Creatively retool your branded experience programs.

June 24, 2020 | by hi-gloss

Thoughtfully curated events and programming cultivate new ideas, meaningfully connect people, and galvanizes audiences to take action like no other platform. For these reasons, they deliver impactful results. Ultimately, the benchmark of any medium is its ability to move your audience farther and faster, and branded experiences achieve this goal in a compelling way. During a time when large-scale events are either not permitted or discouraged (such as the major music festival Coachella, which showcases numerous branded activations), we need to rethink how to engage with our audiences. As we re-structure our marketing plans for the remainder of the year, here are a few ideas on how to approach these critically important experiential programs a bit differently.

Go virtual

Since Stay-at-Home orders were implemented three months ago, the flood of virtual activities was—and continues to be—abundant. Organizations all over the country ensured their robust schedule of programming wouldn’t become canceled. Instead, they re-envisioned many of their events and panel discussions to be hosted on Zoom and Facebook live.  Additionally, how-to webinars  DJ sets, and happy hours all took on new digital forms in the age of COVID-19. However, as consumers become inundated by the onslaught of available virtual programming, brands need to develop more creative campaigns to remain relevant and engaging.

Campari “reopened” what is dubbed as “the world’s best bars” over three weekends in June, set in New York, Rome and Edinburgh. On Friday, June 12th, Dante, a century-old watering hole in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, served Negroni’s and other Campari-based drinks during a virtual program from the Italian brand—all to raise funds for hard-hit hospitality workers. The virtual program also included live entertainment from the club’s three-piece jazz band.

These virtual gatherings with “limited seating” aim to provide a unique opportunity to learn more about the history and philosophy of the venues and hear some of their host’s best tales from behind the bar (all while teaching attendees how to make their own drinks).

Similar to your brand’s past activations, create syngery with partners that align with your mission and build personalized events to keep your audience engaged . In other words, translate your fantastic hospitality skills from the physical space to the virtual stage.

Trim the list

As brand’s consider launches of new collections and products, it is important to understand the local guidelines and sentiment among consumers. In some areas of the country, people are getting back to normal (with safety precautions in mind) at a faster rate than other cities deemed as “hot spots”. With this in mind, explore the opportunity to host intimate and exclusive events with a smaller footprint.

In the entertainment field, where live performances are the lifeblood of the industry, entertainers have found a way to successfully evolve in the virtual space. Comedian Dave Chappelle is giving live events a try through intimate, socially distant and invite-only shows near his hometown of Dayton, Ohio. Titled “Dave Chappelle & Friends: A Talk with Punchlines,” these comedy shows welcome roughly 100 attendees at each program. Attendees are required to wear masks for the entire performance while practicing social distanced seating.

Brand experiences are intended to expand the reach of your campaign, so be more selective with your guestlist to assure you are inviting social media influencers and local tastemakers who will amplify your brand’s voice to compensate for reduced event capacity .

Redistribute the funds creatively

As you assess the risk and liability of in-person events while evaluating your team’s ability to execute a strategic virtual event, you may find that these programs may not be beneficial for your brand during this time. If you have the luxury to rethink your planned activation budget, consider activating your brand in wholly unprecedented ways before you reallocate towards traditional media. Whether it’s a unique custom content program, a charitable donation aligned with a local partner, or a new digital activation to promote personal brand engagement with augmented reality—go back to the drawing board before playing it safe.

While Gucci has hosted virtual fashion shows over the course of the season, they have pulled back from their runway budget and doubled down on gaming. Gucci has teamed up with mobile tennis game Tennis Clash by allowing players to digitally discover exclusive outfits designed by the Italian fashion house. Additionally, players will also be able to purchase clothing to match their Tennis Clash character on Gucci’s website.

The bottom line? Get creative with reallocating your marketing budget. Brand experiences have an opportunity to evolve in new ways, and now is the time to capitalize on its potential by embracing innovative methods of virtual engagement.

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