PR and Experiential: Making marketing magic with ‘the theatre of business’

More than 240 agency staff and marketers came together to hear the ‘New Rules of Brand Engagement’ from an impressive list of speakers in Auckland on Tuesday. And with marketers increasingly trying to create memorable experiences for consumers and get the humans talking about their brands, PR and experiential are increasingly being employed to achieve those goals, as the results of  the CAANZ Marcomms Leadership Group survey shows. 

Opening speaker, Steve Kane, DDB Group’s experiential creative director, enlisted the services of acronyms and said bringing brands to life is about being BRASH—Bold, Real, Authentic, Simple and Human—in its experiential marketing choices (for example, Coca Cola’s Open Happiness truck activation. He also stressed the importance of answering to ‘TITO’—Target, Investment, Timing and desired Outcome before embarking on any campaign.

In discussing all-important measurement and achieving ROI for clients, Helen Graney, managing director of Jack Morton Worldwide, Australia, spoke instead of ROE—return on experience—and the difficulties of how to measure love for a brand, the objective of any experiential marketing campaign. She said the brand experience must deliver at every touch point and change the way people feel.

“While the industry is yet to use consistent tools, measurement must assess impact, understanding, be forward focused and, no matter what, measurement must happen.”

James Hurman, Colenso BBDO’s planning director, exemplified the power of truly integrated marketing using the highly successful Yellow campaigns to illustrate its worth. Rather than dwelling on Yellow’s considerable success, Hurman concluded that in his experience, the core success of truly successful integrated campaigns needs to come from wholly integrated agencies and clients: “Groups of equally talented people with the same agenda”.

In sharing how Gatorade re-invented itself through holistic experiential marketing following the devastating impact of the recession, keynote speaker and Kiwi expat Sarah Robb O’Hagan (president, Gatorade North America and global chief marketing officer, Pepsico) talked about the brand’s transformation. The all-American, TVC-centred brand introduced products, experiences and communities to pinpoint the brand’s target market, moving from broadcast to ‘narrowcast’ and becoming a catalyst for consumer-organised events that attracted mass media interest.

Gatorade both leveraged and shared the target market’s passion, American Football, with its ‘Replay: Fuelled by G’ campaign. With more high-impact experiential marketing planned, the company’s “watch tower”—Gatorade Mission Control—allows for 24/7 real-time responses to online conversations (e.g. Facebook/Twitter), which ensures the brand keeps delivering what its brand lovers want.

Steve Bayliss, Branded Culture Ltd (and former group GM marketing at Air New Zealand) discussed the power of theatre in business and the importance of creating a consumer-centric ‘set design’ at every brand touch point. He also espoused displaying “innovation versus novelty, strategy versus stunt”, in all aspects of experiential marketing.

“From experiences in Air New Zealand Koru lounges around the world to the airline’s successful Nothing to Hide ad campaign, all consumer experiences must stay true to the brand and bring theatre to business,” Bayliss said, calling this approach the future of experiential marketing.

Really good experiential, as Bayliss put it, is summed up by “doing it more delightfully than the previous alternatives”.  And in Helen Graney’s words, it’s the difference between selling magic, and making magic happen.

The Brand Engagement forum was organised by the CAANZ Marcomms Leadership Group and the Marketing Association, in conjunction with Buzz Channel. If you want to know more, click here to read summaries of the speakers’ addresses and check out some of the comments from the Twitter feed from the day #newrules.







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