A PSA on Experiential Marketing

What happens when you see an ad on TV? Maybe you glance at it, maybe you half heartedly listen, but more realistically, you’re probably looking at your phone waiting for the commercial to pass. So as you are on your phone, what happens when you click on a link from Twitter, and a pop up ad covers the screen? Without thinking you quickly click “continue to article”. And we all know when trying to watch an online video we wait for the seconds to countdown until we can click “skip ad”.

My point? Despite the attractive audience-reach numbers that are being touted by platforms to lure advertisers, are we really being reached when we can so easily bypass? As we briefly mentioned in the last blog post, we are a generation of cord cutters – no longer confined to traditional media, we live in a world of on-demand, instant streaming, and commercial-free.

The solution? To connect with consumers in a way that forces interaction – a tactic that gives us entertainment, engagement, and (keyword) experience. Although not a new strategy, experiential marketing is quickly growing as a key implement for cleverly devised ad campaigns.

If you are not familiar with experiential marketing, here are some explanations that may help:

Experiential marketing is…

  • “messaging you can touch, feel or view in a physical space”. – Shareen Pathak
  • “what brands do in the world that get people “participating”. – Jeff Benjamin
  • “where a brand can “extend a hand” to touch and engage the consumer. -Michael Ventura
  • “any visual environment, including retail.” – Sabina Teshler

As you can see, experiential marketing doesn’t have a definitive definition; this is due to the breadth of tactics experiential marketing can include. However, to give you the best substantial definition – “Experiential marketing is a cross-media promotional activity, which encourages two-way interaction and direct physical immersion into a brand.”

The words you need to pay attention to are cross-media and immersion. Experiential marketing can dabble into categories such as interactive media, guerilla marketing, event marketing, and sponsorship. Below is a snap shot from Mosaic’s website (an agency that specializes in designing experiential marketing campaigns for brands), that give you an idea of what an experiential marketing strategy could involve.


Experiential marketing is not an entirely new concept in the marketing domain. Attack! Marketing says that the book The Experience Economy (1999) explains the importance behind the strategy. The authors of The Experience Economy say industry is more competitive and crowded; therefore, in order for brands to reach people they must provide consumers with experiences that are memorable and engaging. “Goods and services are no longer enough”. This perspective seems to be even more relevant today with technology that allows any brand to reach us directly. Furthermore, a survey from Jack Morton, a global brand experience agency, found that 79 percent of American customers “only advocate brands when [they] have had great personal experiences with them.”

In addition to this, new data shows that 78% of millennials are more inclined to become part of a brand if they have that face-to-face interaction. And as millennials, defined as those who are between the ages of 18-33, begin to dominate in most key demographic groups (somewhere between the ages 18-54), it is important for marketers to grasp how experiential is a growing necessity when targeted consumers demand interaction.

Many marketers agree that experiential marketing has become more visible and accepted over the years because of the technology that allows us to share the experience. Sabina Teshler comments in an Ad Age article, “with social media, it has become possible to justify an investment in an experience knowing that it will pay dividends when people share.” For example, for a Time Warner Experiential Campaign, the company reported 455 PR placements, and as a result of just those few hundred, 1.5 billion impressions were reached.

The ability to share and measure experiential marketing campaigns will allow for new, creative, and most importantly, personable marketing tactics. In fact, the Event Marketing Institute’s EventTrack study showed marketers spent 4.7% more in 2013 on event and experiential marketing than in 2012. So marketing people, to get your creative juices flowing, here are three EXTREMELY different experiential marketing campaigns.

North Face- Never Stop Exploring

In South Korea shoppers were shocked when the floor below them slowly started to disappear, forcing them to hang onto the rock wall “décor”. We love this tactic because of its originality and memorability.

Bud Light- Up for Whatever

It was hard not to escape the ads for Whatever, USA this summer. But in cased you missed it, Anheuser-Busch took over a town and accepted citizen applications from 1,000 people of the millennial demographic. Over three days the accepted citizens partied, watched concerts, met celebrities, and of course drank Bud Light. This event is perhaps one of the biggest, and probably most expensive, experiential marketing campaigns out there. To learn more about the campaign, and its effectiveness read Leah Swartz’s article.


Borjomi Mineral Water- Piano Vending Machine

At a Jazz Fest in Ukraine attendees could receive free Borjomi Mineral Water— if they played for it. The piano vending machine is a simple, but interactive tactic that leaves you experiencing a WOW factor. Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without the social video used to share the experience.

Devising a experiential tactic that can engage the consumer with physical, or real time, entertainment is essential in getting consumers to positivity associate and identify with your brand. Additionally, by creating events and interactions where the consumer is right in front of your brand ambassadors, it is easy to gather live, quick, and authentic information on consumer behavior – key data, especially for those launching new products or services. For more on benefits and how to measure success read this article.

As budgets for experiential grow, it will be no surprise to see and hear about increasingly noteworthy and out of the box campaigns. The returns on experiential tactics should be a well seen benefit by any brand; experiential campaigns are fueling word of mouth, driving social media feeds, and most importantly, as Converse’s Geoff Cottril recently told Adage, “No advertising campaign will get you the kind of credibility that a meaningful experience will.”

What are some cool experiential marketing campaigns you have seen? Are you a millennial? Do you agree experiential marketing is more effective than traditional marketing messages? Share with us in a comment below.

-Caroline & Savannah

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