From the Editor: Only the 'full experience' will link brands with new trends

German agency Vok Dams told last month's International Special Events Society conference of the need for brands to realise trends in order to ease navigation through experiential marketing. There was a time when targeting demographics was enough to justify scattergun sampling or 'backing and branding' sponsorship. Now it's all about the fuller experience, where the consumer plays a greater role in interacting with the brand and waves of trends are predicted early enough for product activity to be synonymously linked.

This is why agencies such as Vok Dams employ trend awareness managers on a brand's behalf. And it's the reason a brand such as Nokia will associate itself with an edgy urban music culture.

Yet riding the wave of new trends has its pitfalls. The Nokia Urban Music Festival was cut from a two-day event to a single day. Fully booked workshops on techniques for aspiring Bboys or beatboxers, plus a 16,000-strong crowd that witnessed performances from Xzibit and Will Smith, signified ticket sales were not to blame. Not being able to guarantee appearances from unreliable artistes that could make or break the brand's association with the event is a more likely explanation.

On many levels the festival was a huge success for Nokia. It infiltrated the sub-cultures of free-running sport parkour and streetball and has taken a slice of ownership in these emerging youth trends. However, an alleged sexual attack on a 15-year-old girl during the event has forced Nokia to distance itself from a cultural environment that may actually have gone over the edge.

But brands will continue to take risks to surf trends, and Nokia will again engage with music festival revellers on the Isle of Wight in June at an event featuring, among others, former heroin addict Pete Doherty.

During the summer, many brands will use experiential marketing to align themselves with emerging trends. The success rate will outweigh the risks if the consumer is engaged effectively.

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