It’s all about the experience these days: attendee experience, speaker experience, user experience, and especially experiential marketing. Experiences create connections and connections bring people back, making your event super successful.
In this article, we’ll dive deep into what experiential marketing is, how to best use brand activations for greatest effect, ways to incorporate activations on a small budget, and how to measure its ROI.
We’ll also get those creative juices flowing with 100 examples of some of the most memorable experiential marketing and brand activation examples out there. Let’s begin with a round-up of some extraordinary experiential marketing campaigns covering all types of experiential marketing and activations.
Top 10 Examples of Experiential Marketing and the Best Brand Activations
It was hard to choose but here are the top 10 great experiential marketing campaigns that really stood out from this post (click to jump straight to the example and read more):
Table of Contents
We know you’ve heard the phrase “experiential marketing” and you probably recognize it as what’s behind some amazing internet content, but what is it exactly? How do you define the experiential marketing meaning?
Experiential marketing focuses on creating an experience for the participant, which then, in turn, evokes an emotion or reaction that is memorable for them.
This memory and emotional reaction generally transfers onto the brand and establishes a positive emotional connection. It offers a win/win for both marketers/brands and participants.
Other words to describe experiential marketing or which can sometimes come under the event activation banner include:
- keyboard_arrow_right Engagement marketing
- keyboard_arrow_right Participation marketing
- keyboard_arrow_right Brand experience
- keyboard_arrow_right Guerilla marketing
- keyboard_arrow_right Experiential marketing activations
- keyboard_arrow_right Live marketing
- keyboard_arrow_right Pop-up marketing
- keyboard_arrow_right On-ground marketing
- keyboard_arrow_right Special event marketing
- keyboard_arrow_right Experiential marketing events
While some Fortune 500 companies are creating experiences that rival blockbuster movies, experiential marketing activations needn’t be costly. It merely requires a focus on creating a WOW! moment and that generally means knowing your audience’s interests and emotional hot buttons.
Intrigued? Check out what we mean with the following examples of experiential marketing campaigns. Experiential marketing: a practical guide to interactive brand experiences.
Looking for inspiration from the best examples of experiential marketing? Want to build your own experiential marketing campaign? In this section we have gathered 100 examples of experiential marketing campaigns, covering different types of experiential marketing:
10 Successful Experiential Marketing Campaigns / Brand Activation Campaigns
The following examples showcase exceptional ways to make brands more playful and approachable through inventive brand activation examples.
Giant Coloring Book: Sharpie Markers
Agency/Provider: Champagne Studios
This brand activation not only brought attention to the beautiful colors of Sharpie markers but also provided guests with a fun activity.
View this post on Instagram
EXPERIENCE: Giant Coloring Books . . . . . #champagnestudiosEXP #experience #experiential #experientialmarketing #marketing #mktg #marketingagency #brand #branded #branding #brandactivation #activation #event #events #eventprof #eventlife #meetingplanners #eventplanners #eventprod #vegas #lasvegas #stepandrepeat #photoop #photography #photographer #coloringbook #adultcoloringbook
A post shared by Champagne Studios Exp (@champagnestudios_exp) on
Agency: Invisible North
Running for 10 days in the heart of NYC's Soho, Terminal A showcased the luggage company's new foray into soft goods alongside a highlight of their core product portfolio. Each moment elevated traditional airport experiences to bring to life a 360-degree brand personality featuring a playful departures board, animated security scanners articulating product features, and a Houston Newsstand offering one-of-a-kind takeaways to enthusiastic shoppers.
Image credit: Invisible North
Social Stations Westfield NZ
The Westfield NZ mall company set up social stations across all of their properties to encourage people to have fun taking selfies with props and balloons as part of their Taste. Shop. Play. event.
View this post on Instagram
That’s a wrap! @westfieldnz #TasteShopPlay in St Luke’s, Albany & Riccarton. Over 1000 selfies generated from our Social Stations nationwide from 2 days - 12 hours live time! 👅🛍🎈S/O to our friends @luminary_group for amazing staff making things run smooth! Also the hard working smart marketing teams in the centres you know who you are - we L🍩VE YOUR WORK! #westfield #interlikefamily #shopping #OOH #Retail
A post shared by Leads|Content|Experience (@interlike_) on
Pop-up Playground GoGo Squeez
This brand appeals to its target audience kids and parents by creating a pop-up the kids will love and the parents can enjoy as well.
View this post on Instagram
@gogosqueezofficial launched this pop up playground as a way to activate their brand for its customers. The playground is a great attempt to interact with their customers on their level. Builds brand loyalty and recognition as the specialty food brand tries to build market share and it's held space in grocery stores. #popup #popupshop #popups #popupshops #popupstore #popupstores #brand #brandawareness #branding #marketing #advertising #experientialmarketing #experientialmarketing #playground #blogger #socialmediamarketing #socialmedia #popupwithgp
A post shared by Greg Parsons (@houstonmallslocalleasing) on
Say Hello Campaign Mentos
Agency/Provider: Perfetti Van Melle
In their special Say Hello branded Mentos packs, Mentos printed 22 friendly emojis on their hard-shell candies, encouraging people to get to know one another better. These sayings include “swap numbers” and “share headphones.”
View this post on Instagram
Mentos anbieten, Nummern tauschen, losschreiben - so einfach kann es sein. 😉 #sayhello #whosaysnotomentos . . #Mentossayhello #swapnumbers #nummerntauschen #smarthones #offlinetinder #takeyourchance #einfachmachen #whosaysnotomentos #wsntm #summer #connections #hallosagen #candy #tasty #amazing #goodmood #foodpic #foodie #foodart #botd #potd #goodtimes #instasweets #🍬#🍭 #sweetsofinstagram #Naschen
A post shared by Mentos Deutschland (@mentos) on
Faster 4G Internet Slide Vodafone
Experiential marketing often ties in concepts marketers want their audience to understand in an active representation of that. In this example, Vodafone is rolling out faster internet and so they added a slide next to a mall escalator for a faster experience.
Experiential marketing sometimes makes dreams come true and what little girl didn’t dream of living in a dollhouse? Mattel turned this bus stop into just that as part of its Barbie campaign.
Reduce the Bumps Nivea
Find a common ground in your marketing. Nobody likes cellulite. Most people enjoy popping bubble wrap. So what happens when you put those concepts together? You can reduce the bumps, have fun, and tie in the concept with the product.
Red Elephant Car Wash
See a need (or create one) and fill it. That’s what Red Elephant Car Wash did when they placed faux bird droppings on car windshields. Flip over the unusual business card and you have a new place to try when you get your car cleaned.
Keep Your Dog Regular Pedigree
Speaking of droppings, this campaign tied in a high fiber dog food with very handy bags to help you clean up after your pet. They made the bags accessible by placing them at a bus stop location.
10 B2B Experiential Marketing Examples
Reaching businesses over people is slightly different in experiential marketing. Businesses will want to see a little more meat. These experiential marketing activations and campaigns deliver that.
Team Summit Dish Network
Turn a bland 40,000-square foot convention center into Main Street USA connecting 13 different areas with a general theme.
“Did You Mean?” MailChimp
MailChimp had some fun with the “Did you mean?” corrections Google performs when you’re searching for something and spell it wrong. The business created funny fake companies with marketing collaterals. Who can forget FailChips, a company that markets the crushed crumbs of potato chips found at the bottom of every bag?
Software Factory CA Technologies
CA Technologies recognized that businesses need help with disruption and innovation. So they created a fun story about providing a tour of the modern software factory.
The Message GE
This experiential marketing campaign uses a media we don’t cover elsewhere in this list, the podcast. GE appeals to its tech-driven audience in this serial podcast about what else? Tech and aliens. Okay, who saw that last part coming? Still, it’s an interesting concept that kept it on top on iTunes while it was produced.
The Wolf HP
HP addresses things like cybersecurity in a Hollywood style in these movie shorts starring Christian Slater. The viewer almost forgets they are commercials. HP also created a landing page to go with this campaign.
Internet of Things World Forum Cisco
This conference is about topics involving the Internet of Things. It’s received multiple awards and is a strong example of content marketing and experiential marketing designed by Cisco.
Minds + Machines GE
Along the same lines as hosting an event as part of experiential marketing is GE’s Minds + Machines that highlights the future of the “industrial landscape” and addresses ways to bring about the “most powerful digital outcomes.”
re:Invent Conference Amazon Web Services
Amazon Web Services creates opportunities for hands-on learning, partner exchanges, and what they claim is the best party in technology.
Connected Air Inmarsat Aviation
Inmarsat Aviation sells in-flight WiFi to airlines. It’s impossible for them to pull out examples of their service when they go to visit potential customers so they did one better by bringing their service to their audience virtually. The experience illustrated what the product did and how it could help through interactive touch screens.
When Lloyd’s Register noticed an economic downturn was affecting its corporate clients and causing some of them to cancel an “unneeded” expense of their training, the company knew it had to do something and words weren’t enough. Instead, it turned to VR to show its clients the many dangers of accidents and the impacts they have on business. Seeing the effects was much more powerful for clients than simply being told training is important.
10 Experiential Marketing Interactive Brand Experiences
Warm Wishes Dry Bar
It can get chilly in the winter so this replica of a hair dryer that blows out warm air for cold passersby creates...dare we say it?…the warm and fuzzies.
Chandon created a billboard stuffed with thousands of golden balloons that gave the appearance of champagne bursting out of the bottle. It was an attention grabber.
This campaign encapsulates the fun of a destination and “seeing” oneself there. Travel Wisconsin married a funhouse mirror with popular local activities, like tubing, and placed the activity where people would be waiting, at a bus stop.
Bright Idea The Economist
The Economist does a lot of experiential marketing. This billboard is captivating in its simplicity. The bulb lights up as someone walks past, insinuating that we all have bright ideas.
Sort Your Head Out McDonald’s
This campaign used interactive McDonald’s posters on bus stops in Sweden. The idea behind them was to attract attention to a promo where you could buy a large coffee for a Euro. It was called “Sort Your Head Out” because the pieces fit together to make a closeup image of a face.
Bates Motel SXSW
A&E’s TV show Bates Motel is creepy enough but what if they offered the ultimate brand experience and let you stay overnight in one of the rooms? At SXSW a few years ago, they did just that. Several “lucky” visitors could spend the night in a replica of the set. And we never heard from them again (just kidding).
Google Home Donut Truck
Remember old milk trucks delivering fresh milk to your door? No? What about fresh donuts? That’s what Google Home did with an old H-van painted pink with a pink and white interior. The vehicle served as a pop-up donut shop promoting Google Home’s mini smart home speakers.
Healthy Drive Thru WeightWatchers
Drive thrus are so convenient but most of the food available has people choosing between their health and convenience. No one wants to make that choice so Weight Watchers created a healthy pop-up drive thru to launch its new Flex program. It shows the type of meals on the plan and since they’re made to order, diners can see how simple they are to make.
Escape the Cold with Experience Kissimmee
The balmy breezes of Florida are not a hard sell in cold, winter climates and we’ve seen a lot of campaigns aimed at such things recently. Snowmen in New York holding signs reminding people of warmer weather was a good one and so is zip lining in freezing temps. Check this out:
Next Stop Innovation Coach
This award-winning installation looks like a copper subway car complete with graffiti. But inside it’s a swanky Coach shop with clothes and purses galore.
10 Cool Experiential Marketing Ideas
These examples transfer a concept to the brand.
Cool Retro Gas Station Kylie Jenner
When Kylie Jenner launched her new line of shoes “Falcon” with Addidas, she focused on the message that they were cool (of course) and took it quite literally by reworking an old gas station along Hollywood Boulevard into her personal pop-up show space. She served spiked frozen drinks (in the old drink mixers) and showcased her sneaks in the beverage coolers.
View this post on Instagram
No other celebrity has quite embraced the pop up medium quite like @kyliejenner has. @adidasoriginals and Jenner partnered to create the "Falcon" shoe brand. The launch party was held inside an old gas station along Sunset Boulevard. The venue was rebranded in purple. The soda refrigerators were transformed into a branded shoe display. Snacks and spiked slushies were available in Falcon branded packaging. While the casual passers-by may see a dormant, vacant space, Jenner sees a much different picture of how she can take advantage of the location. #cre #cstore #commercialrealestate #marketing #sales #branding #productlaunch #popup #popups #popupshop #popupshops #popupstore #popupstores #marketing #experientialmarketing #advertising #launchparty #kyliejenner #entrepreneur #entrepreneurship #popupwithgp #blogger #blog #fashion #fashionblogger #socialmediamarketing #socialmedia
A post shared by Greg Parsons (@houstonmallslocalleasing) on
When Minnesota hosted the Super Bowl, a local company decided visitors needed a way to remember the town. They prepackaged snowballs and sold them for a dollar through a customized vending machine.
Refreshing Shower Sprite
Meet a customer need and get their attention. That’s what Sprite did when it set up pop-up showers at the beach.
Baltika Beer mounted replicas of their beer cans midway up subway car poles where riders would grab to stabilize themselves. Thus the company “forced” people to get the product in their hands.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
When the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movie was about to come out, the promotions company wanted to show people what it would be like to be a part of the film. Since no one wants a cheeseburger on the head, they created sculptures on the sidewalk to get people talking.
Oldtimer Rest Stop
Grabbing attention often involves large sizes but it also helps when you can tell people exactly what you offer without forcing them to think about it like with this oversized billboard.
This treatment helps people see what it’s like to use the product by “picturing” people in the frame of a taxi door. Passersby can enjoy live pictures.
Take a Chance or Fly Air France
This funny campaign points out that for just a little bit more you can eat dinner, enjoy champagne, and get WiFi.
Adult Playground Lawn on D Boston Seaport District
This whimsical place to play is geared at adults only and invites them to swing to their heart’s content. It was created as a temporary exhibit to bring more people down to the Seaport District.
Departure Roulette Heineken
The idea behind this challenge at JFK airport was whether travelers were brave enough to ditch their current travel plans for whatever came up on the departure roulette board. The Heineken YouTube video alone had over two million views (total).
10 Affordable Experiential Event Marketing Examples
Take a Chance Kate Spade
When Kate Spade launched its new stationery, it used an interactive wall in the St. Louis store to engage customers. The sign on the wall of brightly colored envelopes invited guests to “Take a Chance.” Suggestions like “smile at a stranger” and “have cake for breakfast” encouraged openers to try something new.
Ever dream of being a cover model? Bazaar Magazine helped passerby realize that dream with this cute photo opp. Sometimes a successful experiential marketing campaign simply allows participants to imagine what life might have been.
Curbside Delivery HEB
Outside contests can be fun especially at sporting events like this one in Austin. Not only did it advertise the new service but winners who scored the most points received gift cards to try it out.
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Toss Up Events (@tossupevents) on
“Not Vanilla” Ottawa
Ottawa Tourism held a fun day in early June by giving out free ice cream in a location in downtown Toronto. Recipients could choose from four flavors, not one of them vanilla. The campaign wanted to point out that Ottawa is many things but not vanilla.
“Ultimate Day Out” Nutella
It’s fun to imagine your ideal day. Maybe it consists of chocolate in some form. Nutella wants that to be true. They created a contest that would give someone their ultimate day out as long as they could draw it on a giant slice of bread covered with nutella.
Pop-up Playground with Target
In order to celebrate its line of baby and kids’ clothing, Target set up a pop-up playground at Pier 6 in the Brooklyn Bridge Park. Kids could enjoy themselves and parents had a pleasurable experience watching their children have fun with the brand.
Big Babol XXL Bubble Gum
Want to prove that your gum blows bigger bubbles than those others? Use a campaign that shows people just how large those bubbles can get. Wonder what happened when they popped.
No WiFi Zone KitKat
Perhaps you want your group to take a break and get back to good ole communication. KitKat did just that with its WiFi-Free hotspots. You can be assured people took notice of that campaign.
Manhole Covers Folgers Coffee
The steam that comes up from manholes was the perfect backdrop for this campaign. Folgers coffee used that steam and a cold day to create mini reminders of why everyone loves a good cup of hot coffee on a cold day.
Ride a Bike, Get a Treat
It’s amazing what people will do just to get something they could go to a store and buy. In this installation, participants could ride a bike, play a game, and get a drink from the vending machine when they accomplished the goal.
10 Impressive Experiential Marketing Events and Event Activations
Design Touch Event Tokyo
Ever see a beautiful plant and just want to touch it? You’re not the only one and in this display, visitors are encouraged to do so. When they do, a brilliant light display surprises everyone. This activation was created as part of the Design Touch Event, which is a month-long celebration of experiential elements.
Take a bleak winter day and add a bright pink playground. This is what you get. As an extra incentive to have fun, the more you play the more snow falls.
Run Club Nike
Designer: Coordination Asia
This installation in Shanghai’s Times Square changes the indoor running experience for those who participated. As they ran, their stats were displayed to everyone inside and out so that people could cheer on participants. The environment is very high tech.
Jeep Experiential Space
Not only is this fun pop-up a former shipping container but it’s also decked out on the inside to provide Jeep lovers with a variety of fun things to do including virtually test driving a Jeep and getting a feel for the Jeep lifestyle.
US Open American Express
If you’re attending the US Open, you’re a tennis fan. And as a tennis fan wouldn’t it be nice to be coached by Venus Williams? With Amex’s Super Rally Game you can be...at least virtually. Amex also provides card holders with a lounge experience and a payment band.
View this post on Instagram
It’s Opening Week of the @usopen Tennis Championships and longtime @pmk_bnc client @AmericanExpress is welcoming fans to the American Express Fan Experience! All guests are welcome to escape the heat, enjoy the space and try out the never-before-done #AR #tennis game, Super Rally. Card Members are also invited to relax in the Card Member Club and activate their Amex Band for contactless payments throughout the grounds. #AmexAmbassador @VenusWilliams stopped by the #FanExperience earlier this week to check out #SuperRally and meet some awesome fans. . . . Make sure to stop by the #AmexFanExperience, you won’t want to #USOpen without it! #AmexLife #PMKBNCBrands
A post shared by PMK•BNC (@pmk_bnc) on
Saks IT List Townhouse
This experience created for New York Fashion Week takes a traditional brownstone and decorates the interior according to this season’s hottest trends. It appears leopard print is in.
View this post on Instagram
SPOTTED 🐆 #SaksITList Townhouse pop up @harpersbazaarus x @americanexpress #SaksStyle #NYFW _ . . . . . . . #camouflage #saksitlisttownhouse #popup #popupnyc #amexlife #leopardprint #proenzaschouler #nyfw2018 #fashionweek #saks #saksfifthavenue #harpersbazaar #ss19 #fashiongram #fashionista #influencer #nycblogger #lifestyleblogger #mystyle #postitfortheaesthetic #nyc #pursuepretty #mylifeooo #wiw #ootd #voguishsoul
A post shared by ♒︎ νσgυιѕħѕσυℓ ♒︎ (@voguishsoul) on
Esurance and Puppies
Mondays stink. Esurance knows this. Following their new campaign “Surprisingly Painless,” they brought puppies to play in tents in ten cities. That’s how you bring a smile to people!
#WeighThis Lean Cuisine
Knowing that most people don’t like to be thought of only for what the scale tells, Lean Cuisine created a campaign that encouraged participants to share what they’re most proud of and want to be known for. The answers were then placed on scales and displayed.
Build a Better Bay Area Google
Crowdsourcing how donations are spent is a great way to build community and that’s exactly what Google did with the Google Impact Challenge. Google raised $5.5 million for community nonprofits and then set up mobile voting kiosks to figure out how to best spend it.
#GetTeleported Marriott Hotels
People make a lot of choices. Whenever they do it’s common to wonder where the path would have taken them if they chose another one. Marriott capitalizes on the “what ifs” of vacations with their virtual reality teleporters where participants can feel the sand beneath their toes and a host of other experiences.
10 Outrageous and Inspiring Experiential Marketing Examples
SAMCOM Anheuser-Busch InBev
Experiential marketing 2018. Go big or go home seems to be Anheuser-Busch’s model when it comes to their three-day sales conference. While they always feature experiential elements, their 2018 meeting leaned more toward immersive experience. First, they held an opening parade down Bourbon Street. In its immersion zone, the company featured each of its brands. Each brand included an activation. For instance, Bud Light World featured a moment with the king and queen of their “Dilly Dilly” campaign.
Climbing Wall Ikea
When Ikea opened its new store in Clermont-Ferrand, people celebrated by literally climbing the wall. The wall was a replica of an apartment turned vertical.
Apple Optical Shop Window
Pictures can say it all. Tell people exactly how you can help in one image.
The Fast Lane Volkswagen
What happens when you take grocery carts and add skateboards? Grocery shopping goes a little bit faster (and becomes more fun).
Bottle Bank Arcade
Improve recycling efforts by making it fun. Just press start and insert your bottles. Collect points. Enjoy the flashing lights and video game sounds.
PacMan Bud Light
Guests played a real physical PacMan game at this event for the Super Bowl. Check out the size of that quarter.
Located on the Place de Festival in Montreal, thirty lit, adult-sized seesaws transformed the space into an adult playground.
Burbu Car Wash
This unique car wash offers a 25-minute cleaning process. 25 minutes for what you might ask? The business will show you in its transparent operations, which is put on in a very theatrical way. The surroundings are almost entirely blue, except for the white ball pit and swing in the VIP section.
Anheuser-Busch at SXSW
At SXSW, Anheuser-Busch hosted the Budweiser Beer Garage in order to engage with the tech-savvy audience. They offered this crowd a virtual reality experience that allowed them to experience a brewery tour and go behind the scenes to see how the beer is made.
Kiss & Tell Fresh
Makeup company Fresh invited women in Manhattan to a glass truck for a mobile makeover. They received a lip product application of their choosing and then were given the option to “tell” by sending an e-card or a traditional postcard with their new look.
10 Experiential Events That Challenged Audience Thinking
What Goes Around Comes Around Poster Campaign Global Coalition for Peace
This clever poster used the shape of the column it would be wrapped around to illustrate their thinking.
Escalators are a great place for experiential marketing because they are at once fun and perilous. This campaign plays up the dangerous teeth at the end while also calling attention to the plight of sea creatures that eat plastic bags.
Antarctica Kilroy Travels
This example pulls double duty. It uses a physical depiction of what many of us think of when considering Antarctica, ice, and it uses fear of missing out due to melting and climate change.
WWF and Panasonic
This example also addresses climate change with a polar bear made of ice that slowly melts to reveal only a skeleton.
Drunk Driving Makes You a Criminal Rikkis Taxi
This campaign poster resembled a height chart used in police stations. The posters were hung on walls across from the sink in bars and restaurants conveying the message that driving drunk makes you a criminal. The clever campaign illustrated for people how you could easily be arrested and what exactly that would look like.
“Paper Panda” in Paris
In order to bring meaning to just how few pandas are left in the world, this group created paper mache pandas and placed them around many large cities such as Paris, Berlin, and Bordeaux. Every panda represents 1,600 pandas and each sculpture has a different face and attitude.
Sweeper United Nations Mine Action Service
Unless you’ve lived in a war-torn country, it’s difficult to understand the perils of living with mines. The United Nations Mine Action Service looked to create that understanding through an exhibit at the New Museum in New York City. The event simulated walking through a minefield using beacons and an app.
Flash Drives for Freedom
Check out this wall from SXSW. Flash drives are a way to get information into North Korea. This organization found a creative idea to garner attention and increase donations for flash drives.
“Give Warmth” Caritas Charity
Filling a need is also something we see over and over in experiential marketing. Caritas Charity and Coca-Cola wanted to do something to raise money for the homeless. Instead of asking people to donate money to that directly, they offered them a heated bus shelter for a euro. That money was then donated to the program.
Imagine a World March of Dimes
For their 80th anniversary, the March of Dimes wanted to do something different from the average fundraiser so they created a free, interactive, pop-up exhibit. The exhibit is housed in a whimsical land of interactive games and puzzles, a selfie station, and flower-crown making area, as well as a diaper changing area. It brings together the joy of childhood in order to help those who are not born healthy.
10 Retail Experiential Marketing and the Best "In Store" Activations
“She-Village” at the Current Boston Seaport District
This rotating retail pop-up spot brings in new retailers every 6 months. It’s open year round. Some of the stores are adorned with murals and other artsy exteriors.
View this post on Instagram
Oh my God ! We are so happy to announce that Bref is now open in Boston in the Seaport for the next 6 months! Come and discover our first exhibition around the theme of the sea! We present several emerging creators from Montreal and abroad in the field of art and design! Yeahhh! Cheers Boston! — Oh my god ! On est tellement contentesde vous annoncer que Bref est maintenant ouvert à Boston dans le Seaport pour les 6 prochains mois ! Venez découvrir notre première expo autour du thème de la mer ! On a plusieurs créateurs émergents de Montréal et de l’international à vous faire découvrir ! Yeahhh !
A post shared by Bref (@bref.mtl) on
Benetton Interactive Windows
This collection of interactive windows at the Benetton stores causes passersby to stop and check them out. They can even try on some clothes.
South Street Seaport
This fun pop-up retail area in New York City reuses shipping containers and features emerging designers.
View this post on Instagram
We love showing off our ideas with fancy renderings #seaport #containers #emergingdesigners #popupstores #madeinny #retailactivation #renderings #seaprtnyc #retailconcept #popupcontainers #popupshops #fashionbrands #fashionretail #billboards #shopping #shoppingdistrict #retailinthecity
A post shared by Retail in the City (@retail.in.the.city) on
International Basketballfest Nike
Even large brands are using pop-ups. This one from Nike includes a boutique store as well as a rooftop lounge. It too is made from shipping containers.
View this post on Instagram
@nikebasketball launched this shipping container pop up shop for the International Basketball Fest in Paris several years ago. The pop up has a showroom on one side and a shop and rooftop lounge on the other. #popupstore #popups #popupshops #popupshop #popupstores #nike #marketing #branding #advertising #promotion #experientialmarketing #shippingcontainerconversion #containerretail #popupwithgp
A post shared by Greg Parsons (@houstonmallslocalleasing) on
Lands’ End Heritage Tour
In order to celebrate their anniversary and show off their Heritage Collection, Lands’ End packed up a 25-foot Airstream camper (decorated like a sea-going duffle bag, their iconic bag from the 70s) and hit the road traveling to all sorts of fun spots in Wisconsin.
View this post on Instagram
If you’re at the @packers game today swing by the @johnsonville Tailgate Village and visit @cabmoody and I at the #LandsEndHeritageTour Airstream! 🏈🍻🧀 . . #LandsEndLife #Employee #GreenBayPackers #Airstream #FlyingCloud #workinit #ExperientialMarketing #Gifs #SimpleBooth #WorkFriends #Football #PackersVsBears #LambeauField
A post shared by Brianna Purvis (@wisconniewanderlust) on
Kate Spade Igloo Popup
Bryant Park in New York City is abuzz with holiday spirit at Christmas. The pop-up market and Christmas lights make it a delightful time for locals and tourists. This Kate Spade pop-up store added to the holiday experience as it was in the shape of an igloo and lit from inside.
Louis Vuitton Launch Party
This pretty pop-up is too cute to miss. It nearly resembles a Faberge Egg in its beguiling shape and the bright red on white design is sure to make an audience eager with anticipation of the launch.
Valentino Pop-up Shop
This display is too gorgeous not to go in. Then again, it’s so pretty passersby may just want to stand in front of it taking selfies all day.
Ikea created this pop-up in the shape of a 20x20 apartment to promote its store opening in Brooklyn. Inside it gives great ideas for decorating a small space. Functional and cute, just like its offerings.
Fine Whisky Emporium Dewars
Dewars had a pop-up commissioned and then hit the road to increase their audience. Riding the tiny house craze, they appealed to a new market that may have formerly believed whisky was an “old person’s drink.”
10 Big Budget Experiential Marketing Ideas
The Simpsons Kwik-E-Mart 20th Century Fox
In order to bring some hype to The Simpsons movie, 20th Century Fox paired up with 7-Eleven to transform several locations into Simpson-esque stores. The stores also carried some of Homer’s favorite brands.
Imagine sitting at your favorite coffee shop and witnessing a young man “accidentally” spill coffee on another patron’s laptop. Moments later with a quick flick of her hand he is sent flying up a wall. This act of rage was really experiential marketing for the remake of the movie Carrie.
Indoor Streetscape MillerCoors
MillerCoors took over the Austin Convention Center and created an indoor streetscape for the evening. They recreated the capital city’s Rainey Street.
Coachella Absolut Lime
This installation let the branding guide the theme and atmosphere, a verdant green. Only problem is that it’s hard to achieve in the desert. Using a 20’ lime tree, hedges, and lights as well as a faux lime photo booth backdrop, there was no mistaking the brand. They served about 7,000 people a day.
VidCon Awesomeness Ball Pit
Not only do attendees have all the fun of playing in a ballpit, they can get a backward free fall captured on slow-mo video to share with their tribe.
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by VidCon 2019 (@vidcon) on
National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey
This experience is more immersive and less marketing but still amazing so we included it. Located in Times Square, it provides adventurers with a look into the seas and interactive experiences with dolphins, rays, and humpback whales. Hard to believe there is absolutely no water involved.
Thank You Machine TD Bank
Fulfilling personalized desires will improve loyalty. Take a look at what this bank did for customers.
City of Taipei
Great experiential marketing examples 2017. In order to garner more support for the 2017 Summer Universiade and build a buzz, the City of Taipei transformed several of their subway cars into fields, pools, and other event backgrounds. They lined the cars with laminate floorings that look like track and lane lines.
Christmas Miracle WestJet
Again, we see the joy behind making someone’s wishes come true. WestJet asked travelers what they wanted for Christmas and while they flew, the busy WestJet elves went to work to make it happen. The gifts were waiting when they arrived.
Unlock the 007 in You SkyFall Coca-Cola
This creative contest challenged participants to unlock their inner James Bond and take on a series of timed challenges. It played upon a desire to achieve and an interest in seeing themselves as something else.
10 Experiential Marketing Case Studies from the Best in the Industry
If you’re considering experiential marketing, you likely want to know how well it works. Here are a few examples from some of the top experiential marketing campaigns and best experiential marketing companies in the world.
The first experiential marketing case study is one of the seminal experiential marketing pieces where social meets world. In it, a roving robot was created to “write” messages along the race route for the Tour de France participants. It was originally designed to celebrate Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong message.
While not its main goal, it increased apparel sales by 46%.
There’s little more frustrating than a tie among crosstown rivals in high school football. Gatorade facilitated a rematch fifteen years after the original game and brought the audience in through webisodes and a TV series. The main goal was to extend the appeal of the popular sports beverage past current athletes and into a market of 30-something men.
The program cost $225,000 in paid media and earned $3.5 million. It also increased Gatorade sales by 63%.
Holland & Barrett Conference Carnival
Holland & Barrett’s sales conference is designed to inspire and motivate the staff and get them ready for the future. The company wanted something enticing and so they went with a high energy themed conference in 2016. They took over the entire venue for the 1,600-person event, which included carnival games, entertainers, pop-up food booths, and special rigging in the Skyline Pavilion.
Event feedback was “incredible” according to Holland & Barrett and much of that appeared on Twitter.
Tweet for Your Feet Old Navy
In order to build a buzz around their $1 flip flop sale, Old Navy created several flip flop vending machines. When participants tweeted their favorite vacation spot to wear Old Navy flip flops and used the hashtag, a pair of flip flops was dispensed.
The tactic generated 9,000 tweets that mentioned Old Navy, creating 12 million social media impressions. The campaign also got coverage in Forbes, AdAge, and InStyle magazine.
Sweeper United Nations Mine Action Service
We wrote about this example under the section about experiential marketing that changes minds. But we wanted to share the success of the campaign as well.
When UNMAS used their app and beacon technology to show the perils of walking through an area that could contain mines, they saw a 152% increase in donations from the year before and a 250% increase in traffic to their website.
Aventura Mall CUR8 Room
This pop-up helped students get ready to go back to school by allowing them to work with local designers to come up with their own creative designs for sneakers, backpacks, and phone cases.
2,000 visitors came by and that yielded 1.5 million+ social media impressions.
Time Warner Cable Super Bowl Event
Time Warner Cable offered a 60-minute tour inside a cable box using interactive booths.
25,000 people took the tour, which yielded 455 public relations placements and 1.5 billion impressions.
Red Bull Stratos Jump
Red Bull, popularly known for its “Red Bull Gives You Wings” slogan, decided to “test” that theory with this experiential marketing stunt. Skydiver Felix Baumgartner jumped from space and the jump was broadcast live as a webcast in 2012.
It garnered an impressive 52 million views and sales increased 7% in the six months after the campaign. Red Bull experiential marketing is great at getting people excited and keeping fans loyal to their brand.
Facebook is easy to use but so many of its users don’t employ basic personalization and security on their accounts. Thus the Facebook IQ event. At this physical event, attendees learned the online shoppers’ conversion process when using social media to make buying decisions. Facebook also provided a spot full of social media photo ops.
93% of the 1,500 attendees said the event provided them with valuable insights on how to use Facebook for business.
Flash Drives for Freedom Human Rights Foundation
As mentioned above, Flash Drives for Freedom used SXSW to show people that information sharing is important, especially so in a country where exchange is not supported.
At the event 125,000 drives were donated/pledged, which allowed them to get 50M hours of reading material to people in North Korea. The group received $6.4M of free media coverage of their efforts and program and 571M media impressions.
Hopefully you are fired up by these experiential marketing examples and case studies. Let’s look at the research and how you can adapt this to your own event activations.
The numbers behind the marketing are always important so let’s talk about the data behind experiential marketing.
In a poll conducted by Event MB, 32% of event planners saw experiential marketing as a priority for 2018. While that’s not a huge number, it is indicative of things to come.
Since you likely won’t create an experiential marketing campaign overnight it’s important to note that this is becoming more important in the industry and it definitely is to attendees. And we’re not alone in speculating on this. 58% of event planners saw demand for experiential increasing.
Next, let’s talk about the younger generation.
First, the under-35 generation prefers experiences over material possessions. They admitted that they are willing to pay more for them. According to a study by Harris Group, 72% of the Millennials polled preferred to spend money on experiences over things.
Next, it’s important to note that they don’t just want the experiences, they enjoy sharing them with their tribe.
Harris Group also found that spending on experiences and live events as a total of US spending has risen 70% since 1987. It’s surmised that a lot of this has to do with a desire to share experiences, be the first to do so, and share it with their tribe through social media. There’s a fear of missing out. They also use social media sharing to connect with people who are experiencing the same thing.
Experiential marketing is not only creating tons of content, it is also assisting in generating data but it’s up to the event planner or marketer to use it in an effective way.
For the most effective experiential marketing, you want to make an impression. But if you stop there, you’re only providing an experience. You’re losing the marketing component. Nearly all of the 100 top experiential marketing campaigns above had a product or service tie-in. They had clever ways to incorporate the brand message with the experience. They made participants afraid of missing out or energized to try something new and thus try their product. The examples used marketing messages in visual ways so the ideas stayed with the audience. They also incorporated social media in meaningful ways so as not to lose the momentum they created with the experience.
In addition to the marketing component and the brand strategy, which we’ll get into in a bit, there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to be an experiential marketing specialist:
Know your audience. You can’t appeal to them if you don’t know what they like.
Use the basics of marketing things like fear of missing out, playing up an interesting experience, and enabling social sharing are important in experiential marketing. Have a social media strategy in place for the campaign.
Hire someone who can help you tell the story. A PR professional is a smart spend because even though you’re going to get earned media through experiential marketing, you need someone to get the ball rolling.
Use the content you’re creating and the data you’re collecting.
Create activities that are attendee or customer focused and employ an active component. This isn’t about getting your audience to watch your new marketing video. You need an active component to drive engagement.
Employ branding. If you go to great lengths to attract a crowd the last thing you want is people asking, “What was the point of that?”. You want them to know who was behind the experiential marketing or it won’t be a branding exercise and thus won’t be successful.
Use video. In a good experiential marketing event, participants will capture it on video and share it to social media. But since you want reliable footage of good quality, the only way to ensure that is by doing it yourself.
Enable shares. Social media is essential to a good campaign. Again, others will probably do this for you, but sharing it with your audience will help you build momentum, get people talking, and help those who weren’t in attendance enjoy it as well.
Here are a few additional considerations according to event planners:
Experiential Marketing Strategy / Brand Activation Strategy
So why is experiential marketing becoming so hot? Two reasons: because it’s memorable and effective. Years ago, advertising was a fun medium. People would talk about clever commercials. There were special television shows dedicated to the “funniest commercials of the year.” These days, consumers are finding ways to avoid commercials. They’re:
- keyboard_arrow_right recording their favorite shows and fast forwarding the commercials
- keyboard_arrow_right watching shows on demand with limited commercial interruption
- keyboard_arrow_right Streaming specialty shows produced by Hulu and Netflix with fewer commercials
- keyboard_arrow_right Upgrading to music streaming services that don’t have commercials
- keyboard_arrow_right Listening to downloaded music without commercial interruption
- keyboard_arrow_right Using pop-up and ad blockers
Commercials and advertisements are having a harder time reaching the target audience. Plus, experiential marketing is doing something advertising can’t. It’s creating an emotional connection between brands and consumers. Ads used to be able to do this with some humor. Today’s audiences are savvier and expect more than just a clever line. They want interaction. That’s difficult in a one-sided broadcast or printed page.
But experiential marketing isn’t about shock value or Hollywood production. It’s still marketing, which means it requires a marketing strategy and a solid brand activation plan. Here’s how you can accomplish top experiential marketing campaigns:
Know your audience.
As we mentioned before, knowing your audience is incredibly important when it comes to understanding what will wow them. What is effective in connecting one group, won’t be with another.
Define your goals and your budget.
What do you plan to accomplish and how much do you have to spend?
Measure where you are today, before the event.
After you know what you’re trying to accomplish figure out the metrics that will help you measure success. Then record those metrics as they are at this moment. All good data measurement begins with a baseline.
Know this is not a one-person job.
The vision and strategy may be the brainchild of one person but the implementation of an event requires a team. Assemble one you can count on. Look for those with experiential or guerilla marketing experience.
Wow! moments are never derived from day-to-day experiences. If your audience has already seen or heard what you’re trying to do, it won’t have that special amazement factor. Shoot for something they’ve never seen.
Bring your “A” attitude.
Fun is very important in experiential marketing. Bring a good attitude and always remember the audience will feed off of the energy at your event. Keep it high.
Don’t forget the content value.
Experiential marketing is a social media food source. Capitalize on that and ensure that you capture the moments, share them, and use those hashtags.
Use your baseline and gauge your success against it.
Remember those metrics you established in step 3? Use those to chart your success.
At this point, we’ve shown you some amazing experiential marketing ideas. We’ve covered how important a strategy is and how you can create one.
Do you still want more?
Of course you do!
We still haven’t covered exactly how you would go about creating a successful experiential marketing campaign. Let’s move past strategy and get into implementation of your brand activation plan.
Create an Immersive Experience for a Deeper Connection
This doesn’t need to mean lengthy, but you want your audience coming away from the installation feeling a new connection to your brand. For instance, think of someone who’s never felt what it’s like to sit in a hot tub. You can spend all day describing what it’s like with vivid words. You can show them a video of others enjoying it. But the biggest way to make an impression on them is by shoving them in giving them access to enjoy it themselves.
Details Make an Experiential Marketing Campaign
Here are a few additional things you need to do when creating your experiential marketing campaign.
Scout out a public space. Foot traffic is essential to drawing a crowd. Don’t forget to look into permits or other legalities needed.
Plan out the interactive component and make arrangements for what you’ll need on-site including samples, technology, presenters, etc.
Create a script to build excitement and engagement among the crowd.
Decide whether you will create a pop-up retail situation, take orders, gather leads, or simply work towards making an impression.
Decide whether this is a one-day event, something that lasts for a week, is part of a national or international tour, or seasonal.
Plan a contest as part of your event. Contests fuel participation.
Add an emotional component. This is an extra step and not essential but it does add a special touch to your experiential marketing. In 2013, Milka sold 10 million chocolate bars that were missing a piece. Inside it asked the buyer if they wanted the missing piece to be sent to them or to a friend. It was a nice way to connect and one that didn’t require a crowd but did get people talking.
Create a social media plan. If things go well, your event will get a lot of talk. That’s why everything must be branded and a social media hashtag should be used prominently so that when people talk, the conversations can be found easily. Don’t just plan on tweeting or posting a video. Brainstorm creative ways to get the most social media coverage. Tease your audience before, cover it live, and then show those who weren’t there how fun it was.
Don’t forget the call to action. Don’t get people all worked up without giving them something to do. It’s important to drive them to action when the current is in your favor.
As the research proves, experience is particularly important to a lot of younger participants. They enjoy it and they share it. They can be a powerful component of your earned media.
Reaching a Younger Generation with Experiential Marketing
Keep the following things in mind if you are trying to attract those under 35.
When executed correctly, your campaign should provide fuel for their sharing desire. This group is tech-savvy, the largest demographic on the visual sharing site Instagram, and largely well-versed in social media. That means if you’re targeting an under-35 crowd as part of your experiential marketing campaign, they’ll likely cover it for you on social media - an added bonus when it comes to increasing your audience. According to Splash, 81% of people under 35 admitted to sharing pictures on social media at a branded event.
Create an image-worthy campaign. Knowing that the under-35 set enjoys image sites and actively shares on them, you should ensure your experiential marketing event is image-worthy. One of the ways to do that is to give out branded swag, tasters, or other social media bait. You can even create a contest around it, involving uploading pictures or voting for images.
Give them a look. Those under-35 also value authenticity when it comes to brands and the ability to “peer behind the curtains” of their favorite brands. Experiential marketing does both of these things. It shows them another side and allows an exuberant personality to shine through, which stirs energy, one of the things that makes for a great event.
Provide a feel good factor. The younger generation will pay more for locally sourced produce and small business offerings. They like to feel they’re supporting something of value. Look for ways to give that to them.
How to Use Experiential Marketing on a Budget
As we showed earlier, experiential marketing is about how you make participants feel, not how much money is spent. While your options may be larger with an immense budget, there are still plenty of ways to get your audience’s attention with a lighter wallet. You can:
Creativity rules when your budget is on the smaller side. Get your thinking cap on and dream of ways you can make an impression on the crowd. Think about what you want people to take away about your company as a starting point.
Use the Five Senses.
Our senses create some of our most vivid memories. Think back to childhood and I bet there are smells that reignite memories good or bad. If you want to create an indelible memory, look for ways to involve the audience’s five senses.
Provide Samples Creatively.
If you sell a product, look for ways to sample your item. This could involve pop-up tastings or on-the-spot free trials. This tactic moves products for two reasons. If you have a great one, sampling will get people interested. But most people also feel obligated when you give them something to give you something (like a sale or a donation) in return.
Go Big or Go Home.
Flash mobs cause people to turn around and watch and they aren’t expensive to organize. Many of them are comprised of volunteers. You can use flash mob dancers, singers, or even stunt people.
Do Something Shocking.
Take a lesson from Nestle’s experiential marketing campaign for Natural Bliss coffee creamer. The point behind the product is that it is natural. What better way to illustrate that than by setting up a pop-up coffee shop with baristas in au naturel attire and body paint. It was shocking but fairly inexpensive. I’m not sure what the health department would think of nudists serving hot beverages but it definitely got people to pay attention.
Grassroots or guerilla marketing involves a group of marketing foot soldiers. Just don’t use the kind with annoying clipboards who chase you down (ahem, Delta Airlines credit card). Most of us want to be part of the crowd. There’s safety in it and there’s often a fear of missing out if you believe everyone else is doing it. Assembling brand ambassadors can be done relatively inexpensively if people already love your brand. Send these folks to the street or encourage them to create video footage on behalf of your brand.
After looking at hundreds of great experiential marketing campaigns from some of the best experiential marketing companies in the world, here’s what we uncovered about the hottest trends in experiential marketing:
- keyboard_arrow_right Pop-up events are hot.
- keyboard_arrow_right Fear of missing out is a popular motivator in experiential marketing.
- keyboard_arrow_right Enabling people to face their fears or do something they didn’t think possible makes a memorable experience.
- keyboard_arrow_right Transforming everyday things into something extraordinary creates image-worthy ops.
- keyboard_arrow_right Above average growth in events is increasing the need to stand out. Experiential marketing is a strong differentiator when it comes to word of mouth marketing.
- keyboard_arrow_right AR and VR are being used increasingly in experiential marketing.
- keyboard_arrow_right ROI is becoming more important and companies are deciding exactly what that means to them.
Which brings us to...
Measurement and ROI of Experiential Marketing
Return on investment is becoming increasingly important to brands and companies. Marketers want to see if their creativity is paying off. Most often this requires deciding what your goal is, how you will measure it, establishing a baseline, collecting data, and then analyzing it.
But it’s the kind of data that is most important when deciding return on investment. What you measure must be related to your goal. For instance, if brand recognition is important to you and the reason behind your experiential marketing, measuring views of your video and new followers are great ideas. However, if you wanted to increase sales, views only benefit you if they translate to a purchase. In that case, you’d want to measure sales after the campaign versus sales before. Also, note any other marketing strategies you’re using at that time.
To become an experiential marketing specialist always connect your data to your goal or what you’re measuring won’t have any application to your revenue.
Experiential marketing is becoming an expectation. Experiences mean more to people as they continue to expect to be amazed. You don’t need a huge budget to embrace this trend but you do need a good knowledge of your audience, what they want, what they fear, and what delights them beyond measure.
Now onto you:
- keyboard_arrow_right What are the great experiential marketing campaigns and activations that have most excited and impressed you? Let us know in the comments below.
- keyboard_arrow_right Do you have a tip to make this page better or want to use any of the statistics? Send an email to email@example.com
- keyboard_arrow_right Are you an experiential marketing specialist? Do you have more tips and advice to add about how to run engagement marketing campaigns? Want to disclose an experiential marketing case study? Comment below and share with other event professionals.
- keyboard_arrow_right Do you have a colleague who may benefit from reading this page? Share it with them