How far we have come: Mark Pickering on the rise of experiential

As we enter another
busy summer of brand activation in New Zealand, it’s a good time to sit back
and reflect on the state of the experiential marketing industry. 

I returned from the UK
seven years ago this week. Since arriving back, I have witnessed a fledgling
experiential industry awaken and flourish into a respected marketing channel
for global brands. I have celebrated as a network of small agencies evolved
from promotions and sampling into finely tuned experiential machines capable of
strategy, creative and marketing analysis. This was the same natural
progression I had witnessed15 years ago in the UK, where experiential agencies
now sit on the roster alongside their client’s creative, digital, PR and media

As chairman of The Experiential Marketing Association of NZ (EMANZ) and a member of the CAANZ Marcomms Leadership Group (MLG), it has been exciting this
year to see the fantastic work that dedicated and experienced practitioners in
the industry have produced for their clients. Experiential agencies have taken
the delivery of brand activations to totally new levels; from creative
concepts, strategy and planning, right thought to the production and
measurement of the brand experience. 

Campaigns such as the Mountain Dew Skate
and the FJ Cruiser Top To Bottom Road Trip hit the headlines for their creativity and
effectiveness in delivering against brand objectives – winning AXIS and EFFIE
awards along the way. Other campaigns such as BCG2’s Grant’s Whisky Corner-to-Corner campaign showed how a long-term experiential
focus could prove effective for brands, this year winning an EFFIE for
sustained success. My only gripe is that the activation partners for some of
the award winning campaigns also need to be credited in awards, rather than
remain unacknowledged by their bigger partners.

Integration has been a
buzzword in the industry in 2012. We are
beginning to see experiential teams sit around the table with other agencies to
share briefs, strategy and budget from the outset, rather than being seen as an
afterthought, much as digital marketing was ten years ago. Now, experiential
agencies work with their partner agencies to plan and deliver increased
engagement, reach and frequency to campaigns.

As clients understand
the experiential medium more, so we have seen increased budgets as experiential
begins to lead the thinking for creatives and becomes the core idea. We are
lucky to be a growth channel in what continues to be a challenging climate for
other media overall. I expect this trend to continue, as it has in the UK, US
and Australia.

Experiential agencies
have also spent significant time and resource this year investing in future
talent in the industry. It takes a special kind of team to deliver a successful
activation that is risk-free, but still hits all the marketing objectives. That
is why EMANZ and MLG members select and train the best creative, strategy
and production teams to ensure that campaigns deliver for brands in the future. 

As always but
particularly in this current economic climate, ROI and measurement are the most
important factors in any marketing or media campaign. EMANZ and CAANZ MLG
agencies have worked hard in 2012 to provide tangible measurement techniques
across experiential so we can show our clients that this medium really does
change consumer perception and behaviours for the better. Recent CAANZ seminars
have showcased and discussed effective campaigns and their measurement. As an
industry we continue to research best practice and to produce clear and defined
measurement principles for our clients. 

As my colleague Megan
Clark showed in her recent article on US trends, digital and social media continue to converge to increase consumer
connections with brands. Experiential activations create unique and compelling
content for digital platforms and digital continues to amplify experiential
campaigns. This helps them to be measured and increase interactions between
consumers and brands. Definitely a huge global trend and one to watch in the
coming year. 

Globally, the Olympics were everywhere in 2012 with brand theatre on
show from the opening ceremony (for brand UK) right through to surprise and
delight moments with David Beckham in shopping centre photo booths for Adidas.
London was transformed into one giant activation piece for brands, but it
certainly showed the world the power of the experiential channel. 

My challenge to brands
and their agencies in 2013 is: use dedicated experiential agencies for
experiential briefs. If you want the best for your buck, go to the experts; go
to an experiential agency that has the dedicated thinking, skill set and
connections to not only deliver, but measure real results.

MLG continue to show how successful this media can be by promoting it as an
effective channel to market. To check the best out, research through EMANZ and
the CAANZ MLG and find the right experiential partner for you.

Have a great Christmas and
I’m sure I’ll be seeing you at a brand activation over the summer. 

About Author

Comments are closed.