Blog: Be brave by stepping back

Fran Elliott, director of experiential and events at Momentum Worldwide, discusses the importance of stepping back when creating experiences, and not overdoing the idea of disruption.

Fran Elliott discusses why stepping back can create a better experience
Fran Elliott discusses why stepping back can create a better experience

Great work always disrupts, right? It always shouts the loudest to grab attention? Shifts, in the horrible parlance of our times, the paradigm?

Wrong. Sometimes truly effective experiences do something even harder: they shut up, step back and become a part of a bigger whole. It’s the difference between the brash arrogance of brand activations that appear all over things like football’s World Cup, and the quiet confidence behind creative work that supports the main campaign.

Disruption without interruption  

This distinction has been at the forefront of our minds as we’ve worked with Stella Artois on its presence at some of Britain’s biggest sporting events of the summer. When it came to planning its activity at the most iconic Grand Slam event, we asked ourselves one key question: what’s best for the brand?

The answer wasn’t crazy VR initiatives, forced-fun immersive experiences or a moving installation. It was simple: a premium bar that lets people enjoy the perfect pint without getting in the way of the sporting action. That means creating a beautiful, functional space that keeps queuing to a minimum, delivers excellent service at the bar and rewards dwell-time without insisting on it.

We know that twice as many people tell others about a bad experience rather than a good one, so it is paramount to give consumers positive experiences with our brands. At Wimbledon, that means interrupting their day as little as possible. If people walk away thinking of Stella Artois as a seamlessly integrated part of the tournament experience, we’ll have done our job.

Keeping it subtle

In 2016 at Innovation City for GSMA at the Mobile World Congress, the same thinking was put in place. In that instance, we enhanced the tech expo by introducing a space for delegates to socialise and kick back as they explored the vast floor space. Our hanger-sized venue hosted a free party that brought people together, showcasing tech in a subtle, user-focused way. The most popular devices were naturally our bar-tending robots that remembered drinks orders using NFC technology… The important thing for us was to add to MWC, not try to outshine it. And the payoff was that delegates enjoyed both the experiences and the expo even more as a result of our presence.

It goes without saying you don’t need to create large-scale, complex experiences to reach people. If done right, subtly and executed properly, not only will the content stick with your audience but your brand experience will drive consumers into telling your story authentically.

Technical simplicity 

The same goes for technology. We need to remember that although digital is now integrated into consumer’s lives, if the technology isn’t simple then they won’t be perceptive to the experience you are offering organically. The technology you are asking them to interact with must be there already.

Of course, sometimes you have to grab a megaphone and make some mother-lovin’ noise for your clients. But not always. Softly softly, catchy monkey has its place, even in an industry that’s naturally inclined to shout ‘Look at me!’

More: Event stories - Momentum Worldwide

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