As brands see more and more people use ad blockers, tune out TV spots or cut the cord altogether, it’s easy to see why Jaguar, Absolut, Mastercard and more are turning to experiential marketing, which they say has the potential to create direct connections and more meaningful relationships with consumers.
“It’s more and more difficult to succeed through traditional advertising,” says Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing officer for Mastercard, which revamped its marketing strategy a few years ago to focus on experiences. “With the amount of clutter you’ve got to cut through, the attention span of the consumer going down—six seconds is what they say the attention span of a human being is, less than a goldfish—so how do you get past that hurdle and then inspire consumers?”
Enter experiential. In a perfect world, here’s how an experiential marketing effort would play out for consumers: You’d encounter a brand experience, find it so awesome that you’d post about it on your social channels (where more people would hear about it), give the brand your contact information (so that they could send you emails and offers and put you in touch with a local retailer), and become more likely to purchase something from said brand.
“I like to say, ‘What takes traditional advertising weeks, months or years to do, we can do in a moment,’” says Bryan Icenhower, president of WME’s experiential agency IMG Live, which works with brands like Marriott, Subway and Budweiser. “Experiential is a uniquely fast and effective way to build brand awareness through one-to-one connections with consumers. It engages all five senses, sparking emotions that form lasting memories which have been shown to drive brand loyalty.”
With a promise like that, it’s easy to see why marketers are shifting dollars into experiential marketing. According to the Freeman Global Brand Experience Study, which was released in May by brand experience agency Freeman and data company SSI, one in three CMOs is expected to allocate between 21 and 50 percent of their budget to brand experience marketing over the next three to five years.