In a year of huge cultural, historical and sporting relevance, brands will be (and already are) fighting for ‘white space’ and unique ways to engage with the British public. During this very busy year the strategy and tactics that brands choose are critical, which is why we decided to use this Synopsis to look at some of the activation trends we are expecting to see in 2012.
At a macro level, experiential marketing (EM) is a growth trend in itself . Experiential specialists have long debated the need for integration with digital media to extend the reach of the live activity beyond a single interaction. Momentum has been driven primarily by the growth of social networks, which provide longevity, an extended audience and a measurement tool for the effectiveness of such campaigns.
Marketers are more concerned than ever about customer experience and innovation, but with a need to find simple, differentiating tactics, expect 2012 to be a year of the ‘Ts’.
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)
RFID is a system that can transmit the identity of a person wirelessly using radio waves. A portable device (for example a wristband, PDA, card, smart phone or even just a sticker) automatically transmits the data to an RFID reader, where it is then processed.
RFID has been used for many years - in fact, you may be using it in one form or another every day. I used RFID technology at least five times before I reached my desk today via my Oyster and Engine building access cards. In 2006, the Emirates Stadium opened with an electronic ticketing system and members of ‘The Arsenal’ use their membership cards to enter the stadium, removing the need for gate security staff.
The ability of RFID technology to unite live and digital, by allowing consumers to share a real-time brand experience and messages in a controlled fashion with social networks, has seen the technology flourish. At the recent Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange London, RFID technology was implemented for guests to share their real time nightlife experience on Facebook. After a simple registration process guests could ‘check-in’, ‘like’ and post photos directly to their walls by tapping their RFID wristbands on ‘Facebook Interactive Pods’. All posts were predetermined by Smirnoff which provided an element of controlled messaging. The event was amplified to 1.6 million people on Facebook. Laura Moody of Blondefish, the event technology company who deliver this RFID solution for Smirnoff comments: “The use of RFID technology in the event space is delivering powerful results for both the live audience and brand sponsorship. Consumers and brands are embracing the way RFID can deliver a more personal, memorable and interactive live experience. As guests share their experiences on social media they become advocates for the brand, delivering huge levels of online brand amplification.”
It is not only events that are seeing the benefits and word-of-mouth that RFID can offer. In 2011, Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel installed Facebook pods for guests to “make all their Facebook friends jealous.”
With the costs of RFID coming down and the possibilities endless, there are some exciting developments that could change the face of experiential marketing.
Music festivals are quickly discovering the benefits of using RFID. It is making ticketing and admissions more efficient, while ‘cashless’ payment methods are reducing security problems (there is no need to carry a wallet), driving purchases and allowing brands to track spending patterns.
The ability to analyse individuals’ purchasing patterns allows a brand to deliver personalised content and offers. This not only drives spend (Mastercard in Canada has seen a 25% increase in spending by users of its RFID credit cards), but can also make customers feel more connected to the brand. Minority Report’s vision in 2002 of personalised advertising seemed something for the very distant future – but RFID is bringing it closer.
Augmented Reality & Blippar™
Image recognition is another way to connect the real world to the virtual one and 2011 saw plenty of brands experimenting with QR codes. However, it is safe to say that QR codes haven’t exactly set the world alight – usage has been low and according to a survey of 794 online respondents by Simpson Carpenter, just 36% of consumers know what QR codes are for, while only 11% have actually used them.
However, 2012 could be the year that Image Recognition finally takes off, thanks to Blippar™ – the 2.0 QR code. Blippar uses your phone’s in-built camera to bring a static image to life and provide an interactive experience. The difference between this and a QR code…the ‘wow’ factor.
Having previously used QR codes, Domino’s wanted to step up the innovation and required a more dynamic tool. Its current Blippar™-powered campaign promotes the brand’s ’555′ deal. Consumers simply hold their smartphone up to a Domino’s poster and it comes alive, allowing them to download deals, get the Domino’s mobile ordering app, become a Facebook fan and find out more about their local store.
KitKat are giving customers the chance to vote for their favourite new flavour by scanning posters using the Blippar™ app. The brand is also cleverly integrating geofencing into the campaign so that customers will be alerted whenever they are within a certain distance of a store which sells the KitKat Chunky flavour they voted for.
Sponsorship activation can really benefit from the ability to dynamically interact with static branding. We are not expecting Blippar™ pitch logos quite yet, but over the next few years we will certainly see the decline in static stadium and event branding and advertising. In January alone a number of big brands have started to use Blippar™, and expect loads more to follow during the rest of 2012.
With an influx of 2 million tourists to London, there is a huge opportunity for brands to engage with consumers in 2012. Brands will need to be clever to cut through the noise, and ‘drama’ can provide the essential memorable hook for consumers.
Flash mobs bring an experience to people in unexpected moments. Flash mobs are essentially a group of people getting together to do something unexpected, before quickly dispersing. They are becoming more and more popular, bringing a sense of wonder to those that encounter them. Brands have harnessed the power of flash mobs to engage with customers and create interesting content and brand experiences, as T-Mobile showed with their famous ads.
Flash mobs don’t require a lot of money, making them an ideal tactic for a small business, or when budgets are squeezed. The beauty of Flash mobs is their complete integration with social media and their potential to go viral and provide entertainment to not only the people who were there, but those who want to watch and share.
Boris Johnson is obviously a Flash mob fan:- the Mayor of London is using them to promote London as a city of history and culture during the Cultural Olympiad this summer. Mark Rylance, one of Britain’s greatest Shakespearean actors, and his crew of 50 actors (all disguised as ‘normal people’) will stage ‘Flash performances’ of sonnets and speeches. The unexpectedness of the experience will make it unforgettable for the people involved, while the content (both the planned scripts and unplanned audience reaction) will undoubtedly be shared around the world.
It is not a leap to imagine brands considering this as an opportunity for engagement during the Games, with consumers themselves (if wowed by the experience) providing the communications medium. There are, however, a few rules to making a flash mob successful and preventing this looking like a poor ‘am-dram’ performance:
1) Simplicity & originality for maximum impact
2) Good quantity and quality of ‘performers’ recruited for wow factor
3) Participants and location must blend together for the element of surprise
Sadly Qantas didn’t follow these simple rules for this effort to promote a new route:
2011 was the year of Pop Ups, and we think that this trend will continue to grow in 2012, particularly with available commercial property sitting vacant. Pop Ups are by no means a new phenomenon with restaurants, shops and galleries embracing them; however, it is now brands that are starting to realise the benefit of a temporary location that makes a statement, delivers an immediate impact and captures the consumer’s imagination. Combine a Pop Up with an event drawing millions in attendance and you have a powerful brand experience.
In 2011, Chanel took Pop Ups to a new level with the arrival of the Hollywood glitterati for the Cannes Film Festival. Golden mosaic-tiled walls, dedicated make-up and nail bars, an exhibition space of Chanel gowns and suits previously worn by actors, and a private lounge on the first floor with views of the red carpet leading up to the Palais des Festivals all helped to deliver the ultimate Chanel experience.
This summer we will see a plethora of Pop Ups appearing across London and much can be learned from those that have gone before them.
1) Locations. Good footfall, transport links and signage will benefit the Pop Up with a steady stream of customers. However, some of the more interesting locations aren’t on the high street, in which case building a strong communications programme and integrating with social media and technologies such as location-based services are essential
2) Content. Build a story. Offer a unique take and provide a new way for customers to consider the brand. New content will give the feeling of exclusivity
3) Innovative branding and stylish fixtures including digital media
THROUGH THE LINE INTEGRATION
So who will be the winners in 2012? From our perspective it will be those that have developed personalised, innovative, simple and, most importantly, integrated experiential campaigns.
Nike has made a strong start in the battle of the sports brands with its #makeitcount campaign. It is a brilliant example of a campaign which fully integrates ATL, experiential and digital to deliver great content and brand experiences. The campaign uses simple, standout photography and video to deliver a powerful message and a simple call to action…how will you #makeitcount in 2012?
But the really exciting thing is the way Nike has integrated experiential and social media into its campaign and made it relevant for everyone from elite athletes to gym dodgers (like me). Customers are invited to have their picture taken by a professional photographer in the style of the campaign and are given the chance to create a handwritten pledge as to how they will #makeitcount. The photo and message are not only shareable via social media channels, but will be displayed outdoor as part of the campaign.
@Nike has created its first single, dedicated Twitter feed. So far over 60,000 people have responded to the cry with #makeitcount. The first tweet on this account is from Nike founder Bill Bowerman: ‘If You Have A Body, You Are An Athlete’.
And, if you are ever in doubt that simplicity provides impact, check out another offering from Nike:
Experiential has always been able to deliver powerful brand experiences. The issue has been the reach and the fact that it has only ‘touched’ relatively few people. But as we can see, digital and social media channels are unlocking the full potential of experiential marketing by extending this reach exponentially.
And, of course, the power of sponsorship is that it gives brands the content and access they require to create experiential activity around their customers’ core passions.
By Lisa Parfitt on January 25th, 2012
Tags: Advertising, Branded content, Content, Digital marketing, Experiential marketing, Facebook, Flash mobbing, London 2012, Mobile, Synopsis