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August 14, 2008

Nick Wright:Welcome to the value exchange

I have just walked past Broadgate Circus near Liverpool Street and yet again witnessed (not experienced) another piece of lifeless brand activity.

It took me five minutes to work out which brand it was and I never quite realised what brand messages they were trying to portray.

Can this possibly deliver a good return on investment or portray the right image of the brand to the market?

Turning empathy into sales
Experiential is not about events, it’s about a one-to-one interaction with the audience to start long-term conversations that result in meaningful relationships for both, yet brands time and time again create sporadic, quirky executions that deliver no more than a nice set of pictures and a day out of the office for the marketing manager.

Any brand event should form part of the overall marketing campaign and should all tie in to one central proposition that delivers the brand messages and main objectives of the campaign. The event should also be used as a value exchange between brand and consumer to build useable customer relationship management systems that can turn the empathy into sales.

Sound advice

A great example is music events. How many times do you go to a brand-created music event and walk away with nothing more than the tunes in your head?

The music industry is struggling, it relies on brand involvement, but this involvement is no more than a tagging exercise – banners and logos on flyers.

If a brand is to stand away from this and create a brand campaign rather than a sponsorship activity, it needs to create content-rich brand events that deliver unique and engaging experiences that are enhanced by the talent, not reliant upon them.

Adding values
This is evermore imperative now in the cluttered world of entertainment, where ‘bog standard’ events don’t cut through. They may get the people through the door, but the impact should be much more. The event should be aspirational so that the demand is high and allows the brand to collect data and communicate with the consumers on an ongoing basis.

Also, by creating an identity for the campaign and their subsequent events, the credibility, awareness and empathy that is built up stays with the brand and can help build the campaign year on year.

Brands shouldn’t act arrogantly either – they don’t know everything and neither do their agencies. Gone are the days of consumers being reliant on brands, record labels and television channels to inform them of what to consume. Today, consumers make the decisions and lead the trends more than ever, so we should work with the key opinion formers to co-create relevant events for the wider audience.

Digging deeper

This is clearly apparent in the Hidden Depths campaign we created for San Miguel. Using the product truths and target market, we created an identity and content that both reflected the brand and resonated with the audience.

Working closely with the artists and their fanbase, we developed a campaign that provided unique experiences through a series of brand events, online presence and continued communication. This built up a following for the brand/brand campaign rather than one particular artist or event – a CRM system driven and wanted by the audience.

The Becks Fusions campaign is also a great example, with massive talent such as Chemical Brothers and Massive Attack combined with cutting-edge art and visual installations creates multiple focal points all related to the activity and not one particular artist. The brand represents itself in the right way, it acts as a promoter, but ensures that it is its own message coming across – and post event, consumers still refer to the brand/campaign, rather than the artists.

Nick Wright is a partner at experiential marketing agency Amplify

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