Every brand can launch a successful experiential marketing campaign, no matter your business size or budget. Although many of the experiences highlighted in this e-book were produced by well-known corporate brands with ginormous budgets, there are ways to draw consumers into the world of your brand without bankrupting your business. All you need is a fantastic idea and an even better plan.
To get your creative juices flowing, take a look at these ten brilliant campaigns. They range from the simple to the complex but can be riffed upon or scaled to fit your brand’s message and finances.
1. Russian Olympic Committee: Squats for a free ride
To whip up excitement for the 2013 Sochi Olympics, the Russian Olympic Committee teamed up with the Moscow metro to give them a memorable sport-themed experience (and strong thighs). The Committee equipped the Vystavochaya Station with a “squat sensor,” which allowed people to who could perform 30 squats within 2 minutes to ride the metro for free.
Why it’s effective: The idea was simple, fun, and relevant to the brand. As the Committee intended, it not only got people thinking about the games, but the strength and discipline that athletes need to be at the top of their game. It also evoked the “happiness of being active,” as the Committee hoped: it brought big smiles to the faces of those who participated, as well as those watching.
Consider this: People like contests, even if they’re just competing with themselves. Can you design an experience that allows customers to challenge themselves in a way that’s consistent with your brand message?
2. Uber & Smartwater: Portable Selfie Stations
If you’re ancillary to the fashion community, it’s hard to generate buzz about your brand during Fashion Week. But Uber and Smartwater managed it by teaming up to install Simple Booth photo booth HALOs in the back of a fleet of SUVs during New York’s Fashion Week. Thanks to the HALO’s optimized lighting, chic influencers were able to take and share plenty of selfies while tooling around town, helping create buzz on social media, while riders relished the novel experience of having an easy-to-use photo booth inside the car.
Why it’s effective: Where people are gathered together for a fun time, selfies are bound to happen. Having a photo booth where you might not expect one–like a car–enhances the experience. Not only does it take the awkward arm-stretch or selfie stick out of the equation, it’s just more fun.
Consider this: Photos are tangible proof of a great experience. Photo booths can make a valuable addition to any experiential activation, significantly boosting the possibility of social media sharing. What kind of selfie experience would be an irresistible draw for your target demographic?
3. Burger King: “Scary Clown Night”
For Halloween, Burger King offered free Whoppers to the first 500 fans who came dressed to select Burger Kings in cities in 30 countries around the world. Countless clown-garbed burger-lovers, in some cases entire families, descended upon the royal burger joint.
Why it’s effective: Clowns may be terrifying, yet it’s fun to dress up as one, especially on Halloween and especially when it means getting a free burger. The experience brought friends and families together to celebrate Halloween in a unique way and, by having them dress as clowns, –cleverly placing them in the center of the good-natured brand war between Burger King and McDonald’s. What better way to make people #TeamBurgerKing than giving them a fun way of trolling Ronald McDonald?
Consider this: A memorable experience doesn’t have to involve spending a lot of money on elaborate theatrics. How can you set the stage and offer the right enticement so that consumers will happily create the experience for themselves?
4. Kit-Kat’s Wifi-Free Zone
In Amsterdam, the iconic confectionery brand KitKat created Wifi-Free Zones in outdoor spaces by blocking all signals within a 5-meter radius of branded benches within the zone. People in need of a break could sit on the benches and chat with friends, read a book or newspaper, or just relax and be for a moment.
Why it’s effective: Today’s world is too noisy. Most people want to disconnect but don’t know how. KitKat’s Wifi-Free Zone both reminded people to take a break and gave them the space to do so. Of course, the experience also dovetails nicely with KitKat’s slogan: “Have a break…have a KitKat.”
Consider this: An experience can also be the absence of something. What pain point can your brand experience relieve for consumers?
5. Deep Spring: Coloring Book Mural
Coca-Cola’s sparkling water brand, Deep Spring, pulled off a successful stunt when it created an enormous black-and-white mural in coloring-book style. Brand ambassadors invited passers-by to help paint the mural. It attracted such a crowd that people had to wait in line to have a turn. The heart of the mural featured Deep Spring’s tagline “sip, relax, repeat” along with a branded hashtag #AllThatsNeeded. Naturally, as each participant finished painting, they received a bottle of Deep Spring.
Why it’s effective: Collective experiences can provide multi-sensorial pleasure to participants, as well as a feeling of comradery. These good feelings can spill over to the brand. In addition, the mural was extremely photographic. Consumers are likely to have a sense of pride in their contribution to its creation, heightening the chance of them taking and sharing photos on social media.
Consider this: A collective experience not only connects people with your brand, it can connect them with each other. That goodwill and sense of community can spill over toward your brand. How can your experiential activation bring people together?
6. Lean Cuisine: #WeighThis
Seeking to shift their image away from weight loss and toward healthy living, Lean Cuisine created a touching video where the brand asked real women to weigh their most meaningful accomplishments instead of their physical weight on a large scale in Grand Central Station. The brand turned the video into an experience by asking women on social media to share the ways in which they wanted to be weighed under the hashtag #WeighThis. A professional sign painter then painted 244 of the responses on mini-bathroom scales, which was turned into a massive installation at Grand Central. The campaign was so successful that it drove a 428 percent increase in brand conversation and a 33 percent increase in brand perception–and they ran out of the product.
Why it’s effective: The brand did a phenomenal job in identifying the true needs of their target audience and creating an experience that answered those needs and connected with their emotional core–without once spotlighting the product.
Consider this: People want to feel good about themselves. How can your activation help participants to see the best of themselves–or others?
7. Globetrotter: The Weather Rooms
The German outdoor clothing and equipment brand Globetrotter came up with a winning experience when it created an in-store “weather chamber” that allows customers to try on their gear under simulated weather conditions, including driving rain, storm-grain winds, and a freezer chamber with -30C temperatures (plus wind chill).
Why it’s effective: Globetrotter puts their money where their mouth is by allowing consumers to test their products on the spot, and consumers can walk away confident about their brand choice. The experience also turns the drudgery of trying on clothes into something fun, whets consumers’ appetite for their upcoming adventures, and generates plenty of word-of-mouth buzz from those trying on clothes as well as onlookers.
Consider this: An experience can strengthen trust between the consumer and the brand. How can you craft an experience that demonstrates your complete confidence in your product or service?
8. Ripples: The #stoutie
The Ripples brand, manufacturer of a specialized printer called the Ripple Maker, teamed up with the legendary beer brand Guinness to introduce their product in an experiential activation on International Stout Day in Dublin. The Ripple Maker creates images or text on top of beverages. To allow attendees to experience the product, the brand had a photographer at hand to snap pictures of attendees and send the photos through the Ripple Maker. Delighted guests enjoyed their Guinness with their own images floating atop the thick, creamy foam. These images have been shared nearly 2,000 times on Instagram under the hashtag #stoutie in the seven months since the event.
Why it’s effective: We’re used to seeing latte art these days. Beer art? Not so much. Ripples went for the extra-unique in introducing their product, making an already remarkable experience all the more memorable. Ripples also made it easy for people to notice these selfies-with-a-twist by pairing with a known brand at a high-profile event.
Consider this: How can you ratchet up the surprise factor in your activation? Teaming up with an unusual yet compatible partner can be a win for both brands.
9. Sensodyne: The Great Sensitivity Test
The toothpaste brand Sensodyne created a multi-sensorial experience when they held an enormous event in the famous Potter’s Field in London. The event had three different zones that allowed people to engage with the brand in different ways. In Zone 1, consumers could get a 10-minute sensitivity dental check with a dentist, win prizes with a “How Sensitive Are You” buzzer game, or get free samples and advice from Sensodyne Brand Reps. Zone 2 offered guests a photo opp with a 13-foot molar, strategically placed with the iconic Tower Bridge in the background. (The photos could be retrieved online after the event.) In Zone 3, participants gathered to break the Guinness Book of World Record for the largest oral hygiene session–which included live entertainment along with the lesson.
Why it’s effective: Perhaps knowing that choosing the right toothpaste doesn’t usually weigh heavily on most people’s minds, Sensodyne went all out for this activation. There was something fun and creative to arouse the curiosity and interest of almost everyone.
Consider this: An experience can have multiple facets as long as it presents a coherent message and brand identity. Might your brand or demographic require a diversity of experiential options?
10. Google: The Bay Area Impact Challenge
Any brand can donate money to charity, but it becomes a consumer experience when the brand elicits the help of the community. Google did this to great effect when they activated their Bay Area Impact Challenge Campaign. In this drive, they pledged to donate $5.5 million to non-profits in the Bay Area. Instead of simply donating the money, it asked Bay Area locals to vote on a selection of non-profits through illuminated, interactive ads placed at bus stops, food trucks, restaurants, and other places. They collected over 400,000 votes in 3-1/2 weeks.
Why it’s effective: The experience informed consumers about Google’s community outreach program in an indirect, interactive way and made a clear statement about how much Google values the actions and opinions of the local community. Moreover, by placing the ads where ordinary people could access them, the experience touched a large part of the local community.
Consider this: How can you incorporate your local community to bring your activation to life and rouse communal sentiment and loyalty?