Right Brain, Left Brain Blog

87 posts categorized "Experiential"

18 September 2017

Putting the people in personalisation

Personalisation is the latest weapon in the store wars, as the retail industry adapts to cater for the ‘experience economy’. Margin, for retailers and for the brands they sell, is being driven by the ability to excite and delight shoppers through retail theatre and experiential marketing.

According to research from Gartner, 89% of brands now expect to compete primarily on customer experience rather than price and product as the key brand differentiator. Meanwhile, a report from Accenture says 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer – online or offline – that recognises them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history.

Consumers shop more with retailers who recognise them as individuals and can provide relevant recommendations. They like personalisation – and today’s technology allows brands to take personalisation onto the shop floor in a way that wasn’t really possible in the past.

Look at brands like Heinz, Nutella, Coca-Cola and Marmite – they have all been able to engage with their loyal fan base through creative use of ‘personalised’ packaging. While most of these brands have made websites the core of their offerings, some, like Nutella, have taken their personalised offer in-store.

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29 August 2017

Gender stereotyping puts products before people – and consumers don’t like it!

In the past month no less than three gender-related stories have hit the national headlines. Jodie Whittaker was announced as the first ever female Dr Who, the BBC revealed its huge gender pay gap and it was refreshing to see the Advertising Standards Association (ASA) announce that it is working on tougher standards for what it called harmful gender stereotypes in advertisements.

The ASA’s stance hasn’t come a moment too soon. The issue has been bubbling under the surface since Procter & Gamble’s #unstereotyping speech at last year’s Cannes Lions festival, where the brand pledged to end gender stereotyping across its brand advertising. While this was welcomed wholeheartedly, it’s a touch ironic since P&G has done so much to promote stereotypes in its Fairy Liquid commercials, which still featured a woman washing up as late as the Noughties! Only in the 2015 version did it first show a man doing the dishes. But let’s give credit where it’s due.

Continue reading "Gender stereotyping puts products before people – and consumers don’t like it!" »

07 July 2017

Toys and gender: What’s a brand to do?

The issue of gender-neutral advertising is a very tricky one for the toy industry. For every seemingly positive story about Hamley’s and other retailers ditching the gender distinction of “girl toy” and “boy toy” aisles another counter-outrage whips up about sexist categorisation in Subway kids’ meal bags (action figures for boys, pretty wristbands for girls) or the Early Learning Centre promoting regressive play stereotypes (boys as rescuing knights, girls the rescued princesses).

In an age of alternative facts and media sensationalism it is difficult to divine actual “outrage” from manufactured versions. For every lobbying group like “Let Toys Be Toys” there is plenty of anecdotal evidence from parents who simply don’t see the issue or feel it is one to get animated about.

As a result, it is not difficult to feel sympathy for toy companies who are dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t – particularly with historical intellectual properties. When Hasbro bought out the first wave of Stars Wars toys from “The Force Awakens” movie it was hit by a #WheresRey Twitter campaign (protesting the seeming absence of a leading female character from the movie in the toy line). Given levels of hype and movie secrecy issues, not to mention toy production lead times, it’s reasonable to assume licensee toymakers may not have full access to storylines or cannot predict with absolute certainty which characters will be popular and have a life in the toy market.

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20 June 2017

Why robots won’t ever make good brand ambassadors

Westworld

Everyone’s obsessed with robots right now – and most of them haven’t got anything good to say about them, except for a small number of researchers (if that’s quite the right word) who seem to be working on robot sex toys.

Leaving sex aside for the moment, what’s really scary about robots, according to lots of experts, is that they’re going to steal our jobs.

What’s wrong with that, you ask? Robots can do all the work, and humans can party.

Great concept, but the execution is the killer – at least, if you’ve watched any movies involving robot helpers recently.

They’re usually rebelling against their human overlords, seeking to become self-aware, and wiping out the human race. Think Terminator, think Westworld, think The Stepford Wives – the list is endless. And (spoilers!) if they’re not doing it on purpose, they’re doing it by accident – like the cute droids in Dr Who the other week…

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20 March 2017

In the bleak midwinter: if you snooze, you lose!

Lots of experiential practitioners will tell you that winter can be tough – they argue that there’s not a lot of big bucks activity in our industry until the weather warms up and the daffs and snowdrops start to poke out in early Spring.

Ask most agencies, and they’ll say that their busiest times run from May until December, with peaks for school holidays, summer festivals and then the run-up to Christmas. As a result, many agencies seem to spend the cold dark months of January and February huddled around their computer screens for warmth, chasing the big jobs for when every-one comes out of hibernation…

Well, at StreetPR, we obviously never got the memo about not going out until spring arrives, because we’ve been busy busy busy since the start of 2017.

To be blunt, business doesn’t stop because the temperature’s fallen.

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13 December 2016

10 tips for a successful toy brand experience

More and more big toy industry names are taking their products out to consumers, rather than relying on standard patterns of TV advertising to leverage pester power. In part, this is down to the rise of toy brands as entertainment franchises – companies such as Hasbro, Mattel and Lego are shifting from being ‘just’ toymakers to becoming licensees, film and animation studios, and fashion houses. So today a toy brand often encompasses a whole entertainment world that is better sampled through real-life interaction and play, rather than a two-minute, redubbed American TV ad during a cartoon break on Pop TV.

So what should you bear in mind when planning a ‘real world’ experience for often fantastical brands?

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01 November 2016

Are your campaigns portable?

It’s no secret that more and more campaigns include an experiential or ‘live’ element, either as the focus or playing a key supporting role. However, many brands and agencies are not getting the most from these activations, because they are ignoring a vital factor – portability.

Brands are investing more and more in marketing in the real world because it is proving increasingly effective at engaging consumers thanks to the amplification factor through online channels, particularly social. This increases ‘portability’ – or rather extends the reach and lifespan far beyond the actual live experience.

Sounds easy. Let’s simply share the campaign online through as many social channels as possible during the ‘event’ itself and after it has taken place. However, delivering true portability isn’t that simple. The sheer act of doing this will indeed extend the reach, but it won’t necessarily make the campaign more portable. That’s because portability is all about extending not just awareness of the activation itself, but also, more importantly, ensuring the right meaning about the brand and all the messages you want to get across are carried through the various channels of ‘amplification’. And these might not necessarily just be online, but could also be through other techniques, such as word of mouth, PR, out of home and more – essentially maximising not just engagement, but also effectiveness.

Every campaign needs a portable strategy – whether experiential or not – to increase reach, but for true portability it has to be relevant to the brand rather than scattergun, and also convey consistent messaging and impact.

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13 September 2016

Why it's time to get real

It’s no secret that there’s currently a sea change taking place across marketing and advertising. The good news is that spend is up – 10.7% in the UK, according to the IPA Bellwether report for the second quarter of 2016 – and has been rising for the past three years now. More interesting is what’s driving this trend. Unsurprisingly, the main catalyst is digital marketing, with an impressive 9.8% increase in investment. Perhaps surprisingly, the main catalyst is real world marketing (events and experiential), with an impressive 13.4% increase in investment. Unsurprisingly, digital marketing follows closely behind with 10.9%, then come main media advertising (9.3%) and PR (2.3%). No other specific discipline posted increased investment.

Is this just a blip; a random quarterly leap?

No, investment in experiential marketing, as monitored through Bellwether, has been rising each quarter for over two years. Widen the research net and the sheer force behind experiential becomes astonishingly clear. According to the Pearlfinders Global Index 2016, the number of brands looking to invest in the discipline was up 40% on 2015, which itself reported a 56% rise in experiential activations over 2014. Meanwhile, 75% of brands admitted to growing their experiential budgets in the Event Magazine Power Brands Report 2016, with 50% anticipating further rises.

The Pearlfinders Global Index summed up the situation well, saying: “Experiential has come a long way from the sample-driven add-on it once represented. It has become a key player within brands’ marketing communications and this growth looks set to continue.” A long way, indeed!

As to where this extra experiential spend is coming from, 66% is has transferred from other disciplines, while 34% is incremental, according to the Event Power Brands Report 2015.

“Other signs of experiential’s continued rise include the fact that, since 2012, the number of agency start-ups has exponentially grown with a disproportionate number of these within the experiential space,” says Nick Adams, co-author of Real World Ideas: A Guide to Modern Experiential Marketing and managing director at marketing agency Sense.

“There is also a clear trend in agency positionings being updated to embrace experiential activation, from Leo Burnett’s ‘Acts Not Ads’ to AMV Live Experience, JWT Live, among others. What’s more, leading marketing and advertising bodies MAA [Marketing Agencies Assocation], IPM [Institute Promotional Marketing] and ISBA now offer dedicated experiential training, an industry code of conduct is being planned and experiential award categories have doubled since 2013.”

On the radar

So how has a marketing discipline that was fighting to be recognised as such only a decade ago suddenly found itself firmly on the brand radar above most others?

A key factor is the growth of its close marketing spend running mate digital. The rise and increasing sophistication of the internet and social media has enabled live experiences to be amplified exponentially in terms of reach, hugely increasing the discipline’s cost efficiency. Meanwhile, the content is perfect for consumers’ hunger for authenticity and ‘reality’ from brands. Technology and social have also made the effectiveness of experiential easier to measure. Plus the discipline fuels word-of-mouth recommendation, creating the advocates that brands currently crave more than ever.

This is reflected in research examining experiential’s effectiveness. It topped the poll for ‘most effective marketing tactic’ with 72% of the vote in the Content Marketing Institute’s Content Marketing in the UK 2015 survey. Furthermore, when brands were asked for their top three most effective marketing mediums for the Event Magazine Power Brands 2015 report, experiential came out on top.

One brand that has significantly increased its investment in experiential recently is The Economist.

“The real world is proving to be a key space for performance brand marketing,” says Marina Haydn, the publication’s Senior Vice President, Circulation and Retail Marketing. "I'm delighted that our experiential strategy. By using our content and turning it into a real-life activation we can speak to our potential readers in a more exciting and interesting way. Experiential has been a fantastic method of not only changing brand perception, but also converting to subscription. The success is that it’s a genuine experience, people are taking it home with them and talking about it, and there’s a conversation taking place.”

Meteoric rise

As well as growing its own spend levels, there is also evidence to suggest that experiential has had a hand in maintaining digital’s position at the top.

“Experiential and digital channels are not mutually exclusive,” says Adams. “There is a popular view that the growth in experiential is contributing to the growth in digital, because: digital/social mechanics are most commonly used to amplify experiential; digital strategies allow data-capture and enable brands to create an ongoing conversation with consumers; and many brands are using experiential to create content to drive digital campaigns.”

What’s more, most of the statistics quoted above tend to be based on the more conventional definition of experiential, focused on live face-to-face interaction. By extending the discipline to encompass all ‘real world activations’ – brands creating or doing something in the real world – the growth is likely to be even more pronounced.

“As the broader definition and understanding becomes more prevalent and accepted in the market,” adds Adams. “We expect that future reports and statistics will paint an even more positive picture of experiential marketing.”

So with investment predicted to climb further and experiential increasingly placed at the heart of many campaigns, it would appear the discipline is primed to go from strength to strength.

“We’ve been tracking the meteoric rise of experiential as an effective channel in recent years,” says Mike Thorne, editor at Pearlfinders. “Buoyed by sponsors’ increasing activation budgets and better ROI tracking, the number of brands investing in this area will continue to climb through 2016. More significantly, we predict that the scope and scale of projects will also grow.”

By Ian Whiteling, freelance marketing journalist

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  • Right Brain, Left Brain sums up the dichotomy of a media business that’s constantly battling with the challenge of delivering a profit and discovering new ways to communicate to consumers. The Cream editorial team combined with a dream team of industry pioneers from around the world share their expert opinions.

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