Experiential marketing gives consumers an entirely new ways to connect with brands. It puts control of interacting with brands in the hands of consumers, and allows them to connect with brands they like when and how they want to.
There are so many different ways to implement experiential marketing that it can be nearly impossible to know where or how to create an experiential marketing plan for your company.
We've put together a list of three companies who rock experiential marketing in completely different ways to get you inspired.
1. Bud Light
In the summers of 2014 and 2015, Bud Light ran their Whatever, USA campaign. This campaign brought 1,000 Bud Light super fans to “Whatever, USA,” a fake beer-fueled town that was based in the actual towns of Crested Butte, Colorado in 2014, and Catalina Island in 2015. The all-expenses-paid weekend bash included music, celebrities, and of course, lot’s of face time with the iconic beer brand.
But why would Bud Light pay a reported $500,000 to the host city just so 1,000 of their fans can party for the weekend?
For one, 37,000 pieces of content were created during the 2014 event–and only 50 of them are attributed to Bud Light itself. The winners of the preceding Up for Whatever campaign who got to go to Whatever, USA, essentially became brand ambassadors for the beer company, posting tons of pictures and other posts about the experience.
"Of course we want to make sure that the 1,000 people who come here have an amazing time," said Alex Lambrecht, VP of Bud Light. "But ultimately we want those consumers to broadcast to the world how amazing it was, because we want to reach more than the 1,000 people that are here."
This campaign definitely involved more consumers than just the ones who made it to Whatever, USA. The Up for Whatever competition brought in 200,000 entries in 2014, and 1.7 million in 2015.
Coca-Cola launched their now-iconic Share a Coke campaign in the U.S. during the summer of 2014. The campaign, which featured a swath of names of on the packaging of Coke bottles, was, at least in part, responsible for the company’s first sales rise in over a decade.
The Share a Coke campaign has since ended, but what made it so successful in the first place?
Fans and non-fans of Coke alike got involved in the campaign. Many of them hunted for a bottle featuring their name, or the names of their family friends. The campaign took the mundane action of buying and consuming Coke and made it a fun and exciting adventure.
"We gave consumers an opportunity to express themselves through a bottle of Coke, and to share the experience with someone else,” said Lucie Austen, who runs marketing for the Northwest Europe and Nordics business unit at Coca-Cola. “The fact that your name is on a Coke bottle, it can't get more personal than that!”
Coca-Cola’s summer 2016 U.S. campaign swapped the names for song lyrics, which has a similar effect, although it’s not quite the same level of personal.
We’re all familiar with the process of going to car dealership and testing cars we’re interested in, but BMW takes the experience to the next level with their BMW Performance Driving School in Greenville-Spartanburg, SC.
The driving school offers BMW enthusiasts the chance to drive some of their top performing cars on a driving course with a professional driving instructor, many of whom are retired NASCAR drivers. Participants can learn cornering, drifting, and even do timed laps on the tracks. And for true sports car enthusiasts, there’s an M School that allows them to drive cars that are part of the highly tuned M series.
Even though the one and two-day courses range from $750 to over $4K, the driving school only makes a minimal profit. Why would BMW invest in a $12.5 million facility if it barely makes money?
The idea is to get more car purchases by giving potential drivers a taste of what life is like with BMW. By giving them one of the best driving experiences they’ve ever had, on a professional driving course and with an experience driving instructor, BMW is instilling in their potential customers that a BMW is what they need to make driving exciting.
“Maybe you're on the fence and don't know what BMW is all about, but once you get here, you may change your mind,” said Daniel Gubitosa, director of BMW’s Performance Center. “We don't say, 'Are you ready to buy?' We want you to feel comfortable with the brand. Do we want sales? Sure. But the better job we do showing off the car, the more likely you'll consider the brand.”
Now that you have some experiential marketing inspiration you can start to implement it for your own company. No matter what direction you decide to take, the key is for your experiential marketing to bring a new way for consumers to connect with your product that allows them to experience it how they want to.
You may also be interested in our blog on 4 Things You Need To Know About Experiential Marketing.