Experiential Experiences Done Right


If an event or venue draws a large crowd you will see them there.  They are at every music festival, fair, carnivals and concerts.  And each one is vying for your attention and the hope that you too will love them as much as they love themselves.  I’m talking about brands…mobile providers, alcohol companies, energy drinks, airlines, automobiles, shoe companies, you name it they are there to entertain you, possibly sell you something or provide an experience that leaves a lasting impression. They will pay top dollar to be at the coolest events, but without a memorable experience it is all for not.  The days of logo slapping are gone.  Nobody is really going to care if you sponsor the main stage, but invite them into a lounge, braid their hair or give them a beer and a koozie and they might mingle a bit.  They might even remember you the next time they go buy their next smartphone.   

The buzz word for Marketers is experiential marketing.  Experiential Marketing is a marketing strategy that geared toward immersing customers with the brand and encourages them to participate in the evolution of the brand experience. Marketers big win is ultimately developing a relationship between the consumer and brand with an engaging and interactive activation.  

Here are a few brands that nailed it with remarkable experiences to engage potential customers. 

Citi – Global Citizen Festival

Global Citizen is a movement of engaged citizens who are using their collective voice to end extreme poverty by 2030.  Every September artist, World Leaders and festival goers come together in Central Park for the one-day Global Citizen Festival.  Presenting Sponsor, Citi, is passionate in their mission to aid the end of extreme poverty with pre-festival, advocacy-driven activations in NYC. Citi hosted an exclusive show with Mumford & Sons for cardmember’s and all ticket sales benefitted Global Citizens.  In addition, they hosted cardmembers in an eco-chic lounge during the festival where they could cool off, watch performances and indulge in catered cuisine. To top it all off Citi partnered with Live Nation to offer a VR experience that gave a behind-the-scene tour of the festival.  This first time VR production was titled “Backstage with Citi.” 

Key takeaways:

●       Start telling your story before the event. 

●       Innovative activation that they could own in addition to creating impactful shareable content.  

Frito-Lay – The Spotted Cheetah

Chetto, anyone?  How about a Cheetos-breaded fried green tomato?   Yep, you could order this delicacy as well as many other Chetto inspired delights at Frito Lays upscale New York pop-up restaurant, The Spotted Cheetah

Frito-Lay in collaboration with celebrity chef, Anne Burrell offered consumer-inspired Cheeto-infused dishes at the fancy Spotted Cheetah and several NY eateries that were available through Open-Table.  As fast as a Cheetah can run was how quickly the reservations sold-out at limited-seating restaurants.  This playful and fun activation allowed consumers to experience Cheetos in a completely different way and offered a meaningful connection to the brand among Cheeto lovers. 

Key Takeaways:

●       Influential Marketing done beautifully with the use of the energetic and fun Anne Burrell.

●       The partnership with Open Table was an added value to the experience and provided great exposure to the convenience of Open Table.

●       Use of the popular pop-up activation in a thoughtful and unique way. 

Lollapalozza - Bed Head Hotel

Every summer music lovers of all ages flock to Grant Park in Chi-town for Lollapalooza.  The line-up is always killer and the partners enhance the experience in and outside the festival grounds.  Bed Head, the popular hair care line from TIGI®, knocked it out of the park (pun intended) when they took over the Freehand Hotel in downtown Chicago.  After shrink wrapping the hotel and dubbing it the Bed Head Hotel they created experience where festies could grab a specialty drink, enjoy live music and get their hair festival-ready by top Bed Head stylists.  Of course, Bed Head products were used and available for purchase.  TIGI® made the Lolla experience event more engaging by offering something of value and entertaining to festival-goers. 

Key Takeaways:

●       Great example of taking the activation outside of the actual event and creating what can seem like a very VIP experience.

●       Created an attention-grabbing experience with shrink wrapping the hotel.

●       Provided an opportunity to experience Bed Head products first-hand. 

SXSW – Los Pollos Hermanos

If you were a Breaking Bad fan and attended SXSW 2017 then you probably visited the pop-up restaurant – Los Pollos Hermanos, one of the main settings of the popular television series.  AMC brought this iconic Albuquerque fried chicken chain to life during SXSW to promote, Better Call Saul, the spinoff series to Breaking Bad.

AMC created a buzz-worthy and interactive experience that allowed them a unique way to promote the spinoff.  By immersing attendees in the branded-experience allowed for unique shareable content and generated a trending topic on social media channels. 

Key Takeaways:

●       AMC designed an experience to get guest Instagramming, Snapping and tweeting about their activation.

●       A great example of an out-of-the-box, one-of-a-kind experiences to wow attendees. 

Jet Blue – The Ultimate Icebreaker

What could be better than promoting new direct flights from New York to Palm Springs then in the dead of winter in New York.  JetBlue in partnership with the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau enticed New Yorkers for a warmer weather destination by placing summer accessories inside an ice block and challenged them to use whatever they had on them to chip away at the ice and the prize was theirs. This unique gamification provided valuable prizes like free tickets to Palm Springs, golf clubs and beach attire.  JetBlue didn’t stop there.  They added a social media campaign and lots of brand engagement that resulted in great online buzz for the Palm Springs CVB and JetBlue.

Key Takeaways:

●       Everyone loves premium items – free stuff!  This unique gamification made New Yorkers work for it and engage a bit more time with the brand then grabbing an item and walking away.

●       Created an eye-catching spectacle that would grab the attention of New Yorkers and make them stop and take notice.

Any brand can post a Facebook ad or run an advertising campaign, but these brands immersed festival goers, consumers and city dwellers into a memorable experience that created genuine positive emotions, a bond with their brand and ultimately left a lasting impression. Winning!