Rumours of some of our key clients pulling out of Mobile World Congress feel like a lifetime ago. But they weren’t, they were four tough, long, stressful weeks ago.
Our year started with huge positivity. We had the biggest pipeline of work we’d ever seen and had closed the biggest deal we’d ever worked on; with a major player at Mobile World Congress. In these last four weeks we’ve seen our pipeline and order book shattered by cancellations and the prospect of an indefinite period of uncertainty.
We’re not alone. Experiential marketing as an industry is badly bruised. Brands are not taking risks on internal events, public events are being cancelled and budgets are being cut on sponsorship and activation.
How does the industry fight back?
Experiential has always been limited by a physical presence. Is this the moment where agencies and suppliers can steer brands towards trying a new form of experiential engagement? Or is this the moment where Experiential and production agencies can win business away from traditional digital, advertising or social partners? Immersive technologies, interactive experiences and snackable content could give brands the same exposure and consumers an interchangeable experience, and so experiential agencies have a unique insight into consumer behaviour that could stand them apart in a new experience focused by the virtual world.
But like most of our experiential and production partners we aren’t thinkers and researchers, we are doers. So here are the practical ways we could help experiential agencies fight against this crisis:
Experiential agencies and brands can use this opportunity to experiment with modern, immersive, digital technologies to bring the magic of a live environment to audiences.
Our ideas can bring humans together virtually, through dynamic out-of-home concepts, or bring the spirit of experiential back to life through augmented reality experiences and virtual event environments.
Here are a few of our favorites:
VIRTUAL CROWD: For an experience that is built around brand awareness or deep touchpoints with consumers, we could build a virtual crowd experience.
The virtual crowd could appear on a public site; such as SXSWInTheCloud.com or be displayed in high footfall areas on DOOH screens.
Visitors would be directed to a url such as jointhecrowdatSXSW.com where they would be prompted to choose their location on the virtual scene and take a photo or video of themselves. Visitors could (and will) come up with humorous interactions with other visitors or the dynamic scene. Our software would remove the background on the photo, add some super cool effects and virtually add the visitor to the SXSW scene.
Visitors would be sent an instantly shareable GIF of themselves seemingly appearing next to other visitors at the cancelled event. The event organisers would be able to create a final mural of all the virtual attendees and use it as a PR and brand awareness story of combating the loss of the event environment.
VIEWING PARTY KIT: Events, sporting fixtures and tourist attractions are being forced behind closed doors, so what do the brands activating at these do now? We believe brands can offer fans the ultimate home-viewing experience through immersive technologies.
How about an AR experience that puts a live crowd on your walls or turns your tea into a plastic glass of beer? What about turning your iPad into a fanzone-style prediction game or photo experience? What about a virtual chat room where you can video chat into similar fans’ home experiences? Experiential could build a fully digital brand experience ‘kit’ for fans to download or access online.
DIGITAL SAMPLING: As the world shies away from handshakes, touching tables or even being within 1 metre of a stranger, sampling is going to struggle to have the desired impact.
Digital sampling can remove the need to hand out physical goods, make sampling a real experience, while still gaining data. Fans are told to visit a url for their chance to get their hands on a sample. Visitors then play a game such as a quiz, ‘spin to win’ or ‘tap to collect’.
Winners could get a big prize, whilst others get a voucher for a free sample.
Experiential and social media are friends, not enemies. If an event can’t happen, we can engage the same audience through social media. This is an opportunity for Experiential agencies to bring elements of social media engagement and experience into their remit.
Our ideas inspire brands to create content experiences for potential customers to use, consume and share as an alternative to live executions.
PERSONALISED VIDEO: An alternative to a live experience is a virtual one that excites, entertains and provides visitors with unique shareable content at the end of it.
Visitors could enter data via a url, interacting on Twitter or via a chatbot. Based on that data our software would create a personalised piece of content, integrating generic brand assets with users’ images, data and preferences.
Let’s say you’re a brand sponsoring the cancelled Cincinnati Open tennis tournament. You could send fans to a url where they are asked to enter their name, date of birth, favourite tennis player, hometown and a few photos of themselves.
Our software could automate a video creation which (based on their age) shows them a scene from their childhood. For example, if they were born in the 80s it would be an 80s-inspired house. Their name would appear on the door as the camera panned in to see highlights of Cincinnati from that time period. The room would show items synonymous with the state or country they were born. It’d show pictures of them on the wall, as a younger version of themselves, using our software. The video would have music playing from the era and posters on the wall of Cincinnati stars from the era. It would end with a message saying ‘We’re sorry we couldn’t create you any more new memories this year Dan, but we hope this reminds you of some of the great moments we’ve had together so far’.
Styles could be raw and humorous; optimised for Tik Tok, cartoon story style for YouTube or premium cinematography for Instagram.
INFLUENCER-LED CONTENT PRODUCTION: You’ve got the event creative and experience set up and ready to go, but you can’t bring the visitors there to experience it. Why not focus on Influencers and create some easy to consume, unique content?
With the event being cancelled, premium influencer content related to the experience is more exclusive. For example, a brand at Mobile World Congress had taken some influencers into a studio to record some unique snackable content stories around the products and experience at their stand. Content could have been launched at specific times and given visitors a exploratory journey to follow:
PASS IT ON: Experiential agencies can use their creative experience knowledge to create fun, live experiences made for social media.
For example, a brand could inspire fans to participate in a social movement. Fans would visit a url to get instructions on the videos they need to create - such as the recent ‘down, down, swipe left’ move on Tik Tok, or just passing a football. Fans would create the content through the webpage, following the instructions on screen. Our software would then stitch the content together with celebrities, influencers and other fans to give the user their own mini clip to post on social media, making them part of the movement as a whole.
Coronavirus has thrown down the gauntlet to Experiential agencies and brand teams. We believe that there is an opportunity to use digital and social concepts to change the face of brand experience for ever.
If you want to see some more of our ideas, please download a deck here. We are always up for a chat, whether it’s just to share some war stories, help validate an idea or to throw us a challenge that you’re facing. Ideas will cost you nothing.