Live interactions with brands have been around for a long time, but increased sophistication in technology and data is ushering in a new era for brand experiences; one in which storytelling and sensory experiences are creating lasting, meaningful relationships with consumers.
An independent global study, ‘The 2017 Freeman Global Brand Experience Study’, confirms that experiences matter to marketers. It found that 59% of CMOs value brand experience for creating ongoing relationships, with nine in 10 marketers agreeing that brand experience delivers more compelling engagement with consumers.
Given that we are living in the experience generation, it’s no wonder marketers are catching on to the fact that traditional forms of advertising alone just aren’t going to cut it anymore. According to Statista, 93% of consumers claimed that live events had a larger influence on them than TV ads and further research from EventTrack shows that 98% of users feel more inclined to purchase after attending an activation.
Adam Lee, Experiential Marketing & Partnerships Manager at Barclaycard, said: “An enhanced product experience can be delivered by weaving an experience into the product or service, using immersive storytelling, focusing on core benefits, removing pain points, or even undertaking creative destruction to improve results. Setting up future memories is increasingly being incorporated into the brand experience, to help consumers curate and share these all important moments with their friends and family through the power of social media.”
Looking specifically at the shortlist within the ‘Best Campaign led by Events, Experiential or Sponsorship Activation’ category at the M&M Global Awards 2018, there is a strong indicator that brands are upping their game in reinventing the live experience, and in almost all cases, social media/content amplification is proving essential in extending that experience to a wider audience.
The brands and agencies featured on the shortlist gave us some interesting examples of how to experiment with things like innovative sensations and even wearables to establish greater engagement, with many getting themselves behind a greater cause or something that people care about.
“It was clear that brands are aiming at creating experiences around their audiences, getting closer to them be it through physical proximity or through direct messaging (e.g. Digital/content channels),” said Rogério Colantuono, Strategy Director at Grey Group. “Brands seem to be making an effort to give people something they care about and are willing to talk about. Today people are looking to going beyond the basic brand delivery and more and more into experiences, and brands seem to be able to understand and deliver to it through these campaigns.”
A key theme across all of the entries was emotional engagement, with brands exploring a range of media (on-the-ground activations supported by OOH, print, radio, TV and digital) to create genuine connections with their audiences. From music to fashion, education to sport, environmental issues and beyond, it’s clear that the most bona fide relationships are being achieved by brands who embrace the element of ‘live’ and create experiences that add value or provide something useful and relevant to the consumer.
From music festivals to a museum, and even a local high school, the range of experiences on offer took place in various locations but one thing that remained the same was the context in which they were executed. A range of media partnerships and sponsorships enabled the most successful campaigns to add value and identity.
Brand experiences don’t just communicate – they connect. The real power of experiences comes down to authenticity. By creating experiences that are immersive, holistic and humanistic, brands can appeal to the new generation of consumers and create real relationships that will last.
We put the spotlight on two M&M Global Awards 2018 shortlisted entries, which highlight this trend:
Coca-Cola Festival Bracelet | Coca-Cola | UM | Romania
Shortlisted for: Best Campaign led by Events, Experiential or Sponsorship Activation, Best Campaign led by Ambient / Traditional Media
In Romania, where 40% of teens were yet to try Coca-Cola, the summer presented a chance to introduce Coke to a new generation. While brands flocked to event partnerships with promo contests and complicated redemption mechanisms, Coca-Cola sought to form genuine youth connections through the common language of music. Teens showcase their fashion on the go and their favourite small-sodas often become part of their outfit. Carbonated drinks are already a hallmark of teen culture, by their side as they make unforgettable summer memories.
Introducing Coca-Cola Festival Bracelet, the Coca-Cola small-bottles’ labels turned into a wearable iconic device for teens to access their summer of music. UM leveraged the powerful desire to access the best summer music events and turned it into wearable bracelets. Fashioned out of a detachable part of the Coca-Cola label on 500 mL and 750 mL bottles, these bracelets could be worn all summer long, before, during and after Romania’s most popular music events. Eight uniquely iconic designs were created, inspired by cultural teen touchstones like graffiti, music, and internet culture.
Once detached, the label provided a code to scan in a Coca-Cola app and through an instant lucky draw in-app, teens could find out if they won tickets to their favourite festivals. The cool wristbands could also unlock other surprising music experiences once worn on the wrist, like backstage meet & greets where teens could get up close and personal with the world’s hottest artists.
Viacom Velocity International & Malta Tourism Authority | MTV | Viacom Velocity International | Europe
Shortlisted for: Best Campaign led by Events, Experiential or Sponsorship Activation, Tourism, Travel & Leisure
In an increasingly competitive market for 18-25s holidays, the objective for this campaign was to drive awareness, consideration and advocacy for Malta as a destination. Viacom Velocity International did so through hosting an annual music event Isle of MTV, Europe’s largest free music festival and building a content strategy showcasing Malta to an international audience.
Knowing how integral a live music experience has become in creating a holiday experience for the MTV audience, the 2017 strategy involved building on the main event success, building out Malta Music Week – a week-long celebration of music in the run up to the main event – and create a multi-platform live social strategy to engage a wider audience beyond event attendees.
MTV curated a highly topical and anticipated line up of international talent, integrated MTV throughout the week’s events and transmitted content live on Facebook around the world, with voting mechanisms and sneak peaks backstage, plus created an exclusive Snapchat Live story.