When the pandemic started, the event world stopped. Once it was clear that lockdown and social distancing would be our best strategy, canceled and delayed events were all but inevitable. This forced those of us who produce events to completely rethink, well, everything.
Now that we are growing accustomed to a world in which we will need to coexist with the virus (for now), we are also learning that brands can continue to engage with people experientially. But those engagements require more planning, consideration, and, above all, creativity. It will take a truly special concept to convince people to leave their homes, put on their masks, and head out into an entirely new public sphere.
Brand activations have always required attention to detail, but a strategic approach is that much more important in the time of COVID-19.
In addition to piquing consumers’ interest, today’s events must abide by guidelines for slowing the spread of the disease. What’s more, brands need to provide people reassurance and environments that put their minds at ease.
All this is a tall order, but companies that tackle these essentials will stay front-of-mind with consumers and gain an edge.
Consider the following creative brand activation ideas that not only check off the safety boxes but are capable of delivering marketing ROI at a time when most brands are looking for a win.
Over the past few decades, drive-in restaurants and movie theaters were few and far between outside of fast food. Now, driving in has become a revelation in combining comfort and social distancing. In the world of experiential and beyond, drive-thru concepts are allowing people to come together and have fun, while still saying “apart”. We are even seeing couples use drive-ins as a means of hosting a wedding.
In their original form, drive-ins primarily provided entertainment, while drive-thrus allowed for the swift exchange of goods. Today, this same concept rings true, with drive-ins offering an excellent opportunity for entertaining consumers or conducting product demonstrations. Meanwhile, drive-thrus can help brands deliver swift, safe, and effective product sampling campaigns, for example.
Across the board, when applied to the event marketing sphere, these concepts are a fantastic solution in which people and brands can interact without compromising consumers or event staff.
Sometimes, the apparent limitations that seem to dampen our marketing plans force ingenuity and can even prompt better activations. This is certainly the case for Jägermeister, which is using their “Ice Cold Convoy” to conduct killer sampling campaigns that maintain effective social distancing but still show off the brand’s cool style. In addition to implementing their “pour and step away” protocol, these events use the vehicles themselves to serve as an effective, fun and branded barrier.
The Jägermeister campaign delivers a dynamic experience complete with music from playlists or even DJs, depending on the size and design of the vehicle. Additionally, the vehicle’s evocative design provides yet another marketing opportunity by prominently displaying the iconic Jägermeister logo. Together, these elements allow for memorable brand activations that abide by our new era’s many safety objectives. And the best part? The Convoy is evergreen, making it a great concept both within and outside of the confines of the pandemic.
No matter how clever your campaign is or how many steps you take to keep attendees safe, some consumers won’t be interested in participating in an event that requires in-person participation. Thankfully, today’s advanced tools and technologies offer an appealing alternative: digital events, which involve anything from Zoom chats to Facebook Live.
It makes sense to mention that, even before the pandemic, brands have been increasingly experimenting with hybrid events. This mix of live and digital allows for some in-person interaction while keeping many aspects of the experience online. For example, small events involving influencers minimize exposure and are easier when enforcing social distancing. And, during such events, brands can provide dynamic digital content, both live and through the influencers’ networks.
While these offerings may not completely replace a large-scale, in-person gathering, they still provide an opportunity for brands to connect with followers while showing that they value their safety and comfort. And just like live events, with the right event staff engaging the audience, your brand will be set up to make an impact.
In a presentation for EventEx Connect, Elevate’s COO spoke to the importance of event staff planning for all events, including hybrid and digital. The main takeaway? Scalable teams filled with professional people who are highly skilled in consumer engagement can make any event far more memorable for attendees. This, in turn, leads to a higher ROI.
It’s natural to mourn the many opportunities for consumer engagement that have been lost to the pandemic. If there’s a silver lining, however, it’s that this situation forces us to find new creative brand activation ideas to connect with consumers. And the sooner we harness these opportunities, the better for us all.
What experiential marketing opportunities are you most looking forward to implementing as you seek solutions for the limitations imposed by COVID? Let us know!