Doug Dunkin is Senior VP of Experiential Marketing and leads the experiential integration with all of The Marketing Arm’s practices, including Entertainment, Sports, Cause, Digital, Social, Promotions, Multicultural, and Shopper Marketing.
Q: TMA is all about harnessing emotion. How does emotion factor into creating a memorable brand experience?
A: Evoking desired emotions is a vital part of any brand ed experience.
Consumers want to be stimulated, entertained, educated, creatively challenged and most importantly emotionally affected. It is through these desires that brand s and marketers effectively engage consumers to move them through the purchase funnel.
The emotional connection created through brand ed experiences acts as bridge to a consumer’s core identity. When staged correctly, these emotional bridges unlock reservations and open consumers’ hearts and minds to new possibilities. Once unlocked, we’re able to transport consumers to a desired frame-of-mind, and place them in the center of the brand story. These experiences gratify consumers’ need for emotional satisfaction, as well as create image-shaping footprints that help create short-term and long-term favorable sentiment and loyalty to a brand .
Q: How are technology trends shaping experiential delivery?
A: On a macro-level, if I were to answer this question 10 years ago, by comparison I’d say it has little impact on our space, other than some behind-the-scenes operational advancements or website integrations. 5 years ago, I’d say we’re pushing technology – utilizing technology experiences to send consumers to micro-sites to download and share a photo from a brand ed event – but somewhat still forced, as the adoption of smart phones and social media platforms were low. However, today, we’re 100% being pulled by technology – in organic and natural or seamless ways. Technology today is no longer that cool, unique component of an event that attracts consumers; rather it is the new norm. Consumers come to events expecting to engage with our brand s through both physical and digital means, and we need to be prepared to facilitate these expectations.
On a micro-level, the evolution of technology has shaped the “Who,” the “What,” and the “How” of brand ed experiences.
We’re in an age where we can literally select the consumers we want to engage. Through social media platforms and influencer identification tools, we can now very effectively and efficiently identify the consumers that have the highest Reach, Relevance and Resonance – relative to a brand ’s marketing objectives.
By micro-targeting our consumers, we’re able to create richer experiences that carry more relevance and ultimately deliver higher marketing investment returns.
There is no clear line between where physical experiences end digital experiences begin. It’s the convergence of technology and the shift of consumer application of technology that has blurred these lines. We no longer live in an online/offline world – we’re always online. For that reason the “What” has become a petri dish of digital and physical experimentation and innovation within the experiential marketing space.
There are some fascinating and very engaging technologies that are becoming commonplace within our space, however we never start with the technology. Possibilities of how to engage are endless, therefore we always start with the consumer, and ask what story do we want them to experience. From there we use technology to help us tell that story. Through this approach we’re often playing in technological places that may not exist yet.
As a result, we no longer force technology into an experience, rather we seamlessly integrate it where consumers intuitively use it to facilitate and elevate a brand experience.
Q: Give an example of an effective experiential marketing campaign.
A: Effective experiential marketing campaign has the following characteristics:
- Tells a story worth sharing
- Creatively brings a brand to life across all 5 senses
- Is amplifiable beyond the first-person
- It’s effectiveness is measurable and delivers positive marketing value
There are many great examples – from varying size and budgets – but the program I’m most proud of and feel accomplished all the objectives was Nintendo’s Super Mario 3D Land launch event.
On November 12, 2011, Times Square became fully immersed in Super Mario 3D Land . From the real-life world that brought the 3D elements of the game to life to the digital integrations with an ABC SuperSign takeover and online video content, consumers and reporters from around the world had the opportunity to experience the launch of this new title for the Nintendo 3DS.
To open the event, an acrobatic group of “mass Marios” performed for the media, providing video and photo opportunities. Joining reporters for the opening performance was Jon Bon Jovi and his family.
Once the event officially opened, media and consumers were given Mario Tanooki ears and tails and then had the opportunity to literally step into the game through a life-sized Nintendo 3DS unit where they could run, jump and slide through Mario’s World. Trampolines triggered iconic game sounds as people jumped for a coin or Question Mark block and massive sound-filled warped pipes transitioned into the flagpole finale for a photo opportunity. After exploring the 3D world, people could go to the sampling tent for a hand s-on trial of new game prior to it officially hitting shelves the next day.
We amplified the on-site and online experiences with key digital integrations. Within Times Square, the ABC Jumbotron displayed Super Mario 3D Land content and live event tweets that earned consumers free slices of Mario-themed pizza. Additionally, we posted the time-lapse video of the event build-out and an event video capturing the overall consumer experience to Nintendo’s YouTube Channel that continues to be viewed and enjoyed today.