When it comes to spreading word about a product or service, there are so many avenues to choose from. There’s traditional outbound marketing involving the tri-media (TV, radio, print), billboards; there’s digital and content marketing through social media platforms; and then there’s the kind of marketing that offers a more personal approach: event marketing.
Often times, event marketing is confused with experiential marketing because one is like a subset of the other. To lessen the confusion, let’s just put it this way: almost all experiential marketing is considered a form of event marketing, but not all event marketing is experiential in nature. But one must understand that there are also times when experiential marketing has nothing to do with a specific event.
To illustrate a point: An electronics company trying to launch a new range of energy-saving products sponsoring an Earth Day celebration is a form of event marketing. The company’s logos are emblazoned all over the place, there are posters and photo booths, collaterals and so on. People gather at an event and see what’s it about. That’s all.
Experiential marketing is when a car company that’s about to launch a new model of electric cars sponsors the same event, places its logos and posters all over the place, adds a mascot that entertains kids, and provides a model car that can also be test driven. See the difference? It’s the experience.
Anyway, here are a few of the more unconventional event marketing campaigns in the past couple of years and why they worked.
When Sony decided to launch a new line of TV’s promising more vivid color than anything the human eyes have ever seen, it sought the help of a London-based ad company, Fallon. The ad agency came up with a clever idea to catch the market’s attention: flood selected streets in San Francisco area with hundreds of thousands of colored balls launched from air cannons and heavy equipment. Of course, the streets had to be closed to not cause pandemonium. It was an ambitious approach because of the inconvenience it caused – roads being closed, six-day clean-up – but the message had been sent. The stunt undoubtedly helped Sony Bravia become a household name.
Lesson: There are times when taking the road less taken pays dividends. Many doubted the effectiveness of the campaign — more feared for public backlash – but in the end, the brave move paid off.
“Push to Add Drama”
TNT, the TV network, was trying to introduce itself in the Belgian public by launching a new kind of programming anchored on drama, because well, TNT knows drama.
Their idea? Place a red button in strategic locations in a sleepy city. But it’s not just any ordinary red button: it had a label that said “Push to Add Drama”. Those who were bold enough to push the red button were treated with scenes that were, well, so dramatic they only happened on tv: car chases, cops and robbers, fist fights, and the like.
When the smoke literally clears, a banner appears on the side of a building, saying “Your daily dose of drama. TNT.”
Lesson: Appeal to the people’s sense of curiosity. And yes, sometimes, people really do need a little drama.
Red Bull Stratos Project
Red Bull is to energy drink as Coke is to soda. It’s a brand so well known it doesn’t even have to make an effort to market itself, right? Apparently, the guys at Red Bull don’t want to rest on their laurels. Instead, they outperformed themselves by taking the word extreme – which Red Bull is also kind of synonymous with – to, um, stratospheric levels.
They undertook the Red Bull Stratos Project, wherein skydiving expert Felix Baumgartner is to jump (or realistically, free fall) from 120,000 feet in the sky and land safely.
Long story short, the event was a success: around 8 million people witness the event live, records were broken, human limits were tested like never before, and more importantly, Red Bull established itself as the most extreme of them all.
Lesson learned: The key is to make as many people feel they’re part of a historic event.
“Probably the Best Poster in the World”
Carlsberg was only planning to launch a billboard. Alas, it became a huge marketing event. How? Because it was clever.
The famous beer company unveiled a billboard – with its traditional green motif and printed with its white, unmistakable font – that said “Probably the Best Poster in the World.” It was more like a wall, really, but they made it so that a faucet came out of the wall and when you push a contraption, beer flows out. Pretty soon, people were lining one by one, getting a glass of their favorite alcoholic beverage.
Of course, everybody agreed it was the best poster in the whole wide world.
Lesson: Sometimes, a seemingly innocent idea could turn into an event by itself.
Thanksgiving Day Parade
Macy’s is probably as popular for its Thanksgiving Day Parade as its simple logo and colors. But who would have thought that Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was originally imagined by its own employees? Mind you, these employees were part of a generation of the earliest US immigrants who just wanted to celebrate thanksgiving just like how their parents celebrated it back at home. At first, it was called the “Christmas Day Parade,” even though it took place on Thanksgiving. These days, the parade is synonymous to the brand, and perhaps, thanksgiving in the US would be incomplete without it.
Lesson learned: You can’t go wrong with including history, culture, and some traditions in your event marketing strategy. Remember, you always appeal to the emotion.
“Size Does Matter”
It sounds more like a Godzilla film promotion, but actually, it’s for Levi’s jeans.
The company wanted to hype their new slogan: “Size does matter.” To do this, they hired a PR company to do a publicity stunt. It was very simple. It involved 75 single men and women who were tasked to “find their perfect match”. The women were given 5 minutes and a second (Levi’s 501. Clever, eh?) to find a pair of jeans in a huge pile and look for the perfect match for the pair among the 75 men.
It was more like a parlor game, really, but because of the underlying theme that “everyone has a perfect match”, it was a sellout.
Lesson learned: Find a theme that has a connection with your brand, turn it into a game, add some cameras and a few blogs, and voila, you have yourself a talked-about event.
These are just some examples of event and experiential marketing campaigns that left an indelible mark in the public’s eye.
Why does experiential marketing pay off, especially in this day and age? A study found out that more than a third of millennials would rather spend on a memorable experience or event rather than a desired material thing. Now, imagine the impact of a memorable event that’s free.
Have you seen or been a part of a great event marketing campaign? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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