In the 19th century, Defiance, a powdered milk company, struggled to penetrate a heavily saturated market. Despite advertising efforts, sales were just not picking up.
Their ads did however spark consumer inquiries on infant care. Unheard of in its time, the company founder hired a nurse to respond to each inquiry with a handwritten letter. Soon, hundreds more questions came flowing in. As public interest in Defiance’s products grew, so did its sales¹.
What can the modern marketer learn from Defiance’s story?
In one of the earliest manifestations of experiential marketing, Defiance has shown us a great example of how unique brand experiences can support a brand’s goals—by attracting new customers and anchoring user loyalty.
Defining Experiential Marketing
The essence of experiential marketing lies in forging an authentic emotional connection² between the consumer and the brand. These unique experiences allow the consumer to engage with the brand through some, if not all, of the five basic senses—touch, taste, sound, smell, and sight.
Today, experiential marketing takes on various forms including guerrilla³ and interactive⁴ campaigns.
The former often rely on the element of surprise, emotions, and provocativeness. Examples of strategies employed in guerilla marketing are large-scale flash mobs, quirky publicity stunts, and street art installations.
On the other hand, interactive campaigns focus on building direct connections with customers. Through games, interactive pop-up stores, or providing real-time product personalisation (eg. merchandise engraving), brands create opportunities for customer interaction.
“91% of consumers find their opinion of a brand improved after attending a brand activation experience.” – Event Marketer⁵
With exceptional leaps in technology, brands have also jumped on the virtual bandwagon with their interactive campaigns. These range from immersive microsite experiences to impressive augmented reality (AR) showrooms.
Experiential Marketing In Action
Brimming with unparalleled creativity, here are a few noteworthy campaigns that demonstrate the far-reaching impact of experiential marketing done right.
1) Social Swipe Campaign, MISEREOR (2020)
What is it about?
In an awareness campaign, MISEREOR6 installed digital displays at multiple airports depicting visual representations of social issues the NGO was trying to combat—a loaf of bread for world hunger, or wrists tied with rope for wrongful imprisonment. The screens were equipped with digital card readers, inviting audiences to make a donation of €2.
Upon donation, the images came to life: the bread sliced, or the hands freed. The imagery had a visceral effect, showing participants that their small donation made a real difference.
Why does it work?
The nature of the campaign gave participants the feeling that they were part of something bigger—that their small act of kindness had a tangible effect. The campaign expertly leveraged technology⁷ to immerse viewers in its story.
The interaction didn’t stop there6. Participants would later receive a thank-you note in their bank statements, with a link to turn their one-time donation into a monthly one. While the connection was forged during the experience, this follow-up action furthered it.
2) Stratos Campaign, Red Bull (2012)
What is it about?
Red Bull has always been associated with over-the-top marketing stunts. The brand raised the bar when they sent an Austrian sky-diver to the edge of the atmosphere, intending to break the world record for the highest altitude jump.⁹ With eight million people watching the event live¹⁰, the campaign made a massive leap in becoming one of the most successful marketing campaigns of all time¹¹.
Why does it work?
Although there wasn’t a tangible element to the campaign in which consumers could partake in, such feats take them vicariously into self-realisation that the human race is extraordinary.
Red Bull gained two million new subscribers in the span of 15 days¹². The key takeaway from this campaign is that brands can move beyond ROI and instead focus on generating emotional impact, as humans are intrinsically emotional creatures.
3) Speakeasy Café, Wonda Coffee (2020)
What is it about?
Closer to home, Wonda Coffee launched a mobile café¹³ camouflaged as an abandoned bus. To access the café and enjoy a free cup of coffee, consumers participated in a mini-mission to obtain a secret code. Clues were posted on Wonda Coffee’s social pages, and the café’s location was disclosed through Waze location pins. This made the immersive experience all the more exciting for consumers while increasing traffic to their socials.
Why does it work?
A recurring theme throughout all the campaigns is emotional pull. The brand understood that consumers want to break free from the humdrum of 9-5 life, and so they transformed a mundane coffee run into a fun adventure.
The shareability of the café’s interior played a role too. By creating a trendy and Instagrammable atmosphere inside a cafe accessible only to those who solve the puzzle, the brand instilled a fear of missing out among consumers. The result? Wonda Coffee gained a stellar 25% growth in sales¹⁴ over the campaign period alone.
“98% report creating digital content for the brand events they attend, with 100% sharing the content.” – Event Marketing Institute¹⁵
Back to the notion put forth at the beginning of this article: humans are emotional by nature. We prize the idea of feeling like we matter, or that we are part of something bigger than us. Good experiential marketing understands this well.
As the world grows more connected than ever, multifaceted digital and social media strategies are fundamental in amplifying the impact your experiential marketing campaign creates. Give your campaign a leg up by getting the word out through digital advertising or generate greater buzz on social media—before, during, and even after your event.
Not sure where to start? Get in touch today to elevate your next campaign with an all-around approach to both digital and social media.
- 1 Experiential Marketing | What Is It and Why Does It Work?
- 2 Embracing Experiential Connection for Consumers’ Emotional Bond
- 3 Guerilla Marketing
- 4 Boost Customer Engagement with Interactive Marketing
- 5 The Event & Experiential Marketing Industry Forecast & Best Practices Study
- 6 Misereor | Social Swipe Makes Giving a Game
- 7 The Social Swipe
- 8 What Are The Benefits of Experiential Marketing?
- 9 Red Bull | Stratos
- 10 Felix Baumgartner Jump: Record 8m Watch Live on YouTube
- 11 Redbull | The Stratosphere Campaign
- 12 7 Social Insights from the Red Bull Stratos Marketing Campaign
- 13 Wonda Coffee’s Mobile Speakeasy Café Receives a Nod from Coffee Loving Netizens
- 14 5 Firms in Malaysia That Redefined Experiential Marketing
- 15 Experiential Marketing Content Benchmarking Report