Capturing the hearts and attention of consumers is becoming increasingly difficult through traditional advertising, as we live in a world where we can easily power down, switch off, or opt-out of seeing ads altogether. As a result, brands are having to come up with creative ways to get in front of consumers. And many are turning to experiential marketing to do it.
What is experiential marketing?
Experiential marketing is all about engaging consumers through innovative, immersive experiences. Whether it’s product sampling, pop-up events, brand activations or stunts, the aim is to engage as many human senses as possible and create a lasting impact.
Here are a few experiential campaigns that have engaged consumers and cut through the noise:
IKEA’s big sleepover
Back in 2011, a group of loyal IKEA fans started an independent group on Facebook called ‘I want to have a sleepover in IKEA’. When the group attracted 100,000 followers, the Swedish furniture brand took notice and devised a campaign that culminated in a draw that granted 100 customers their wish. The lucky winners were invited to an elaborate in-store sleepover at the Essex store, where they slept In IKEA beds, were given goodie bags, hot chocolate, snacks, eye masks and slippers, and treated to free massages. IKEA even brought in a local celebrity to read them a bedtime story.
This campaign was bang on brand: it generated interest in IKEA’s bedroom range, gave fans what they wanted, and got IKEA tons of positive coverage.
David Lloyd’s ‘Run for your Bun’ cafe
Pop-up experiences are another popular way for brands to raise brand awareness and secure precious coverage for a particular cause or product. David Lloyd, the gym and fitness brand, launched its very own pop-up café last year, which sold food and drink in exchange for exercise. Once people had ordered their lunch, they were required to do a high intensity 10-minute workout in order to receive it.
This creative campaign served as a general promotional tool for the brand, highlighting how regular exercise and nutrition should be part of a balanced and healthy lifestyle. The Central London location was deliberately chosen to target a specific audience, namely office workers, who were encouraged to work out during the day rather than stay glued to their desks.
Creativity is key when it comes to experiential marketing. You want to provide an experience that consumers want to share with their friends, family, and on their social networks. And that’s exactly what this campaign achieved. While the experience is usually brief, the impact should be long-term.
Pip & Nut’s healthy sampling
In an effort to become the nation’s favourite health food brand, Pip and Nut ran a series of pop-up ‘pipnics’ around Central London, offering early morning yoga, mindfulness colouring, and free nut butter and nut milk samples. Anyone and everyone was invited to enjoy a moment out of their busy day and try the delicious treats. The result? People engaged in a meaningful way with a brand they were unfamiliar with and enjoyed a stress-free start to their day.
Giving stuff away for free is always a winning tactic. If you don’t have a physical product to give away, anything that will get the consumer engaged can serve as a useful incentive, such as free tickets, prizes, or celebrity meet-and-greets.
Coca-Cola’s Twitter-powered vending machine
Back in 2015, fizzy drink brand Coca-Cola debuted a Twitter-powered vending machine that distributed free drinks and t-shirts at selected train stations in London. The activation asked consumers to send a happy tweet and their favourite flavour of Coca-Cola, such as Diet Coke or Coca-Cola Zero, along with the hashtag #ChooseHappiness. The vending machine then dispensed a free t-shirt matching the colour of the chosen drink, along with a refreshing bottle of Coca-Cola.
The activation drew in huge crowds, creating a big footprint on social media and word-of-mouth buzz.
Linking your experiential campaign to your social media channels is a great way to boost your online presence. The campaign also received coverage in the likes of Event magazine, Campaign live, Marketing Week and more. This was a simple but effective way of building brand awareness, while hitting thousands of thirsty commuters in the heart of the capital.
Get started with experiential marketing
Experiential marketing is a fantastic way to transform consumers into brand loyalists through hands-on, unforgettable experiences. It’s also an effective way to grab the attention of the media and influencers. Media outlets love to cover clever and creative initiatives because they’re newsworthy and interesting to audiences. The bolder you are with your campaign, the better chance you have of earning coverage.