Why Wimbledon is acing the power of experiential marketing
A view from Rob Hocknell

Why Wimbledon is acing the power of experiential marketing

Spark Foundry's head of strategy analyses why the Wimbledon Championships are making the most of a demand for "experiences" over "stuff".

As more people continue to value experiences over material items, the opportunity for brands to connect more deeply with consumers through experiential activity only looks set to increase.

This shift to ‘experiences’ over ‘stuff’ has been shown by various studies; one in particular by Eventbrite has shown that 65% of UK millennials prefer to spend money on experiences than on material things, giving rise to a growing ‘experience economy’. 

Wimbledon is a crown jewel in the UK’s sporting calendar, rich in tradition, style and excitement. The nation becomes gripped from the first ace to the lifting of the famous silverware. Home-grown successes are universally celebrated, from heavy hitter Andy Murray’s triumphs through to plucky wildcard first-round victors.

This is one brand that understands the brand power and influence it yields, recently announcing its intent to broaden the Championships’ global appeal, utilising the unique experience that a day at SW19 can deliver.

With recent tragic and divisive events rocking London and the UK, occasions such as Wimbledon have the power to unite a nation behind true celebration of sporting glories, providing a much welcome oasis of positivity. This unity and positivity can be felt from event attendees through to people organising impromptu barbecue screenings at home or in a local pub beer gardens.

Experiential activity has the potential to both capture an audience’s imagination and deliver a value exchange - from the moment attending an event is considered, right through to groups or individuals excitedly bursting through ticket gates.

Social media is a huge driver of the experience economy, as the more opportunities we have to show-off and share what we're doing, the more we want to do. Good experiential marketing has to therefore be instantly shareable

Despite The All England Club's famously tight restrictions on brands appearing onsite, there have been many excellent experiential brand activations around Wimbledon over recent years. Last year the Jaguar VR experience as part of their #feelwimbledon campaign was a real stand out for me. 

And it is AELTC’s encouragement of event sponsors to utilise new technologies and capitalise on the strong social media engagement shown by Wimbledon audiences that has only accelerated brand success in this area. For example in 2016 both Evian and Haagen-Dazs absolutely aced it with immersive experiences that tapped into a social generations thirst for short sharable content.

It will be very interesting to see how the AELTC’s future facing partnership with IBM develops this year, with the use of AI technology promising to allow fans to get the most out of their experience.

With on-site brand activity so tightly guarded at Wimbledon it is often the travel routes to and from the grounds that present the most obvious opportunity for experiential executions. Transport hubs such as Waterloo provide great environments to deliver brand experiences that are technologically advanced due to really strong digital infrastructure.

Also, the huge advances in location-based targeting we are experiencing allows brands to communicate with attendees throughout their journey and build anticipation for the experience they will deliver. Last year I loved drinks brand Robinson’s tactical placing of VR headsets in local supermarkets that allowed crowds to see matches as if sitting in an umpire’s chair.

Huge event brands such as Wimbledon leave consumers with vivid memories which are shared, spoken about and remain relevant months – even years – after they take place. In a world where material objects are so readily ordered and delivered, it's no wonder that we're increasingly craving these more raw experiences. For me, as a longstanding keen tennis fan, it’s always particularly interesting to see how a cross section range of brands leverage Wimbledon's wide appeal through experiential activity and inspire others to try it for themselves.

Rob Hocknell is head of strategy at Spark Foundry