Marketing in 2020 is very different than what it was 10 years ago. Experiential design and marketing provide companies with new and unexpected ways to immerse consumers in a brand experience. More brands are finding ways to engage audiences online and in person through transmedia storytelling, the technique of telling a single story across multiple platforms and formats.
Successful brands live far beyond traditional media channels by creating original content that’s more for entertainment than sales value, like Gatorade’s animated movie shorts, or developing immersive experiences, like how TNT Belgium brought network drama to life. Apple’s multi-billion-dollar investment in original content is having a halo effect on its formerly product-driven brand.
Smaller companies are realizing that with a little ingenuity and out-of-the-box thinking, immersive experiences are the most effective way to engage consumers because regardless of their age or background, people are drawn to new experiences.
Creating an Experience
A great example of this is Hendrick’s Gin, which created Portals to the Peculiar, a series of multi-sensory events across London that invited gin lovers to “escape the conventional” and “embrace the delectable” by sampling uniquely infused libations through “everyday portals to the peculiar.”
The first in the series was “Lesley’s Launderette” in London’s Shoreditch neighborhood, where people had to climb through what looked like a normal washing machine to arrive at a fantastical wonderland reminiscent of Alice falling through the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. The series continued with “Hendrick’s Bank” in London Bridge, where guests entered a portal to the peculiar through an ATM machine.
Portals to the Peculiar was a marketing success because the entire experience was memorable and aligned with the brand’s identity and core messaging. It drove consumer engagement and awareness, endearing those who experienced or heard about it to the promise of the curious and unique experience of drinking Hendrick’s Gin.
“With a little ingenuity and out-of-the-box thinking, immersive experiences are the most effective way to engage consumers.”
Providing A New Perspective
Experiential marketing offers a fresh way of seeing things and engages audiences in an interactive way. The best examples of experiential marketing combine art, storytelling and environment. It can take place in unexpected locations and bring to life messages and information through the use of environmental graphics, music and visuals. It takes you out of your everyday life and gets you to think differently.
Each experience can be as lighthearted or as profound as the brand intends it to be. WWF’s holographic elephant walking the streets of London brought animal conservation to life on a large scale while Amnesty International’s real-life families living in glass boxes highlighted the plight of refuges in an undeniable way, drawing attention to an important issue.
On the other end of the spectrum, T-Mobile’s Angry Birds installation was pure fun, allowing fans to play the popular game in real life. Coca-Cola’s Small World Machines offered a powerful message of human connection, linking people from different countries together.
Experiential marketing can even have a direct impact on audiences in a way that connects to a brand’s products or services. Smirnoff provided a community service for the holidays by supporting the Soho Angels to ensure everyone gets home safe from a night of partying in London’s Soho neighborhood.
While companies can spend millions of dollars on campaigns, ultimately smaller brands can have just as much impact and return on their investment if their experiential marketing plan is clearly aligned to their brand identity and allows them to tell their story in a creative and compelling way.