Experiential as anything

In this week’s instalment of Wammo Pound and Mash, come with us on a spiritual journey as we delve into the murky yet increasingly popular realm of experiential advertising.

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Experiential advertising is a bit of a cover-all term applied to activities that engage the customer in some real-life way. The category can include guerrilla, ambient, and promotional or PR activities. But one general, fairly obvious rule is that there is some kind of experience involved, like the above example from Coke.

Youtube Video

We had Steve Kane from DDB on The Ad Show to talk about experiential and he particularly liked this campaign as he said that it didn’t need an end tag to let you know who it was for. He stated, and I think that is a very good thought, that you ought to know what it is for from the experience.

Youtube Video

If that’s the case, then the fantastically interactive work for Volkswagen actually falls down a bit. It isn’t essentially about Volkswagen or Volkswagen experiences. What they did was stage a series of actions to make things fun by turning stairs into piano keys. This drove more people to take the stairs.

They were attempting to prove that if you make something fun, more people will do it. Tune in next week when they prove water is wet – and attach the Volkswagen brand to it. Not that the work wasn’t cool – here is another nifty long bow from the campaign:

Youtube Video

Sometimes experiential can be like a public artwork or sculpture, like this wonderful local work for the Rodney District Council by Saatchi and Saatchi.

It can also take the form of one of any of a million flash mob ripoffs, like this one for H&M clothes in San Fran.

Or it can be quite technological – like this augmented reality Rock Paper Scissors game for magazine T-Post, where the shirt plays you.

Some experiential activities can be full-on events that actually accomplish something cool, like this work I did with Hadleigh Averill for Smirnoff: 350 people went to an island and planted 22,400 trees. That was an experience.

Often experiential actions are undertaken with an eye to generating media coverage, like Air New Zealand’s Cranial Billboards that, unlike the scalps, were very well covered.

So, although I’m sure people could quibble about labels and claim that some of these campaigns might fit elsewhere, it is probably safe to say that at its heart experiential is about individual interaction. Which has limited effectiveness, in that the reach could be restricted to however many individuals you could individually interact with. Thankfully (for experiential advertisers), the internet now serves to store and spread the ideas and the engagements.

That was certainly the case with the vending machine idea for Coke. While it was only experienced by a handful of people it has gone on to be viewed nearly 2.5 million times on YouTube.

In fact, Steve Kane, referring to that idea, said YouTube is like the broadcast arm of experiential. He was very entertaining, so check out his turn on The Ad Show here.

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