Brand-talent partnerships around milestone events have their own rules, risks and rewards.
Whether at the Oscars, Grammys or Super Bowl, brands have long paired talent with these moment-in-time cultural events to drive impact with a desired audience.
These key events can be a brand’s foot in the door to participate in a cultural conversation, take advantage of heightened awareness around a specific moment in the calendar and engage audiences in ways non-event campaigns can’t.
And when you add talent executions into the mix? The spotlight is already bright, so mixing talent into the fold can have a significant amplifying effect, one way or another.
Cultural moments such as the Super Bowl pose a unique set of challenges and opportunities for experiential influencer marketing and yesterday’s event gave us some key takeaways for success in this new age of influence.
Prioritise your audience
Simply put, events give you more ways to leverage talent in how you reach your audience, whether that’s at-home viewers, event attendees, the community of the hosting city or those engaging with the event across online platforms.
Media still romances TV ads around big events and most think about talent in this traditional capacity [see Olay's Super Bowl spot, pictured]. Reaching audiences with talent through online avenues is increasingly high stakes these days. 2020 is officially the year of TikTok challenges tied to events and there was no shortage of that around this year’s game. But it’s an event. It exists in real time, on the ground and in person. Nine times out of 10, you want to take advantage of this reality.
To ensure a robust and multifaceted approach to these cultural moments, you should consider questions such as: does your brand leverage experiential activations at the event site and across geographies? As well as targeting the consumer, are you also looking at business-to-business activations or VIP event executions?
It’s easy to pull big talent-based event activations together first and assume 1+1=3. But lose sight of the end target audience and how to best reach them, and you’ll be a step behind when budgets get stretched too thin to reach your priority audience successfully. So start at the end customer and work backwards. Who are you trying to reach? Which different pathways does an event-related execution give you to reach these audiences? Build out your strategy from here.
(Talent) labels are lousy
Who do you use for an event execution – a celebrity, an influencer or neither?
Celebrities and influencers exist on the same spectrums of evaluation – reach, resonance and relevance. When you are determining audiences and the right pathways to reach them, evaluating these talent attributes in parallel is a must and you shouldn’t box yourself in from the start.
One of my favourite engagements at this year’s Super Bowl had a panel of knowledgeable talent speaking to a VIP audience on football 101, educating 100 international brand guests on the ins and outs of this US sport that the panellists loved. Content was captured and pushed, too, sharing the insights and entertainment with valued online audiences who needed to be reached. The panel itself was diverse, including an actor, a musician, a supermodel and an athlete – all from diverse fields and backgrounds but with a shared passion for the game that made them the perfect fit.
Don’t focus on the label of "influencer" or "celebrity"; instead, focus on evaluating a talent’s assets – what attributes do you need from a talent to reach the desired audience and deliver through the right activation? Be label-agnostic for the best results.
Win with your ground game
When you do execute on site, it’s your team in the trenches who really makes the difference.
Miami was abuzz this year, with talent-driven experiential executions at record levels. Chalk talks, concerts, hospitality appearances, charity engagements, media events – the list goes on. Winning brand executions were planned and evolved in real time, and the smart teams on site stayed vigilant until everything wrapped.
These cultural moments present unique opportunities for brands to amplify their reach, but there’s also an increased level of risk that must be accounted for with a live event. Brands must be prepared to adapt and evolve on the go, be nimble to overcome real-time challenges and account for all-important logistics.
Lastly, momentous events have become cultural collision at its finest
As audiences and interests increasingly overlap, these events are great opportunities for brands to participate in conversation that is no longer solely bound to the category it originated in. This age of influence allows a blurring of lines between labels, a greater-than-ever diversity of talent to partner with and a shorter-than-ever distance between talent and audience.
The Super Bowl is no longer just for football fans and the Oscars not just for moviegoers. These moments offer a great opportunity for increased attention and expanded reach across audiences, so a more considered and broad talent selection is necessary for experiential activations. When executed successfully, brands can really take advantage of the audience overlap for music, sport, Hollywood and fashion.
Existing talent truths still hold and authenticity remains key. Brand, event or talent success is only sustainable if it’s organic and the connection and interest between the those involved is real.
When executing talent activations in connection with a cultural moment, think through the above – evaluate all paths to your priority audiences, ditch labels to consider talent options objectively and invest in your real-time execution expertise to maximise the moment.
Michael Jacobson is senior vice-president at ITB Worldwide