The October 22 AMA-Los Angeles Experiential Brand Experience and Event Marketing Panel Discussion proved to be another exhilarating event! About 60 people attended, interest level was high, and the evening wrapped up with a lively audience question-answer session.
The panelists were Kara Keeley (moderator), formerly of Coca-Cola, Kelly Vaught, CMO of BeCore, who has created experiences for Red Bull and Nike, and Patrick Jong who heads up the Experiential team at the agency Giant Spoon.
The format was informal question-answer, with Kara asking about 9 questions of the two speakers. Their responses reflected personal experiences with their clients and projects, and everyone was captivated as we listened to their stories and opinions.
What is Experiential Marketing?
Both of our panelists agreed that although experiential marketing is a relatively new term, there has always been a place for brands to work with this more intimate, community experience and both had found their way organically into the field from very different backgrounds. For Kelly experiential marketing is “the most honest form of marketing there is.” Patrick added that he believes the focus on experiential has opened up “lots of different avenues to engage with consumers.”
When it comes to identifying exactly what we mean by experiential, the consensus was that there is no consensus! However, Kara asked Kelly and Patrick to give their best examples of an immersive experience is and how it works for brands.
An Immersive Experience
Kelly opened his response with an example of newly-invented escalators installed the London Underground in 1911. Apparently, people were afraid to use them, so the Underground company hired a man who was missing a leg and walked with crutches to ride the escalators in front of the patrons. After they witnessed the ease with which a one-legged man could ride the escalators, people stopped being afraid and began riding them – a more effective demonstration than any amount of written or spoken assurances of safety! His more recent example was working with Nike, who created a skate park on an old barge that reproduced old favorite skating areas that had been destroyed or built over by the city. Skaters signed up in local skate stores and soon there were people from five boroughs coming to skate and telling all their friends about it. They effectively turned their guests into ambassadors.
Patrick focused on the importance of narrative for immersive experiences, describing how his firm helped to create the BladeRunner 2049 Los Angeles in a San Diego Comic Con parking lot using a combination of VR, storytelling, and elaborate sets.
Giant Spoon created a similar project for the HBO show WestWorld at SXSW where they recreated the WestWorld setting 20 miles outside of the conference location in Austin, TX. Once there, guests were immersed in the world of the show, interacting with WestWorld actors and watching enacted scenes. They had a great time. The Experiential team mounted cameras all over, which provided content for social media and other digital outlets. The result was that the guests took to social media and organically promoted the show among their social networks. The event has since become well-known in the industry.
Moving on from some great examples, the questions turned towards the practical about how experiential marketing fits into the brand marketing mix and what KPIs the pros use to determine success.
Both Patrick and Kelly agreed that Experiential Marketing is part of the whole marketing picture, and compliments other areas. Whereas Experiential Marketing used to be an afterthought, it is now a regular component and adds another element to the brand conversation. When it comes to KPIs, Kelly said that the client largely determines their own, depending on the brand and what they want to accomplish. Patrick added that a common goal is to create a conversation and drive social media activity by creating an atmosphere for people to create their own content.
The Future of Experiential Marketing
Looking to the future, Patrick and Kelly touched on the growing trend for brands to sell tickets to their experiential events – “marketing the marketing” – which although limited right now looks set to grow. The pair also touched on the close relationship between social media and experience, with the event being just one part of the impact that can be made. With shared video, Instagram posts, and other social media, it’s becoming increasingly easy to turn audience members into ambassadors and share the experience beyond those who are physically in the space.
We’d love to hear your thoughts – what are the best examples you’ve seen? What do you think about the growing trend for selling tickets to experiential marketing events? Let us know in the comments.
* Photos by GoodHuman Photography – https://www.hellogoodhuman.com/