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April 4, 2008

Justin Foxton: Making experiential more affordable

Recent research we conducted showed that many marketers feel that bespoke live communications are too expensive when compared to field marketing and sampling. The survey was conducted among 100 brands in the UK, and spelled bad news for experiential agencies, with 65% of respondents saying they would be happier diverting funds to this form of marketing if costs come down.

In response we plans to launch a new service to the market which will bring the costs of high end brand theatre in line with standard experiential campaigns. The service will give clients access to the skills of professional performers at promotional staffing rates.

Time for a shake up?
I think it’s time that experiential marketing, which has become a flavour of the moment activity in the UK, had a radical shake up. Most of the clients and agencies we talked to were aware of the increased effectiveness of an experiential campaign when professional performers are used versus one simply employing the services of professional promotional staff.

They were convinced by heightened recall rates, (researched to be as high as 89% after 4 weeks), reach and word-of-mouth figures, but without exception, they felt that it would be more widely used if rates were lower. It’s clear from this research that the industry is pricing itself too high at the moment and therefore missing the chance to enjoy the larger briefs that longer established marketing techniques have secured for so long.

Theatre of dreams

Essentially, clients are asking for brand theatre at sampling budgets. As experiential marketing plays an increasingly important role in the mix, clients are demanding results and are hence demanding much more than the proverbial pretty student in a baseball cap. That is what this service will address. Given the results of the survey that we have been conducting we think it is time for a radical overhaul of the sector to give clients maximum bang for buck; top notch talent to spread the message of their brand or service for little more than their ordinary staffing budgets.

We can achieve the new service through the block booking of performers’ time on an ongoing basis, reducing day rates and extending the saving on to the client. I think that this move will set a new cost and quality benchmark for the industry as a whole.

Justin Foxton is CEO of live communications agency CommentUK

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