Ryan FitzSimons is the founder and CEO of Gigunda Group, a full-service innovation and involvement agency dedicated to delivering unforgettable brand experiences.
Recently named the most creative shop in the United States by Promo Magazine, award-winning and breakthrough work includes Charmin's NYC Holiday Restrooms, the Altoids Anti-Love Valentine's Chocolate Pop-Up Shoppes and the Tide Mobile Laundromat for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Other clients include Starbucks, Sony, Yahoo, Microsoft, GM, Target, Wrigley and Kellogg's.
Marketing Mix chatted to Fitzsimons about experiential marketing and its role in the marketing mix ahead of his presentation at the 2nd African Experiential Marketing Summit in Johannesburg on 3 September.
FitzSimons defines experiential marketing as “the discipline of creating engaging, experience based, programmes that drive a brand message to the one to one conversation level”. He notes that in order to do this successfully, one needs to find the friction point for consumers.
He suggests asking, “What is it that our brand can do to alleviate a point of friction in the lives of our prime prospects?” Secondly, one needs to build programming based on that insight that will involve consumers in a meaningful brand experience. “Gigunda Group is really an Involvement Agency vs. Experiential,” he says. “Why? Because we find friction and use that friction insight to INVOLVE consumers in truly relevant way with the brand.”
FitzSimons believes that experiential marketing has a critical role within the traditional marketing mix. “If we look at all the vehicles available to marketers and put them in a tool box, there are some tools designed to drive mass awareness and brand acceptance,” he says. “There are other tools deigned to drive purchase. Experiential marketing is the tool that is most responsible for driving the consumer/brand fit revelation. In this day and age of over-messaging there is no more important a tool. As consumers we see thousands of messages daily - too many to effectively interpret. Without part of a marketing plan dedicated to delivering unique, one on one brand conversations, a brand misses a huge opportunity to drive overall fit with consumers and ultimately long-term growth.”
Experiential marketing is, however, best utilised as part of an integrated marketing mix. “The most successful campaigns, by far, are those that are integrated. If our experiential programmes are not reinforcing what is communicated in the mass media we have very low chances of involving consumers effectively while working to promote how a brand fits for them. Our philosophy is that a successful marketing campaign must be fully integrated across all mediums,” stresses FitzSimons.
But how does one measure an experiential event? “Every organisation and brand measures programmes differently,” explains FitzSimons. “Our programming cannot fit cleanly into a mass impression measurement system because the programme objectives change all of the time. We believe measurement should be determined by programme objective. If we are working on a programme designed to get heavy users to use more of a product why would we measure that with mass media impressions? We wouldn't. We would place greater analysis interest in how many heavy users we are able to reach and what kind of action we deliver from them. Gigunda Group has a strategic partnership with an unbiased third party vendor for ROI research data that is above and beyond standard programme ROI.”