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Experiential hasn't lost its way at all. I would agree if the kinds of activations you outline are all we get from the discipline. But I've seen a huge amount of fantastically creative, bold and above all relevant experiential campaigns this year. The difference for me is a) cost - a lack of budget means agencies turn to the most cost-effective (usually the most simple) solution, and b) creativity - either brands not being brave enough, or hiring agencies with great production experience but little in the way of creative talent. This is where I agree with you David - the best experiences are delivered by true experiential specialists. PR agencies' task is stunts where the primary target audience is he/she who consumes it through on/offline media.
Hi Dave. You've made some good points here, though I do think that PR agencies are very well equipped to deliver experiential campaigns. We always have to sell a story (a true one) to journos and the public are no different as 'recipients' of said stories. The hard sell just doesn't work and the best PRs are usually able to find an execution that's not only worth writing about, but credible amongst attendees. Which is nice. Just a thought. Anyway, glad you're able to use your last name unlike Dubai Dave.
Experiential is not dying, its just getting done very badly by people who have jumped on the "We're experiential" train - Staffing, PR and Ad agencies who are looking at adding to their bottom line and thinking its easy money. The "we can do that" mentally is failing the true Experiential agencies. The real experiences are creative lead with the consumer in mind, PR agencies don't design - they do stunts along with staffing companies...
Sort of agree in a way! Classic experiential, as typified by solus sampling is a complete waste of time and money! Mainly staffed by people who have no idea what or why they are attempting to engage with consumers by encouraging brand trial/fan status - how many times have we all seen an untrained, unenthusiastic supposed brand ambassador behind a sterile pod, saying "try this" to which your response may well be "what is it" & their response "don't know, but try it anyway"! OK I may be exaggerating a bit, but not that much and when you have someone who two days ago was demo'ing cheese the next day air-freshner, on the day, cooking sauce and tomorrow well it could mobile phones! No wonder it's a sterile experience with no real value or engagement and could be argued to actually be brand negative!
That's why we believe that the 'Only Way is Multi-Brand', precisely because to operate properly you need highly trained Brand Believers, who know and believe in the brands 100% and who are on the campaign for the duration, not for a day! The results; real retail theater, increased store traffic and sales and much more in-depth consumer engagement - so everyone's happy brands, the mults, even the crew who enjoy the multi-brand experience so much more and as such give so much more! Believe us Multi-brand works; we've been pioneering it for years - www.brandbelief.co.uk
Experiential is dying because every sales promotion agency that attempts to create it just ends up defaulting to "How many vouchers can we hand out?"/"How many samples can we get in people's hands?" (whether they want it or not). This knackers up the budget for creating a genuine 'experience'. PR agencies generally create the best experiential because they 'get' the value of spinning coverage off from something that IS an experience/looks great/says more about a brand than just cheapening it via a crappy voucher.
Thanks Will - interesting points.
One interpretation of what your saying could be that maybe experiential HAS responded - by occurring less outside the store in the short-term - to happening long-term inside the store: a shift that benefits both the brand and consumer.
In that respect, many brands are still investing heavily in the user's experience, in some cases more than they were in 'experiential' - If these leads to the death of sampling, and being bothered by colourfully dressed strangers in the street, then I'm all for it.
So, the question is, has experiential marketing lost its way, or has it finally found its way, with a redefinition of the term?