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02 January 2013

Up close and personal: why brands need to provide experiences

   



By Paul Saville, Ignite

The way brands market themselves has changed. Gone are the days of relying on traditional advertising, where a brand would attempt to influence an individual to buy a certain product or service solely using the creativity of a catchy slogan and beautiful images delivered by TV, print and OOH.

With media platforms becoming more and more prolific, consumers are now more educated and less naive, and are no longer willing to accept the recommendations of a paid-for advertisement as a true reflection of a brand. What they want is to interact with a brand directly and form their own judgment.

New Era

There are an increasing number of ways that consumers can connect with brands – social media, for example, has revolutionised brand transparency, making it difficult – arguably impossible - for brands to hide behind an email address or call centre line. 

In a similar sense, the increase in experiential activity – or the ‘brand experience’ – which often goers hand-in-hand with social media, is putting a brand into the hands of its consumers, enabling them to interact and make their own judgment about it.  From shopping centre stands, mobile tours to large-scale branded music concerts and sports events – consumers now want to get up close and personal with companies before they decide to spend.

How are brands doing this? An experience must be relevant, interesting, offer something back to the consumer and most importantly, be engaging.  An example of this is a recent activity we carried out for New Era, who is best known as the official on-field cap for Major League Baseball. To coincide with the launch of the MLB World Series, we transformed the first floor of the New Era London Soho Flagship store into an authentic sideline dugout area, with a host of games and activities.

For two weeks, New Era allowed consumers to take part in video game competitions, interact with an in-store touchscreen Twitter wall and star in their own customised retro style baseball card, shared on Facebook. During the two-week activation, running sales in the store doubled, whilst the Baseball card photo booth resulted in over 21,000 Facebook impressions and over 32,238 Twitter Impressions. And not only did the activity produce great results for New Era, it also reinforced the brand’s connection to MLB to a captive UK audience.

Looking at a completely different brand, Vodafone Hungary was launching a nationwide upgrade to their 3G network and wanted to leverage the brand’s Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula One team partnership to maximise coverage and buzz around the launch. We created the 'Raise Your Game Festival', which took place over 4 days, giving consumers the opportunity to try their hand at a number of activities including; virtual water polo, driving an F1 simulator, changing the tyre on an F1 car and cycling against a race car.

The event saw 75,000 Hungarians visit the event over the first three days, whilst 250,000 attended the fourth day to watch Jenson Button raise his game by driving his F1 car through a specially created 1.6km street circuit. 2.1M people (20% of the population of Hungary!) watched the live broadcast of the event, whilst we generated over $4.49m in media coverage.

To ensure significant amplification of the event, we designed, produced and implemented a new social media registration platform – RFID Facebook Amplification, which amplified onsite activity interactions by a staggering 220%. The overall Facebook reach of the event exceeded 1.7m people worldwide.

Metrics are now measured by ‘do people remember the brand and will they spread the word?’ The future is creating evangelists to tweet, blog or forward brand messaging to their peers and this can only be achieved by creating technologically savvy brand experiences that transcend the live and digital domains - after all this is where consumers and businesses lead their lives.

It has also become increasingly important to provide the same engaging and rewarding experience at every touch point, ensuring the message is consistent across different marketing platforms and channels. More so, it is vital that every interaction is being challenged to be more personal, engaging and meaningful.

We must also think of an interactive experience as a conversation. Interactivity, therefore, is a key ingredient in building an emotional connection between a customer and a product. By allowing customers to select their brand experience based on their own interests and preferences, the experience is not only interactive, but customer focused. If the process is personally interactive and engaging, it will lead to increased customer satisfaction and ultimately an increase in brand loyalty.

   



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