Blog: We are living in an experience generation

There's something about being with a brand and physically taking part in an experience that really gets consumers to stop, listen and act, says Alec Braun, MD and creative lead at Slice.

Advances in wearable technology mean ‘stepping in’ is now becoming an integral part of an audience’s experience
Advances in wearable technology mean ‘stepping in’ is now becoming an integral part of an audience’s experience

More so than ever we’re seeing a trend toward integrating events even further into the marketing mix. Event magazine’s recent Power Brands report shows that experiential is now regarded as the most effective marketing channel for brands and 75% of them saw experiential budgets increase in the past 12 months.

This demonstrates that we are living in a world where consumers care more about how you involve them rather than simply what you tell or show them. Ultimately, live events need to be at the heart of the marketing mix - there is simply no better way to emotionally connect an audience with a brand than to be with them.

This further strengthens our belief that the best campaigns need to go beyond ATL and harness live to really make audiences stop and listen. Experiential has the power to make consumers 'step in' rather than step past. You’re more inclined to remember an experience that you’re part of than a billboard you merely walk past.

In more detail

The recent Bellwether reports go further to suggest that experiential is not going unnoticed, but brands still need to be braver and move away from the traditional to think about the more experience-focused consumer. Recently we’ve seen a movement in the evolution of OOH to try and leverage this shift:

1. In April Carlsberg famously turned one of their billboard ads into a beer tap giving away free beer to passers-by. The experiential campaign got worldwide publicity and is one of the most memorable marketing stunts of the year.

Not only did it make those who were there stop and engage with the brand, the experience triggered an overwhelmingly positive response which in turn generated enormous social and PR reach through a channel that is traditionally very one-way. Again step in, not just step past.

2. WCRS recently won Gold at Cannes Lions for their digital interactive OOH campaign for Women’s Aid. The campaign used facial-recognition technology to highlight how we can all make a difference in the fight against domestic violence. The billboard, which showed bruised models, recognised when consumers stopped to pay attention. The more people that stopped and noticed, the more the woman’s injuries healed.

3. Last month we saw a bus stop poster which evolved over time depending on how people responded to it. This artificially intelligent outdoor ad shows how media can now react to consumer emotions and change to target that specific consumer with content or messaging.

But OOH is not the only place this rapid evolution is taking place. Advances in wearable technology mean ‘stepping in’ is now becoming an integral part of an audience’s experience at many large concerts, sporting events and public experiences.

Recently, at Wimbledon, Jaguar distributed sensors to a number of spectators to measure the crowd’s sentiment, emotion and reactions. The campaign, Feel Wimbledon, used biometric watches which monitored heart rate, motion and audio levels in and around the match courts.

Using this data Jaguar was able to create an ‘emotional picture’ of the crowd atmosphere at Wimbledon – these images were then pushed out on social media and a network of video screens across the UK’s rail network. Using reactions at live events to generate this type of content is a powerful way of involving increased numbers of consumers and making them feel a part of the overall experience – whether they’re there or not.

So, whether it’s mini theatrical experiences, interactive OOH or sentiment tracking sports events it all points to one thing – consumers want to be part of a brand’s message rather than just witness it. The most memorable brands are the ones that don’t hold back in being brave and innovative in asking consumers to step in.

Comment below to let us know what you think.

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