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Trends opinion

[2014 trends] A bumpy 2014 for experiential marketing

Hold onto your seats folks because it looks like we've got a bumpy 2014 in store for the world of experiential marketing. (video)
While the activation-lead campaign hype of 2013 is not going away any time soon, we can expect greater ROI pressure from brands. Tension may arise as agencies look to find middle ground between consumer digital dependence and social consciousness vs corporate expectations on measurement and direct drives to sale. Throw in a samba-fuelled World Cup and imminent dark marketing legislation for the local drinks industry and we are left with an experiential melting pot. Without further ado...

  1. Use of experiential to communicate social credentials

    Fueled by a pervasive awareness of the conflicts between their consumerist impulses and their aspirations to be 'good', experienced consumers are increasingly wracked with guilt. The result? A growing hunger for a new kind of consumption: one free from worry (or at least with less worry) about its negative impact (while still allowing for continued indulgence). A recent global study identified 2.5 billion 'aspirational consumers' with this mindset (representing one third of the global consumer class). These consumers are defined by their love of shopping (78%), desire for responsible consumption (92%) and their trust in brands to act in the best interest of society (58%)*.

    Brands in all categories are acting to demonstrate their 'guilt-free' credentials and experiential is often a chosen medium through which to reach their desired audience. As you might expect, purveyors of all things 'happy', Coca Cola are leading the way, partnering with other companies, NGO's and governmental sectors to launch the Ekocentre - portable kiosks that deliver essentials to remote communities with a focus on clean water (see video below).

    Samsung plays on the same trend in Cape Town, launching a solar powered mobile health care truck designed to provide free healthcare to rural Africans. The truck is staffed by trained medical professionals and includes an ear, eye and blood clinic, and a dental surgery. Patients can be screened for a variety of conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and HIV.

    *(BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility, October 2013)



    Samsung Health truck: www.samsung.com/www.bdlive.co.za.

  2. Making the experience measurable

    With ever-intelligent sales analysis techniques, marketing budgets are being scrutinised more than ever before.

    Activations must look to lengthen the conversation with consumers beyond just the event and wherever possible (and relevant) culminate in a driver to the point of sale. If the objective is not to uplift sales, then measurement metrics must be considered from the outset so that a return can be clearly demonstrated to the client.

    adidas tasked Stretch with creating a mobile experience to showcase its running products, but that also drove to sales in some way. Our solution incorporated a centre-piece touch screen experience where potential customers could be shown more info about the perfect shoe, that a tech-rep had just let them try on, and then have a PDF about it emailed to them instantly. In addition, the PDF also included running tracks in their local area and automatically copied in the local sales rep who was able to follow up with the consumer and let them know if stock of the shoe was available in their local store.

    Staying on the category of footwear, quirky footwear brand Crocs showed that a sales driving mechanic could still also be balanced with a very PR-able idea when they dropped mini Crocs toys in the locality of their stores early one morning for consumers to find. Each toy had a tag and QR code attached encouraging consumers to go scan the code in store to receive a free gift or money off their next purchase.



  3. Gadgetry

    2014 will see geeks emerging from their bedrooms and back offices to enjoy the limelight as they are tasked with making the impossible possible in order to create fun and completely original experiences.

    From tweet-activated gum ball machines to promote Toyota to our own contraption that required you to complete Mexican-themed gestures in order to get a shot of Olmeca Tequila, expect to see more experiences that centre around gadgets that are often other technology that has been 'hacked' or repurposed for an alternative (and often way more fun) use.

    The 2013 OppiKoppi Festival in SA was the testing ground for the 'Beer Drone'; a GPS guided copter robot that dropped thirsty festival-goers beer by parachute on request from a phone app. What sounds like just a one-off bit of gadget related fun is in fact being taken very seriously on a global scale with both Amazon and DHL now testing their own drones for delivering small packages to select locations.



    Johannesburg Zoo recently enjoyed international PR after launching 'the world's first live tweeting badger'. By rigging the Zoo's mascot honey badger's enclosure with specially designed sensors that pick up the animals location, the device automatically triggered tweets from the Badgers personal Twitter account (obviously).



  4. Online virality

    A continued trend in 2014 will be the desire from brands to 'go viral' online. And a continued response from agencies will be 'yeah, it doesn't quite work like that'. That said, as more and more brands achieve incredible hit rates on sites like YouTube, we are seeing a pattern for what it takes to go viral - and at the core is often an original experiential idea.

    Beer companies have had a great year. Carlsberg's 'Standing up for a friend' campaign roused individuals out of bed in the early hours to come pay their friend's poker game debt. Once they had arrived with the cash they had to conquer some unsettling characters to get to the playing room before the whole scenario is eventually revealed as a stunt in front of a clapping audience and appropriate branding.



    In a similar sort of vein, Heineken staged 'Departure Roulette' at New Yorks JFK Airport, inviting travelers passing through to push a button, drop everything and fly to an unknown location to prove that 'everyman has a legendary traveller inside of him'...Marketing theory aside, the videos got over 3 million views (and counting) on YouTube.



    The important take out here is that the most successful of these viral campaigns are those that use the principles of experiential to create an experience that is designed to be consumed online (or possibly on TV). The campaigns are not about live interactions with consumers (the reality is these campaigns will often use actors). Instead, they are about creating acutely considered content that ticks the boxes to try and ensure people want to 'like' and 'share' it.

  5. Considered digital integration

    This year brings more relevance to the not-so famous saying 'if you didn't tweet about it, it didn't happen' than ever before. In 2014, if your experiential campaign isn't also generating conversation on social networks then you have simply failed to make a memorable impression on the consumer. Adding mechanics that drive to social media may be a bolt on to campaigns - this is better than nothing at all. However, the best campaigns will be those that consider the power of social media from the outset and allow it to shape the concept.

    Some great examples of brands doing just that include Nokia's UK campaign for the 'World's largest GPS', to increase awareness of the brands new GPS technology. This presence marketing effort allowed consumers to text in recommendations of local attractions and hotspots anywhere in the world. Once submitted, participant's destinations were displayed upon a moving crane-sized digital sign, complete with destination and distance to that location.



    Although a little less recent, Volkswagen took the principles of putting digital at the centre of an integrated experiential campaign with 'Street Quest', a Facebook challenge to find as many Volkswagens as possible on South African streets using Google Street View in a custom-designed gaming interface. After four weeks of game play, the grand finale then invited finalists to a live playoff through city streets in return for cash prizes worth R50,000.

    Volkswagen: Street Quest Case Study from Ogilvy & Mather South Africa on Vimeo.


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About Pete Hutchings

Pete joined Stretch in 2011 after working in experiential marketing in the UK with the likes of Cadburys, Transport For London & Coca Cola. Stretch is a specialist experiential marketing agency developing strategies and concepts for national execution. Twitter: @stretchexp Email: Web: www.stretchexp.com Facebook: facebook.com/stretchexp
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