Executing Proprietary Brand Events Instead of Sponsorships, Art-Inspired Activation Strategies, & Why Luxury Brands are Using Mansions as Event Venues (Elevate Connect)

Tying a brand activation to an existing cultural or public event is a tried and true marketing method that carries several benefits. Sporting events, music festivals, home and garden shows – each gathering has a built-in target audience and can be a plug-and-play marketing opportunity for brands. Yet, over the past few years, many large brands are taking sponsorship to the next level by executing their own proprietary events. This week’s Elevate White Board features an article that explores why this option is appealing for brands with the means and the infrastructure to execute. We also discuss the hospitality-driven experiences trend, and feature 5 art-inspired brand activation strategies.

Why Leading Brands are Ditching Sponsorship for Proprietary Events

When it comes to live brand engagement, many brands choose to go the sponsorship route. Sponsorship allows brands to have quality face time with target consumers, but the event coordinator handles logistics, execution and promotion of the event. While this strategy can be a good opportunity for exposure, some brands are ready to invest time and money into creating their own events.

In creating proprietary events, brands can shift the event’s focus. And, according to Adrian Santos of CLIF Bar, “have complete control and complete majority of voice.” A prime example is Corona’s Electric Beach program, in which the beer brand designed and executed events on rooftop bars and beaches. Corona’s intention, and that of other brands such as CLIF Bar and REI, is to create an immersive event that is dedicated to their brand. Directed by an approach of being “experience-leading and not sales-leading,” these brands are breaking out of the confines of sponsorship and executing events that best represent them.

HBO’s Multi-Layered Marketing Strategy Has Fans Pining for the New Season of Westworld

Lovers of science fiction television no doubt love the genre’s ability to transport them to different worlds (and universes), complete with other languages, species, and environments. From traveling on the USS enterprise to avoiding an attack by Cylons, these elaborate worlds provide opportunity within experiential marketing. HBO knows a good thing when they see it, and created an immersive marketing strategy to promote the second season of its fantasy show, Westworld.

The HBO marketing team designed several components that executed independently, but together created a “multi-pronged marketing campaign” that gave fans a 360-degree view of the world within the show. From creating a replica of the show’s town of Sweetwater at SXSW, to secret messages hidden within Super Bowl ads, HBO has used strategic and artistic creativity to generate intrigue and excitement leading up to this season’s premiere.

Reinventing Sponsorship Strategy to Embrace Brand Experiences

As mentioned above, sponsorships are a great opportunity for brands to buy into an existing experience. Sponsorship has also seen an evolution. Whereas once a sponsorship existed primarily in logos and branding placements, now hands-on consumer engagement strategies have become normative. This has allowed sponsoring brands to come to life and interact with attendees face-to-face. Brands are smart to approach sponsorship events as another opportunity to provide an immersive experience.

This article by FreemanXP highlights the different ways that brands can approach a sponsorship opportunity to interact with attendees. From a curiosity-inducing multi-sensory experience to non–endemic sponsors, the more distinctive and memorable an experience, the more impactful it is on attendees.

W Hotels Loyalty Members at Coachella Get a Chance at a Designer Yurt

It’s that time of year again, when Coachella becomes the primary destination for festival-goers everywhere. Thousands of people flock to the desert town of Indio, California, with hundreds of companies ready to execute elaborate brand experiences. This year, one activation stood out. W Hotel auctioned off designer yurts to their loyalty members. And these dwellings which were fully equipped with everything you’d find in a W Hotel room, including snacks and a personal concierge. The auction helped W Hotel solidify a rewarding relationship with their most loyal customers.

This particular execution is a prime example of ways in which more and more hotels are pivoting to experiential as a primary form of marketing. This is especially true with Millennials’ increased buying power, as this generation is more receptive to indulging on experiences. Check out a Q&A with the VP of the marketing agency behind the activation here.

Red Bull’s Underground Gaming Haven in London Gives Esports Fans a Place to Gather

Red Bull’s reputation in the experiential industry precedes them. Since the brand’s first Flugtag in 1991 to extreme sports competitions, the beverage brand has made their name synonymous with experiential marketing and extreme sports. In this vein, they’ve embarked on a new initiative and created a gaming haven for esports lovers to gather and share their passion.

Red Bull’s newest London arena includes a 190-inch LED screen, fully equipped with a gaming station tailored-made for tournaments. Red Bull is creating these elaborate environments to reach the millions of esports fans, a demographic that is growing but often overlooked. As PSFK puts it best, “by providing Gaming Spheres, Red Bull creates branded experiences” that help “provide the eSports community with much-needed locations in which to convene.”

Hospitality-Inspired Experiences are the New Experiential Marketing Trend to Watch

From hotels to restaurants, the hospitality industry is built around creating stand-out experiences for guests. Despite fluctuations in the economy, consumers have shown that they are still willing to invest in eating at restaurants, or will treat themselves to a stay-cation. The hospitality industry provides a welcoming environment where people can recreate, relax, and indulge. So, it’s not surprising that non-hospitality brands are designing brand experiences to mimic this type of environment.

Hospitality experiences like Jack Daniels’ House No. 7 hotel pop up and Audi’s Dome of Quattro use hospitality as their inspiration. As Factory 360 points out, any brand can incorporate this trend into their experiential events. The agency provides a few tips on how to best approach execution. Their key takeaway is, like hospitality establishments everywhere, to emphasize service above all.

The New Go-To Venue for Luxury Brands? Mansions

Sourcing locations for experiential activations or brand events can be a challenge for any company. Depending on budget, marketers need a location that caters to the target number and type of attendees. It needs to be equipped to meet the program’s goals, and more. But luxury brands have an added challenge, as many have an aesthetic they need to consider, which might not be easy to accommodate.

The answer for many luxury brands has become the use of mansions. Instead of opting for high-end restaurants and bars, mansions provide more freedom while speaking to the brands’ identity. Absolut Elyx, Lancôme and Harrods are all examples of top luxury brands who have jumped on this trend, as these spaces can provide an ideal event backdrop.

Five Standout Art-Inspired Activation Strategies

Art is a core component of almost every culture in the world, inspiring and influencing people from all backgrounds. In fact, research shows that art can affect people at an emotional level, sometimes evoking empathy or joy. Over the years, many brands have embraced this aspect of our culture and created art-driven experiential marketing events. From technology to music, brands have found success in not only providing a brand experience but a footprint that awed and inspired.

Sparks, in a recent blog post, shared a few examples of brands that found success in art-inspired experiential strategies. One was Googe’s I/O After Sessions, a series that combined art and technology. Read on to learn more.

Author: Elissa LiongElissa Liong is the Data and Analytics Manager at Elevate Staffing. She's a certain kind of particular, and loves thinking about all things data and insights. When she's not uncovering consumer insights and building out engagement tools that people love, she is probably at the gym or reading online spoilers about TV shows (even for episodes she hasn’t watched yet).


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