The concept behind experiential marketing for a brand is to create a close connection between brand and consumer by immersing them in an exciting and ultimately memorable experience. If a brand succeeds and executes an activation well, the outcome will evoke a positive emotional feeling linking consumers and brand hopefully for years to come. Experiential is highly effective, more so than any other form of marketing. And consumers seem to see value in experiential as well with 65% of them saying that live events and product demonstrations helped them fully understand a product better than any commercial or other methods could. Here are some well-known brands that excel when it comes to executing experiential marketing campaigns.
Nike has nearly always been a brand leader when it comes to producing engaging experiences that help grow its massive brand. In early 2018 they created ‘House of Go,’ a pop-up house that celebrated the brand’s recent launch of their new ‘Epic React’ running shoe. The experience popped up in cities like Chicago, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Melbourne, and other cities around the world and featured a giant sponge area mimicking the shoe’s cushioning as well as a digital interactive art installation.
Nike Live, a members-only concept store that first launched in the summer of 2018 in LA marries physical presence with digital-savvy. Consumers can use their Nike retail app to check sizes, colors and product stock for the store. Customers can also pre-reserve shoes to try on through the app which they pick up in-store via lockers that can be opened with their phones. If you don’t have time to come into the store, you can make your purchase through the app and pick it up curbside. After the first Nike Live store proved successful, the brand incorporated elements of Nike Live into its Flagship NY store. The brand has plans to open a Nike Live store in Tokyo as well. Of the future of retail, Nike VP of Global Stores Cathy Sparks says, “At Nike what we talk a lot about is that retail is not dead, but boring retail is dead."
Any consumer who has been to an IKEA store knows that their in-store experience is a memorable one. Their ability to engage consumers of all ages visually, emotionally and tangibly is unique to the Scandinavian brand that’s been around for over 75 years. But the brand often relies on experiences outside the walls of its stores, and boy do they execute them well. Earlier this year, in order to promote the opening of IKEA’s new Greenwich store in the UK, the company created two life-sized boats modeled after the brand’s infamous Smakryp bath toy. Onlookers were able to maneuver the boats via remote control along 2 of London’s rivers to collect plastic and trash which was then upcycled into a sculpture in front of the new storefront.
Auto brands are no stranger to experiential activations as a necessary means to show-off their vehicle’s capabilities. For the Jeep brand, ’Camp Jeep’ began as a solution to a less than exciting placement at the New York Auto Show in 2003. Today, the experience has grown into an exciting meeting place for Jeep fans at auto shows around the world and has turned up at 15 countries on five continents. Camp Jeep has brought together millions of consumers by immersing them in interactive off-road experiences that demonstrate the Jeep lineup’s four-wheel-drive capabilities. Professional drivers take passengers through an indoor adventure course that show-off a vehicle’s capability scaling various obstacles, and even a flight of stairs. Each ride is approximately 5 minutes long.
Recently Jeep partnered with Wanderlust, a world leader in lifestyle yoga, for the world’s only “mindful” triathlon with legs of the race that included running, yoga, and meditation. Jeep created a lounge that was set up at Wanderlust triathlon events across 7 major European cities, offering surfset yoga, as well as test drives of the entire Jeep lineup of vehicles. The partnership helped to target women, one of the fastest-growing customer bases for Jeep.
For Adidas, experiential has also become a huge marketing tool for the brand over the last few years. Last year at ComplexCon, Adidas utilized a staff-less augmented reality app to drop new products that eliminated physical lines and claimed to be the “most fluid and democratic point-of-purchasing to date,” according to a company press release. To participate in the shopping experience, ComplexCon attendees installed the app to gain access to Adidas Originals’ augmented reality store and receive notifications on how to ‘unlock the drop.’ New products were released throughout the weekend via illuminated beacons placed throughout the venue and consumers accessed inventory in augmented reality by holding their device over the beacons to make purchases. Products were picked up via convenient self-service digital lockers that were unlocked by the app.
Another buzz-worthy product drop event in LA that Adidas sponsored was the 747 Warehouse St. event which was an immersive experience for sneaker enthusiasts. Using RFID bracelets, 18,000 attendees earned points by visiting every inch of the activation, which featured pro athletes like James Harden, Damian Lillard and JuJu Smith-Schuster. In an effort to eliminate lines, event-goers used points to enter a lottery for the opportunity to buy the latest sneakers being released. During the weekend Adidas surpassed Nike in social mentions over the two-day period.
JetBlue is well-known for transforming its terminal at New York’s JFK International Airport into a live experience for customers. This past summer during Pride week, the airline teamed up with hit VH1 show ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ to take over Terminal T5 at New York’s JFK airport. The activation featured photos from the show, a hair and makeup station, quotes from RuPaul and various visual displays. JetBlue went so far as to name their newest Airbus A320 “Shantay Blue Stay” after a famous line RuPaul is known for saying on the show.
Another memorable stunt from the brand a few years back deemed the “Icebreaker” challenge helped to promote JetBlue’s latest offering of a direct flight from NY to Palm Spring during the chillier months on the streets of NY. The brand introduced the “Icebreaker” challenge to celebrate the idea of going from a cold climate to a balmy one, and set up a gigantic block of ice dropped in Washington Square Park and Flatiron Plaza with fun vacation-themed prizes inside including flip flops, snorkel gear, even free plane tickets.
Experiential marketing has the unique ability to optimize the connections that brands establish with their consumers, something that’s become crucial as consumers call for marketing that leads to higher levels of personalization. The above brands are no stranger to the value of experiential marketing, and the successful activations described have helped to build brand awareness and interactive engagement for each brand.