s thoughts on how he views the yoga behemoth.

“We view Lululemon as an experiential brand versus a lifestyle brand. We are going to test and learn,” he told CNBC in 2019. 

Recognizing that the “yoga” industry (online and in-store) is rife with both luxury and more affordable options in an market valued at an annual $16.8 billion globally (including, classes, clothing, equipment, and accessories), Lululemon has rebranded their image through curated experiential events. 

With brick-and-mortar stores featuring yoga studios, meditation spaces, and space for community gatherings, Lululemon hosts 4,000 events worldwide each year in an effort to immerse their target audience in the brand’s three “experience elements” of “Sweat, Growth, and Connection.”

By creating a more personalized connection between “brand” and “consumer,” Lululemon hopes that as their experiences evolve, their customers will evolve with them. By 2023, Lululemon estimates that 10% of their entire product fleet will be considered “experiential,” including yoga retreats, running clubs, and 5k marathons. 

Rebrand Your Image with Experiential Marketing

You don’t need to be a Fortune 500 company in order to rebrand your image in a successful way that resonates with consumers and strengthens brand loyalty. It’s really as simple as creating experiences your target audience will love and experiential marketing hits all the right notes. 

Times have and always will change, and the same goes with how we want to experience the world because material goods come and go, but experiences become memories that last a lifetime.

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Stay the Night: Inside Exclusive Overnight Pop-Up Experiences

Experiential Marketing

Want to create truly intimate and exclusive moments for your brand’s biggest fans?  Give it a rest and check out these creative, once-in-a-lifetime overnight pop-up experiences. 

Picture winning tickets to the Super Bowl. Or, front-row tickets to the hottest music festival of the year? Or, having the chance to be submerged in a submarine in the Caribbean? 

Sounds cool, right? Now imagine spending the night at these once-in-a-lifetime events.

The overnight pop-up experience has become a rising and wildly popular trend in experiential marketing for brands, giving consumers a heightened level of intimacy and access they’ll never forget. 

It’s no small feat to successfully execute a sleepover activation and requires long-term planning and out-of-the-box creative and strategic thinking. 

But, when done right, the rewards of an “exclusive overnight pop-up” for brands always outweigh the risks. So, let’s go inside a few experiences that created memorable and magical moments for some (very) lucky superfans. 

A “Blockbuster” Sleepover

For anyone who grew up in the ‘90s, it’s impossible to not associate your childhood with a trip to Blockbuster Video (and to always “be kind, please rewind” those VHS tapes). 

Earlier this summer, Sandi Harding, store manager of the world’s last Blockbuster store decided to open her doors to nostalgia-seekers hoping to rewind back to their past. 

In partnership with Airbnb, the Bend, Oregon Blockbuster is opening its doors to the public for a truly retro sleepover experience that’s perfect for movie-lovers. 

Just like those classic movie nights at-home, Blockbuster has recreated a ‘90s-themed living room, complete with decor from the decade, 90s-era big-screen TV, VCR, and access to the store’s entire library of tapes at guests’ disposal. 

Allowing up to four guests per reservation and encouraging groups from the same household, the Blockbuster Airbnb has taken steps to adhere to Airbnb, the CDC, and local/state COVID-19 guidelines. 

When asked how she came up with the idea of hosting an overnight pop-up at her Blockbuster, Harding explained, “With everybody being stuck at home and re-experiencing family time together, we thought it would be fun to enjoy some family time in a throwback ‘90s environment.”

So, if you’re in the Bend area, check out this “totally awesome” overnight pop-up experience and “Make it a Blockbuster night!”

An Overnight Touchdown!

If you’re an NFL fan, there’s no ticket more coveted than a trip to the Super Bowl. Earlier this year, Denise Ammon, an NFL fan and emergency room physician from New Orleans got the experience of a lifetime. 

As the lucky winner of Courtyard By Marriott Hotels’ “Super Bowl Sleepover Contest,” Ammon and three of her friends received a once-in-a-lifetime overnight pop-up experience inside Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, the home of Super Bowl LIV. 

In a stadium suite transformed into a Courtyard guest room with a view of the field and a private bar, Ammon and her friends got to watch the big game front-and-center, along with having access to exclusive Super Bowl weekend events. 

Ammon’s contest submission, which asked entrants to describe their “game-changing friendships,” featured her former fellow co-residents whom she met during her residency at a Level 1 Trauma hospital in Brooklyn, New York. 

According to Janis Milham, Senior Vice President of Marriott Marriott Classic Select Brands, “The story of Denise’s game-changing friendship is the kind of empowerment that we strive to provide our guests in achieving their personal and professional goals.”

An Insta-worthy Sleepover at Coachella

Camping at any festival isn’t the most glamorous experience for attendees. While tens of thousands of music lovers make the annual journey to Indio, California for Coachella, the popular summer music festival, the scorching desert heat and massive crowds can be demanding. 

In 2018, Marriott Rewards gave its members the chance to bid for the opportunity to enjoy a sleepover experience in one of three, luxurious, designer Yurts on the festival’s VIP Safari campgrounds. 

Made to resemble one of Marriott’s W Hotel properties in Bali, Hollywood, and Barcelona, these specially designed Yurts also featured “Sound Suites,” giving guests a truly sonic experience. 

But, this exclusive overnight activation didn’t come cheap for Coachella superfans. According to Forbes, one of the Yurts bid for 80,000 points, which totaled a whopping $38,233. 

Overnight Pop-Up Experiences are More Than a Dream

As the trend continues to grow, so does consumer demand for sleepover experiences that are more exclusive and more unconventional. 

It’s no easy feat to pull-off a magical experience that creates an unprecedented level of brand loyalty and drive the media conversation, but brands that can successfully execute exclusive, overnight pop-up events know these experiences secure a formidable place in their experiential marketing playbooks. 

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Reimagining Live Events with the “Drive-In Experience”

News

Companies are adapting to a social-distanced world by taking a retro experience and reinventing it for a new generation. 

As the U.S. heads into the fall and COVID-19 guidelines tighten, social distancing has kept the experiential marketing landscape virtual, rather than physical. But, brands and agencies have taken a popular pastime of a bygone era and brought it back into the mainstream: “the drive-in experience.”

With the interactiveness of traditional live events, combined with the necessary precautions to help keep people safe, drive-in experiences have been reinvented to create memorable moments for a new generation.

Drive-In Experience

Drive-Ins Assist The Return of Live Sports 

More than four months after being shuttered amid the COVID-19 pandemic, professional sports have started to return. Yet, a growing wave of infections in states where teams are slated to practice and play, as well players themselves, has put public plans for some pro-sports leagues on hold. 

As the sports world continues to navigate the uncharted waters of adapting public spectator events to a world where “keeping six-feet apart” is currently the norm, one professional league has utilized drive-ins as a social distancing-friendly experiential marketing tool.

Last June, to kick off the Credit Bank One Invitational in Charleston, S.C., tournament sponsor Tennis Channel hosted its first live, drive-in viewing event. In partnership with a Charleston-area theater, guests (and their cars) were invited to attend the pop-up activation. 

Prior to the drive-in, Tennis Channel put out a call-to-action on social media to local residents to RSVP for free on a first-come, first-serve basis. Tennis fans who gained entry to the event were treated to complimentary snacks, beverages, and even branded swag.

Live Sports Drive In Experience

 

By using the #CreditOneBankInvitational to boost mentions and awareness, Tennis Channel measured the pop-up’s success based on social and earned media coverage.

According to Neil Roberts, Executive Director of Marketing for Tennis Channel, the goal of hosting a live drive-in experience was to offer an alternative way for tennis fans to comfortably (and safely) watch the sport they love. 

“The drive-in experience put like-minded fans in a group setting that was almost as good as being in the stadium.”

Drive-Ins Rock the Live Music Experience

In terms of live events, probably the one that most people miss the most is the “live concert,” the most social of summertime events. Last month, U.S. events promoter Live Nation recreated the experience for current times with it’s first-ever drive-in concert experience, “Live From the Drive-In.” 

With nine shows over the course of three nights in Nashville, St. Louis, and Indianapolis, attendees were treated to performances by Brad Paisley, Nelly, Darius Rucker, and others from the comfort of their cars stationed in private, individual “tailgating zones,” which equaled the size of about a two-car garage, ensuring social distancing measures. 

With nine shows over the course of three nights in Nashville, St. Louis, and Indianapolis, attendees were treated to performances by Brad Paisley, Nelly, Darius Rucker, and others from the comfort of their cars stationed in private, individual “tailgating zones,” which equaled the size of about a two-car garage, ensuring social distancing measures. 

In an effort to truly capture the thrill of the live music experience, the shows were broadcast on theater-style LED screens and speakers. 

Tom See, President of Live Nation Venues – US Concerts, noted that drive-ins are a great way to bring people together, safely and responsibly. “Around the world, we’re seeing a real eagerness from our fans and artists to safely get back to the concert experience,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is to connect fans with artists to create those lasting memories, and we have teams around the world exploring unique ways to make that happen.” 

 

Taking Drive-Ins “Beyond the Sea”

As the throwback tradition of drive-in experiences maintain their resurgence in popularity, there are companies looking at new ways to take them even further. 

Australian entertainment and event company, Beyond Cinema revealed plans for an “aquatic movie watching” experience starting next month. Creating a floating cinema docked along the waters across 16 U.S. cities, Beyond Cinema has opened the drive-in experience to an entirely new audience.

Drive-in Movie on the Water

And, you don’t need to bring your own schooner in order to participate. By renting a mini-boat that ensures maximum distance, anyone can enjoy a late-summer evening movie right on the water.  

The company says they’ll offer a mix of classic films and new releases, announcing titles when tickets go on sale. Plus, popcorn is free for all attendees, with other snacks and drinks available for purchase. 

Drive-In Experiences Create Connections in Uncertain Times

Experiential marketing that works best is built on in-person events. In 2020, “virtual” has dominated our lexicon and our societal consciousness, but nothing compares to experiences that take consumers on a personal journey. 

That emotional connection and communication is what fosters successful brand engagement. With the reemergence of drive-ins, companies have taken an activity that reached its zenith in popularity over a half-century ago and reimagined it for the 21st century. 

Executing successful live experiences as our world continues to navigate the restrictions of COVID-19 is no easy task. But, as drive-ins show us, it’s not impossible and they have the ability to take experiential marketing to new and creative heights.

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Trust and Influence: The Power of the Brand Ambassador

Experiential Marketing

Want to build trust and gain influence with consumers that translates into sales and widening your audience. Take a look at why brand ambassadors can help leverage your reach and set your brand up for success. 

It goes without saying that the best way to experience a brand is to engage with it on a personal level and experiential marketing is uniquely designed to create genuine interactions and meaningful moments for consumers. And, brand ambassadors are the human engines that drive the conversations that make those moments possible. 

While they’re the ones on the front lines, the role of a brand ambassador is much more complex. From conveying brand messaging, to creating a direct channel for consumer feedback, and building trust and transparency in real-time, brand ambassadors play a vital role in setting up a brand for success. 

By giving your brand a boost on social media, spreading positive messages about who you are, influencing sales, and more, find out more about who brand ambassadors are, what they do, and how they can help your next experiential marketing campaign. 

Ralph Lauren Brand Ambassador

THE BRAND AMBASSADOR NEXT DOOR

There are two types of brand ambassadors. In the age of social media, “influencers” on Instagram and YouTube have become just as (if not) more recognizable than “traditional celebrities” (i.e. actors, recording artists, athletes, etc…), with their millions or tens of millions of followers, who are active and engaged on a variety of different platforms. 

More simply though, brand ambassadors are anyone hired by a company to represent their brand positively and help market to a new audience, and increase brand awareness and sales. In recent years, brands have leveraged their own employees to become effective brand ambassadors. 

Perhaps there’s no one better to showcase who you are and what you represent than those already working for you. Employees have the best insights into your brand’s culture, essence, products, services, and beyond. 

Twitter Brand Ambassador

And, their effectiveness is notable. In a 2017 survey by earned content platform Olapic, “76% of consumers believe the content that average people share is more honest than advertising from brands.” 

“That should serve as a wake-up call for brands to start exploring the use of authentic content in ads and marketing to build trust and create a more meaningful dialogue with their customers,” said Olapic co-founder Pau Sabria in an interview with Adweek

 

Finding the Right Brand Ambassador

In order to find the right brand ambassador for either your brand and/or your experiential marketing campaign, you first need to determine your objective. Is it your goal to increase social media traffic? Boost sales? Expand your target audience?

Your employees in your sales, marketing, communications, or HR departments can each serve as effective brand ambassadors in their own right, targeting a niche objective that aligns with your goals. 

But, regardless of whom you choose, make sure your brand ambassador has a vibrant network consisting of people outside your organization. Employees in sales, marketing, and management can be a great place to begin your search that’ll help maximize the most optimal bottom-line results for your brand.      

 

The Value of Brand Ambassadors

So, why should your company staff a brand ambassador instead of outsourcing the work to an outside personality? 

The more trust you earn with consumers, the more likely you are to earn their respect (and their business). And, that’s where brand ambassadors come in. The personal relationship they already have as employees of your brand can be leveraged into influencing their own networks and your consumers. That built-in connection will always be stronger than hiring a “celebrity” who’s foremost priority is getting paid. 

When your brand hosts events and activations led by your own team who are enthusiastic and engaged, that creates the perception of authenticity, which translates into credibility with consumers.

Think about it this way. Would you believe a “real person” who recommends a product or service over a paid celebrity or influencer? Having a brand ambassador dedicated to your business allows you to optimize your goals in order to translate them into success. 

 

Build Trust and Gain Influence with Brand Ambassadors

Brand ambassadors are crucial to brands’ success in 2020. As more and more consumers crave genuineness when making purchasing decisions, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year on campaigns to project exactly that. The irony is your brand already possesses the capability to promote trustworthiness with those who come to work for you each and every day.    

When you understand what brand ambassadors do, how to find the right one for your business, and why they’re so valuable, you can develop an effective experiential marketing campaign that enhances your brand reputation and turns real feelings as to who you are and what you do into real results.

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