In the past, tech and experiential roadshows weren’t natural bedfellows. The tech used to bring with it a rather large convoy of flight cases and miles of wiring, adding to the build times and activation costs. Often, the pay-off wasn’t worth the input as the dwell times simply weren’t there; people were either rushing from the train to the office, or shop to food court. They would see, stop, maybe sample, but not necessarily dwell.
This led to a marked reluctance from clients to invest in sophisticated, innovative roadshows, as the belief was that the time-poor consumer didn’t have the time to engage on any sort of deep and meaningful level.
However, more recently we’ve seen a shift in this attitude and a deeper appreciation of what we’ve been saying all along – if the idea is strong, the consumer will make time for it.
A great case in point is the recent ‘Fly Like Rufus’ activation we delivered for Stella Artois in Waterloo Station. Using Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard and a bespoke build, we were able to engage with consumers on-the-go in one of the UK’s busiest transport hubs, delivering a total brand experience none of them were likely to forget in a hurry, while always driving home the brand message associated with the activity.
Another example of deep engagement in a traditionally transient space was the St Kitts and British Airways experience at Victoria Station, which offered commuters a chance to win flights to the destination between 8.00am and 8.00pm. The innovative flight giveaway attracted thousands of entrants to a distinctive St Kitts stand, located on the main concourse, which allowed them to immerse themselves in a typical St Kitts ‘beach scene’ as they played to win.
The key insight here was that with a bespoke and engaging brand experience, situated in a high footfall area, brands can engage with time-poor consumers in a meaningful way.
Some key best practice points brands and agencies should consider when looking at this kind of activation:
- Look at the importance residency plays in ensuring the success of these types of activations. Yes, people participate on an ad-hoc basis but many walk past and think, ‘I’ll come back to that’. Thus, we should be in situ for at least four days in railways stations and at least seven in retail and leisure destinations to maximise consumer engagement.
- Let’s also look at the part great ‘incentives to participate’ play. These don’t have to be giveaways (although if we are offering giveaways they should be either high value or limited edition) to provide a real value for a consumer sacrificing their valuable time.
- Unique experiences act as strong hooks too. The Stella Artois ‘Fly Like Rufus’ activation used technology that many consumers may have heard of, but have not yet experienced, a powerful lure for someone who may have a 30-45 minute wait for their train…
But all of this can fall flat if there is no pre-promotion. Some of the best ideas and executions never make it to the consumer consciousness due to this error. Pre-promotion is often an afterthought for marketers, so make time for it.
So little in the marketing mix is truly ‘appointment to view’, in a world where most media experiences are ‘on demand’ for consumers, experiential offers the opportunity for a brand to carve out valuable time in a consumer's day, even in transit. Just don’t forget to let them know about it.
Fran Elliott is UK director of experiential and events at Momentum Worldwide.
More from Fran Elliott: Blog - The front line of total brand experience
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