“On Independence Day, Americans will enjoy 150 million hot dogs, enough to stretch from D.C. to L.A. more than five times.”
This past July 2nd, my family hit our town square for the weekend-long Independence Day celebration. In our sweltering two hours there, my three-year old enjoyed a pony ride, jump time in the “bouncy house” and musical and dance performances. These are all activities that rank high up on her list of fun, yet the experience she remembers the most is the Oscar Meyer “Weiner Mobile.” For her, it was the place to be. She got a look in the car, had her photo made in a hot dog cutout and took home a free keychain shaped like the “Weiner Mobile.”
I’m sure Oscar Meyer’s presence in our quaint, yet touristy town of almost 70,000 was a result of targeted event marketing for the holiday. And it was a success. They created brand awareness in our hot dog-loving child who now yells and points every time we pass their product in the grocery store. Though it seems so simple, this is experiential marketing at its finest.
The Pressure to Excel at Experiential Marketing
“Experiential marketing isn’t a tactic you move toward. It’s a mentality that needs to take over everything your brand does, says, and creates.”
If your company is just venturing into experiential marketing, or even fully versed in its execution, statements like the one above can be intimidating. Yet, it’s true. The key is to take planning piece by piece so you are strategic in your experiential marketing efforts. It’s not rocket science, as seen in the Oscar Meyer example. But your preparation should be carefully executed in order to be successful. After all, “65% of marketers are seeing a direct sales lift as the result of experiential marketing.” And your company or brand should be aiming for the same.
Take note of these three general guidelines to help you get there.
- Know your goal. Ask yourself what you want to attain through experiential marketing. Do you want to drive on-site sales, increase brand awareness or loyalty or achieve something else entirely?
- Consider your audience. Take their demographics into account. Think about what they like, where you can best reach them, etc.
- Use proven methods as your basis. Seek out experiential marketing examples that have worked for other companies and use them as your foundation. When combined with answers from guidelines 1 and 2 above, you form your own plan for success.
These three guidelines will help you nail down the ‘who,’ ‘when’ and ‘where’ of your experiential marketing campaign. They will also help shape your actions and messaging, or everything related to what your brand “does, says and creates.”
5 Experiential Marketing Examples
Here are five experiential marketing examples to inspire you and relieve the pressure of planning.
Example #1 – Get social, like Pizza Hut.
Smart marketers are maximizing ROI and ROE by extending influence of their experiential marketing efforts beyond their physical audience. They’re implementing measures to ensure attendees use social media to create brand awareness and FOMO (or Fear of Missing Out). Pizza Hut is one great example.
During the 2015 football season, brand ambassadors promoted the company as the official pizza sponsor of “ESPN College GameDay.” These professionals got fans in the Pizza Hut tent to not only enjoy a free slice of pizza. But they drove participation in a fun activity to reach far and wide. Visitors had the opportunity to create a sign on Pizza Hut-branded paddles to hold up during the “GameDay” telecast. They were also asked to ‘Tweet’ a photo of their sign with #SignUpForGameDay. The most retweets scored one lucky participant free pizza for a year! Needless to say, this effort has touched thousands for Pizza Hut with minimal effort.
Example #2 – Use the momentum of other events, like Hershey.
Movie premieres, anticipated openings, sporting events and more may share your same target audience. Use the excitement of these initiatives, like the Hershey Company, to build brand awareness or loyalty.
The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio has been a much-watched and talked about event. Thirty-million people tuned into the opening ceremony alone! Knowing how much people love the games, Hershey capitalized on the anticipation by kicking off a 100-day countdown in NYC’s Times Square. Seventy-five members of Team USA came on site to get attendees excited. And brand ambassadors worked the crowd to promote the Hershey brand and direct them to the Hershey store. Some dressed in Hershey candy-themed costumes for fan photos and encouraged their posting using #OneSweetCelebration. People had fun. And Hershey drove immediate sales and increased brand loyalty within and outside of its experiential marketing initiative.
Example #3 – Create rivalry, like Nintendo.
We don’t need studies to know that people love competition, but they do in fact support this. A Psychology Today article tells us, “America is obsessed with winning at everything. Often at any cost. It translates from the war rooms to the athletic fields to the top of the corporate ladder.” It also translates to experiential marketing.
Take Nintendo, for example. Following the release of its Super Smash Bros. video game, the company wanted to generate some excitement. To make it happen, teams of the best-suited brand ambassadors—gaming enthusiasts with personality—assembled at the tailgates of six college campuses where football rivalry is high. These brand ambassadors built on the competitive spirit by giving fans the chance to contend against each other on the Wii U game. The end goal? For participants, it was to first win the game at their university, and then go on to earn the championship title for their school over the six other colleges. For Nintendo, it was to create a memorable experience that results in sales. And it was a job well done.
Example #4 – Solve a problem, like EnerPlex.
Have you heard of the term ‘nomophobia’? It’s often used to describe the fear individuals have when they lose their mobile phone or become unable to use it, such as through loss of power. It may sound silly to some, but it’s all too real for many.
EnerPlex, an Ascent Solar Technologies brand, offers portable solar-powered charging solutions. The company understands its target audiences’ pain points, and sought to help both their consumers and themselves. To do so, brand ambassadors represented EnerPlex in its own backyard of Denver, CO, as the official portable charging partner of the Denver Broncos. To raise brand awareness, they offered games, shared product demos, delivered key messages and provided free smartphone battery rentals. Without the ingenuity of EnerPlex and its brand ambassadors, imagine how many selfies, texts and social media posts could have been missed (and how much anxiety would have ensued)! It was a win-win for all.
Example #5 – Keep it simple, yet targeted, like McDonald’s.
If you follow McDonald’s, you know the Asian market is on their immediate radar year after year. While the majority of publicized campaigns are overseas, they pay great attention to their Asian friends in the U.S., too.
McDonald’s relies on multicultural brand ambassadors to celebrate Asian culture at U.S. festivals and parades. These professionals work at the McDonald’s Family Pavilion in over a dozen cities every year to help build excitement around the restaurant chain. They keep it simple but fun by providing giveaways, games with prizes and the opportunity to meet Ronald McDonald. The company proves that experiential marketing may need to be smart, but it doesn’t have to be complex!
EPS was proud to fulfill the event staffing needs and provide guidance for the experiential marketing examples above and countless more. If we can help take the guesswork out of your experiential marketing planning and execution, please request a proposal below!