Experiential Marketing: The Art of the Experience

“Don’t knock something unless you’ve tried it.” That’s a pretty common phrase we all know. Some of us still knock things, but there’s a good amount of us who are really open to trying things out.

I’m talking to the zip-liners, cliff divers, any-boarders (snow, street, etc.) and especially the first one’s to jump up when they hear, “I need a volunteer”.

The connection you make with anything can be strengthened by simple participation. You’re actively engaged with the subject and you’re right there in that moment. You’re not thinking about yesterday when you spilled coffee on your pants and you’re probably not thinking about what you’re going to eat for dinner in the following hours. It’s just you, that subject and the experience you’re having in that moment.

Sure traditional advertising (print, tv, radio) can give you an experience. If it tugs at your heart strings hard enough you might cry or even pick up the phone to donate. But is the experience deep enough to establish a connection with that brand? Is it enough to immerse you in that product?

Cue experiential marketing.

This form differs from traditional advertising in the sense that the main goal is to engage you beyond the page and screen. You’re supposed to experience the brand. While the page and screen engages your sight and hearing, experiential marketing looks to activate the rest of your senses. Don’t put this form in a corner of large-scale experiences either. One-size does not fit all with experiential marketing. Strategies can be as specific as individual experiences or large-scale guerilla-marketing techniques.

Altogether, the ultimate goal of experiential marketing is to establish a deeper emotional connection and memorable experience between the consumer and the brand. In doing so, marketers hope to generate stronger brand loyalty that will eventually influence consumers’ purchasing decisions in the future.

Now that you have an idea of what experiential marketing is, let’s take a look at some brands that are killing the game:

Adidas: D. Rose Jump Store

Fans in London had a unique opportunity to snag a pair of Derrick Rose’s signature sneaker for one day. Aside from meeting the NBA star, Adidas let fans experience what it’s like to fly like Rose. The shoes were free…but you had to jump as high as an NBA hoop to snag them. The experience let fans connect with the shoe more than simply wearing them. They got to experience what it was like to fly like an NBA star. Some flew like Rose, others crashed like Julian Wright. Either way, fans had a memorable experience they’ll associate with the Adidas brand forever.

Air France: Upgrade Challenge

What’s the one thing you do to pass the time before boarding your flight? Use your mobile phone. Some play games, others are on social media but we’re all in universal agreement: your phone is your right hand man (or woman) in your travels. Air France recognized this and gave their passengers a chance to make that phone-use count.

Welcome to Air France’s Upgrade Challenge. Initially, Air France invited 400 guests on their flight to Paris to compete against each other in the mobile game ‘Cloud Slicer’. The premise was simple: slice clouds for a high score, highest score gets a free upgrade to Air France’s newly improved Business Class. The game was a hit and the competition has spread to Paris flights from Singapore, Jakarta, Tokyo and Shanghai.

Bud Light: Up For Whatever

Bud Light’s Up For Whatever campaign has the unique premise that they can literally do anything for their fans. Last year we saw a normal guy share an elevator with Don Cheadle & a llama while on his way to play Ping Pong against Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. This year, we saw an unsuspecting fan immersed in a giant game of Pac Man complete with a roaring crowd of fans cheering him on. While Pac Man isn’t connected to the Bud Light brand, they’ve successfully created a brand connection that anything can happen when you drink Bud Light. Therefore, grab a Bud and be prepared for whatever might happen.

Samsung: Hearing Hands

While experiential marketing is meant to immerse you completely, how can you engage an individual who can’t use all of their senses? In an effort to help the deaf and hard of hearing community, Samsung recently opened a video call center. Their latest campaign involved a small town in Turkey and one community member, named Muharrem, who is deaf. Over the course of a month, everyone within the small town learned basic sign-language and Samsung installed numerous cameras all over the town. When the time came to roll out the campaign, Muharrem was given an unforgettable (and emotional) experience thanks to the great folks at Samsung.

Do you know of any other great brands who are taking experiential marketing to the next level? Share the good word & we could roll out a series together☺.