Experiential Marketing Summit 2022

4 Practical Takeaways from EMS 2022

That Will Up Your Experiential Marketing Game

This year’s Experiential Marketing Summit at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas was filled with great speakers and networking sessions. Here are four practical takeaways that you can use in your experiential marketing efforts.

1. Reality Check Your Experiential Marketing Ideas

Everyone is talking experiential these days. But do we all mean the same thing?
Experiential marketing is about creating a meaningful two-way interaction between a brand and the target audience in real-time. Todd Kaplan, VP, Head of Marketing at Pepsi, has a great no-nonsense approach to determining if your experiential marketing campaign hits the mark. It starts by clearly identifying your audience and making an opt-in experience that is distinct and memorable. You need to ask yourself a few key questions to determine if you are creating a meaningful connection with them.

The hard part of this exercise is being honest with yourself and not falling for your own hype. However, when we stop approaching marketing as advertising and start engaging with our customers, the payoff is enormous. So, the next time you plan an experiential campaign, ask yourself these critical questions.

Would you:

  • Participate in the event?
  • Remember the event?
  • Talk to a friend about it?
  • Watch a video or read about it?
  • Share information about the event with a friend?

2. Sustainability – Just Get Started

Creating more sustainable events is a big challenge for event marketers today. Many brands have published lofty sustainability goals for themselves, while others feel paralyzed with no idea where to begin. The number one thing you can do is just get started. Don’t feel overwhelmed trying to tackle everything all at once. Simply start with a single goal and achieve it. Then set another goal and knock that one out of the park.

Lessons from the Sustainability in Events: Where to Begin What Matters Most session

Brittany Price – Director of Sustainable Operations at MGM Resorts International, and Desiree Hamilton – Leader-Global Events, Sales and Partner Event Operations at Cisco, shared some great insights on their approach. Desiree’s action plan with MGM Resorts serves as a great blueprint. Cisco decided to tackle food waste as their first step to more sustainable events. By working with MGM Resorts, they found a way to donate extra food from their events to local shelters. Her next step was to move away from single-use water bottles. She then followed that up by working with exhibitors to eliminate giveaways that were not eco-friendly.

Inspiration from the Hall of Ideas

In the Hall of Ideas, several companies showcased sustainable giveaways. One of our favorites was Fill it Forward. We were excited to chat with their team to learn how their reusable water bottles, cups and bags are making an impact. Each product features a scannable tag that lets you track your environmental impact on their free Fill it Forward app. In addition to having a positive impact on the environment, Fill it Forward makes donations to provide fresh water to those in need.

We have begun taking steps at our company to reduce our environmental impact. It starts with recycling whatever we can, including metal from old booths, old electronics, scrap acrylic from our shop and all the usual stuff like paper, cardboard, and plastic bottles. In addition, we donate used furniture to local thrift shops and old carpets to a local airplane hangar. Our next goal is to find a way to recycle, reuse or repurpose discarded fabric graphics and wood scraps.

3. Think Outside the Box for Partnerships

Partnerships are agreat way to show up in a meaningful way for your audience and expand your reach.

Jamey Sunshine, Nestle’s USA Head of Experiential, shared one such story. Nesquik wanted to expand its market share for chocolate milk. Traditionally seen as a lunchtime treat or a nostalgic drink for adults, Nesquik wished to reposition themselves as a beverage for young men between the ages of 18 and 35, who also happened to be really into sneaker culture and sports. By forging several partnerships with brands like Majorwavez and Squadz, they created a meaningful way for this audience to interact with their brand and genuinely participate in an activity their audience enjoyed.

Michelob Ultra realized they were a perfect match for the health and fitness space with their low calorie, low carb beer. They wanted to bring the fun to wellness, so they started Movement Live. Arielle Swanson, Director-Experiential, Michelob Ultra, discussed how they grew the Movement Live campaign through strategic partnerships with health and wellness brands to create in-person and virtual events.

Experiential marketing done right means meeting your customers where they are. Both brands nailed it with their campaigns. So, who is your unlikely partner?

4. Create a Lasting Engagement – Not Just a Single Moment

Another essential component of a great experiential marketing campaign is to give it life after the face-to-face event ends. We have this discussion regularly with our clients when it comes to their tradeshow events. Several of the sessions featured some excellent examples.

Reimagining Pop-ups As Fan Hubs: Behind the Scenes of Bowie 75

This session was about creating a lasting engagement that now lives on at bowie75.com. Lawrence Peryer, Producer for Bowie 75 and Zoe Ganch, Creative Director at Factory 360, shared the many elements that made the campaign a big hit. This limited-time experience with retail pop-ups in New York and London celebrated the life of David Bowie. The experience appealed to both die-hard David Bowie fans and a new generation who were discovering him for the first time. The Bowie75 website initially provided information on in-store events and later became a digital homage to Bowie. Visitors can revisit the 360 Reality Audio Livestream, see the many messages left for Bowie at the pop-up tours, check out thousands of #bowie75 Instagram posts, and buy merchandise to take a little piece of Bowie home.

Michelob Ultra Movement Live

Movement Live is another excellent example of a campaign that included unique, interactive viewing experiences on its website. Viewers could live stream events, participate in giveaways, chat and live polls and shop for merchandise. The platform has grown to include a diverse library of videos, including featured workouts, health and wellness tips, guided meditation and more so that you too can Grab a Workout and Grab A Beer – all from the comfort of your home.

In her Friday morning keynote, Ronnie Yoked, Head of Experiential at Anheuser-Busch, summed it up perfectly. When building a campaign, think about scalability from end to end. Make sure visitors get the same brand experience across all platforms. Go back to your roots and meet your audience where they are. For Bud Light, Dive Bar tours were the perfect match. Lastly, experiences require rich content and context – connecting you and your audience in a genuine way that is true to your brand.