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Experience Counts

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If content is king, then it had better make room on the throne for the branded experience, writes Barry Muldowney.

The events business has evolved massively since I entered the industry over 16 years ago. Everything from the technology to the materials available for use have been re-born annually, it’s a fast-paced industry, matched only by the speed of tech advancements.

Events have taken on new meaning and are now experience led. The question is; how can the event be personailsed and focused on the individual rather than the collective? How do you make the people in a crowd feel like individuals?

Every client has come to expect the best, the wow factor that makes you stand out from the crowd, we’re all looking for the newest innovation. In search of this, the phrase “something different” gets thrown around quite a lot – Whether it be design, technology or entertainment, we can sometimes fall into the trap of not suggesting something because we have seen it before but forget the majority of the public probably have not.

It’s important to remember that during the blur of innovation that it’s the simple ideas executed brilliantly that end up being the most effective. For example, Marriott Hotels “Super Bowl Sleep Over Contest” was a clever way of bringing the brand’s sponsorship right into the heart of the biggest sporting event in America. They took over a corporate box and transformed it into one of their hotel bedrooms which two lucky winners got to sleep in the night before the big game and wake up in the stadium. The detail of the recreation of the room was incredible and the experience was enhanced further by NFL stars greeting guests as Hotel workers. This was a perfect example of where creativity managed to take a brand’s objective and turn it into a consumer led experience.

Nothing can compete with branded physical experiences, immersive places where consumers can really interact with a product. A prime example would be the opening of Amazon’s real-life store. The store was set up to beat queues but ironically, the store became so popular that the queues grew unusually long, acting as evidence that this famously digital service had a huge physical demand.

Taking the brand promise off the page and making it a living experience is something that should be the focus of every brand manager. They need to think about where consumers can experience their product beyond the store. The Magnum Pleasure Store or the Heinz Beanz Café are both samples of how a brand can succeed by making its brand values a more tangible experience.

Trends have shown that the public has shifted from consumption to experience. Consumers demand experiential value. With so much information, choice and availability how else can brands cut through that noise and get front and centre with their target audience? The live experience isn’t an extra to be added if budget allows, it’s a serious strategic must from a branding perspective and one that will only see exponential growth as tech progresses and consumer expectations continue to rise. It’s an exciting time to work in an industry with so much potential and we look forward to what incredible innovations the future holds.

Barry Muldowney is head of events with Verve, The Live Agency

First published in Irish Marketing Journal (IMJ February 2018)© to order back issues please call 016611660