With the rise social media, the way marketers think about experiential marketing has changed. Not long ago, the term experiential was used as a synonym for on-site promotion and often annoyingly manifested itself as a brand lurking about a car park, shopping aisle or public venue.
The fact that consumers can now publish their responses instantly to massive audiences means that brands need to be more strategic about how they incorporate experiential marketing. The experience that they offer needs to be something worth talking about.
“The power of social is allowing brands to start conversations long before there’s a live engagement with a consumer, and continue that conversation forever. That’s why social is beginning to turbocharge experiential marketing,” said Dan Hanover, editor and publisher of Event Marketer magazine in an article for the American Marketing Association. “Social and digital is helping in two ways: One, it’s allowing people to extend and amplify what they’re doing on the ground. Two, it’s allowing consumers to have a direct connection to a specific brand, and we’re finding that Facebook and Twitter are being used in very strategic ways these days.”
Here in New Zealand, this trend has also taken shape with various brands using entertaining experiential campaigns to create hype around an event or product launch.
A recent example of this would be V Energy's activities, via Colenso BBDO, at the Armageddon entertainment expo.
As part of its sponsorship of the fan-centric event, V Energy hosted an installation called V360 that gave event attendees the opportunity to create and share their own 'Matrix' style animated videos using a custom-built 360-degree camera rig.
Colenso's digital and experiential team worked with video effects specialists Beryl to create the V360 rig and social media interface.
And, as Beryl's Andrew Timms explains, this was quite a complex execution: "We used 24 Raspberry Pi computers with the Pi camera module. A custom python capture program ran on all of the Pis and was triggered via a processing application running on a Mac mini. The processing application plays out the image sequence on the big screen while generating an MP4 file for sharing.”
Footage caught by the sophisticated camera setup was instantly relayed to big screens at the event and, more importantly, to the social media accounts of participants.
The installation took up a circle of space at each of the Armageddon events in Wellington, Hamilton and most recently at Auckland, and the marketing results in each instance were impressive.
The first two events in Hamilton and Wellington resulted in over 400V360 videos being shot each day on average. Altogether 2,145 videos were created, many featuring the unique costumes Armageddon has become known for, and more than half of them being shared on social media with estimated impressions reaching 351,000.
These stats were further consolidated as the event took over Auckland from 24 to 27 October, with an additional 1,910 attendees going through the V360 experience. And 70 percent of these participants shared their videos via Facebook, leading to an estimated 312,000 further impressions.
Claire Gutzewitz, V Energy senior brand manager, applauded the reach of the campaign and said: “gamers are a key audience for V and we wanted to utilise a piece of technology that is relevant to the gaming audience, while providing them with an experience they're unlikely to have had before.”
The uniqueness of the experience when combined with the general hype around the event meant that those in attendance saw the campaign as something worth sharing, and this is something that Paul Gunn, Colenso's head of experiential and PR, says that brands need to focus on.
“It’s important that brands effectively leverage their sponsorships and V360 is a great example of how you can enhance an event and create value for the attendees and the brand.”
And if brands want to tap into the viral potential of social media, then they have to be willing to take some risks and offer a little more than samples in a car park.
Client: Frucor Beverages – V Energy
Luke Rive – Category Manager – Energy, Frucor
Becky Oliver – Assistant Brand Manager – V Engagement
Agency: Colenso BBDO
Creative Chairman: Nick Worthington
Creative Director: Matt Lawson
Head of Experiential & PR: Paul Gunn
Experiential Account Director: Lucy Grigg
BERYL – Digital production / development