Experiential Marketing – How Experience Can Boost Brand Image & Loyalty

Experiential marketing is just one of many different marketing tactics used by businesses to spread the word about their products and services. 

Regardless of the marketing strategy, the technique’s goal is universal – to have an emotional impact on the consumer to elicit brand awareness and loyalty. 

However, not all marketing strategies are created equal, and the real challenge comes in selecting a marketing strategy that will work best for your particular brand. 

Still, when it comes to emotionally impacting consumers, experiential marketing is one of the best strategies. 

If you’re wondering if an experiential marketing strategy is right for your business and want specific examples of what effective campaigns look like, you have come to the right place.

Read on to learn more about experiential marketing and discover the answers to the following questions:

What is Experiential Marketing?

Experiential marketing, also known as engagement marketing, uses face-to-face interactions with consumers to build brand awareness to connect with them on an emotional and personal level. 

The primary objective of experiential marketing is to provide consumers with an experience that will evoke a strong, positive emotional response. Using real-world interactions to connect with consumers allows brands to engage all five senses and elicit emotions that will establish long-term memories and accurately communicate brand personality

This emotional impact on the consumer is thus associated with the brand, creating a lasting positive outlook on its products or services. In this way, experiential marketing strategies are highly effective in building brand awareness and loyalty. 

Common examples of experiential marketing activities include:

  • Trade shows
  • Auto shows
  • Sponsorships
  • In-store experiences
  • Special events

When utilizing experiential marketing events, brands must focus on their direct interaction with consumers rather than the event itself. 

Put simply, when hosting events, brands that wish to partake in experiential marketing cannot forget to establish a way for consumers to directly interact with their brand, ensuring the event is about engagement and not just the presence of their target market. 

Overall, the idea behind experiential marketing is to create an immersive and memorable experience for consumers to help establish a strong bond between them and the brand.

Establishing a clear and unique brand personality allows you to set your business apart from the rest. Read more in “Brand Personality – Why Personality Matters in Business.”

The Power of Experiential Marketing

Experiential marketing is a powerful and effective tool for many reasons. 

Firstly, these types of marketing campaigns are conducive to establishing brand loyalty with current customers and brand awareness among potential customers. This synergy results in a very favourable return on investment.

Experiential marketing serves to build brand awareness by creating enticing scenarios, experiences and events that encourage individuals to learn more about your business, serving as a significant contributor to your business’s overall PR strategy

Through experiential marketing, business owners can generate creative, interactive, engaging and memorable experiences for and with their audience. These types of emotional experiences are not often possible with other forms of traditional marketing. 

Instead, these experiences help build trust and a strong bond with consumers by evoking genuine and positive emotions.

Most notably, however, is the ability of experiential marketing to go beyond customer interaction. Not only does experiential marketing allow brands to connect with consumers on an authentic and emotional level, but it also allows them to gather insight about their target market that can help inform future campaigns and business decisions.

Developing a strong PR strategy is critical in creating a strong, recognizable brand and overall successful business. Learn more “PR Strategy – Your Guide to Developing a Killer Public Relations Strategy.”

Examples of Successful Experiential Marketing Campaigns

There are many creative companies out there doing extraordinary things when it comes to experiential marketing. 

While not all organizations will have the budget to pull off such outlandish and expensive campaigns, you can still develop more scalable ideas by learning about certain aspects and advantages of these more extensive campaigns.

Below are ten examples of some of the most successful experiential marketing campaigns:

Red Bull’s Stratos Jump

red bull experiential marketing
In October 2012, Red Bull took experiential marketing to an entirely new level by having skydiver Felix Baumgartner perform a world-record-breaking jump as the world watched on. Credit: Red Bull

The Campaign

Red Bull ran an experiential campaign back in October 2012 in which Felix Baumgartner, a skydiver from Austria, performed a death-defying jump – the “Stratos” jump

This world-record breaking skydive occurred from 128,000 feet. For perspective, that’s approximately 24 miles, or nearly 39 kilometres, above the Earth’s surface. 

Red Bull live-streamed the entire event on YouTube, from Baumgartner’s ascent in a helium-balloon and preparation to the record-breaking jump.

The Outcome

As one can imagine, a record-breaking stunt can evoke a lot of emotion in people, especially one of this death-defying nature. Witnessing Baumgartner’s ascent and jump before safely landing back on the Earth’s surface triggered feelings of fear, suspense and finally relief and accomplishment, bringing together the brand and consumers in a celebratory bond. 

As a result of their marketing efforts, Red Bull set another record in the process – the most viewed live stream ever to be broadcast on YouTube. The live stream had over 8 million viewers, all of whom were affected by this impactful marketing experience. 

Additionally, Red Bull will remain in the record books, making them forever known for their marketing stunt. Overall, the strategy was a huge success, thanks to Red Bull’s ability to create an emotional experience for consumers.

Volkswagen’s Piano Staircase

Volkswagen harnessed experiential marketing to put a positive twist on a menial task, walking up the stairs, by making it more fun. Credit: Volkswagen 

The Campaign

In 2009, Volkswagen decided to take “The Fun Theory,” or the idea that people are more willing to partake in something that looks fun, to the street. Overnight, they transformed a set of subway stairs in Stockholm, Sweden, into a giant, interactive fully-functional piano. 

They then captured people on video using the stairs to create music as they walked up and down. Although the strategy appeared to be all fun and games, its purpose went a little deeper. Volkswagen intended to demonstrate people’s willingness to do things that look like fun while promoting healthy habits in the process. 

They believed that one of the best ways to change a person’s behaviour is to make that healthy behaviour more fun. With their genius campaign, Volkswagen succeeded in doing just that. As a result of their life-sized piano staircase, 66% more people than usual took the stairs at that particular subway entrance.

The Outcome

Bringing fun and enjoyment to the mundane is a great way to elicit a positive response. This creative notion was the backbone of Volkswagen’s success with this experiential campaign. Not only was the brand able to create a positive and noteworthy encounter, but it also offered insight into human behaviour as a memorable takeaway for their audience. 

By impacting the whole community with their strategy, Volkswagen positioned itself as a memorable brand in the public’s eyes at large, not only their target market. This strategy is incredibly beneficial, as all consumers can help to build brand awareness. 

Even for those subway-goers who may not purchase a Volkswagen vehicle, the experience resulted in a memorable outcome that will be shared with others, helping to promote word-of-mouth marketing.

Rick & Morty’s Rickmobile

Rickmobile Cartoon Network
Cartoon Network took their experiential marketing campaign on the road with the Rickmobile to promote the return of hit animated series Rick & Morty on Adult Swim. Credit: Instagram @rickmobile

The Campaign

The Rickmobile was part of an experiential marketing strategy to promote the return of hit animated series Rick & Morty. A giant car shaped like Rick, one of the main characters on the show, drove around the United States, attracting attention wherever it went. 

The Rickmobile created quite the buzz, attracting crowds of people wherever it stopped. The Cartoon Network, the brains behind the strategy, promoted the bizarre stunt on social media, resulting in a viral marketing campaign. 

They provided a live page on the Adult Swim website, informing people of where the Rickmobile would be next. As a result, people came in droves to take pictures with and experience the car for themselves.

A successful viral marketing campaign can bring a substantial amount of new customers to your business and amplify your key messaging outside of your target audience, further extending your reach. Learn more about “Viral Marketing – Marketing in the Information Age.”

The Outcome

Not only was the Cartoon Network successful in drawing attention to the return of their show Rick & Morty, but they also created a snowball effect with their choice of marketing tactic. Due to the vehicle’s unusual appearance, people were eager to take pictures and share their experiences on social media. 

In addition to spreading its influence via word of mouth and social media, the brand also allowed people to enter the vehicle to buy show-related merchandise. This strategy’s emotional experience was one of anticipation, excitement, and intrigue, leading the campaign to be successful in garnering viral attention. 

By evoking these emotions, the Cartoon Network created a shareable encounter, even for people who usually wouldn’t be interested in the cartoon.

The Ghostbusters Movie’s Marshmallow Man

experiential marketing ghost busters
To promote the Ghostbusters remake released in 2016, a real-lift gigantic version of the Stay Puft Marshmallow man was installed at Waterloo Station in London. Credit: Instagram @reichl_reichl_reichl

The Campaign

For the release of the Ghostbusters remake in 2016, the brand created a real-life version of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from the movie. They had him breaking through the concourse floor of Waterloo station in London. 

A pop-up shop was also set up in the station. Created to look like a New York City subway station, the shop allowed consumers to purchase movie tickets, as well as movie memorabilia. 

The campaign also took advantage of social media, providing onlookers with a hashtag to use when sharing their experience.

The influence of a pop-up shop extends beyond a physical retail space to extend your brand’s reach to a new pool of potential customers. Learn more in “Pop-Up Shop – How a Pop-up Shop Amplifies Your Brand.”

The Outcome

Due to the strategy’s unexpected, intriguing nature, this campaign successfully created a social media buzz. Along with the additional advertising that the movie received online from commuters sharing their pictures of the encounter, the strategy was also able to create a memorable experience for onlookers. 

By offering movie tickets and merchandise for purchase, marketers also capitalized on the experience by promoting sales. Unexpected experiences can result in an increase in pleasure in the brain. 

Therefore this surprising stunt was one that was successful in garnering brand awareness.

Coca-Cola’s World Cup Augmented Reality Experience

In a creative experiential marketing campaign, fans could test their soccer skills with one of Switzerland’s most famous soccer players to promote the 2018 Fifa World Cup. Credit: Grand Visual Theory Ltd

The Campaign

To kick off the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Coca-Cola developed an augmented reality experience outside of a train station in Zurich, Switzerland. 

People passing by could test out their soccer skills with one of Switzerland’s star players, Xherdan Shaqiri, take a virtual photo with him, and even enter a competition that would allow them to win a match ball from one of the FIFA World Cup games.

The Outcome

Allowing fans and non-fans to experience something new and exciting like augmented reality is a great way to establish a special connection. By associating itself with a well-known and loved sporting event, Coca-Cola was able to see great success with this strategy. 

Not only did the immersive experience create a memorable outcome for participants, but it also allowed Coca-Cola to engage with soccer fans during an exciting time. Therefore, the memory of this world-wide event became associated with Coca Cola, resulting in long-standing brand awareness.

The Simpsons Movie’s Kwik-E-Marts

Simpsons Kwik-E-Mart
This experiential marketing campaign from 20th Century Fox brought to life a location from the beloved TV series, The Simpsons, the Kwik-E-Mart. Credit: Instagram @lambodime69

The Campaign

Whether or not you’re a Simpsons fan, you’ve probably heard of Kwik-E-Mart. 

Capitalizing on the recognizability of this iconic brand, 20th Century Fox decided to turn twelve 7-Eleven stores into Kwik-E-Marts to promote their new Simpsons movie.

 In addition to the store-front allure, the Kwik-E-Marts stocked popular items from the show, including KrustyO’s cereal, Buzz Cola and Squishee frozen drinks. 

Life-size characters from the beloved series were also in the stores, providing additional photo opportunities.

The Outcome

Allowing fans to interact with their favourite fictional places and characters in real life can have a huge impact. 

Not only will they remember this experience for years to come, but bringing imaginary worlds to life gives them a reason to talk about and share their experience with others. 

This is why 20th Century Fox’s Kwik-E-Mart experiential marketing strategy was such a success. Besides creating a buzz online, allowing fans to take home popular items from the show allowed the brand to remain top-of-mind as the movie premiere approached.

IKEA’s Slumber Party

Popular furniture manufacturer IKEA put a fun and creative spin on experiential marketing by inviting 100 customers to have a slumber party in one of their stores. Credit: IKEA UK

The Campaign

Who hasn’t wanted to spend the night at their favourite store? 

IKEA took advantage of this desire and turned it into a reality. In 2011, IKEA invited guests to have a sleepover in one of their stores in Essex in England. 

Not only did the 100 participants get to spend the night in an IKEA, but they were also given manicures and massages, read a bedtime story by a reality TV star, and provided with a sleep expert to help them learn about good sleep habits. 

The sleep expert also helped sleepover guests choose and potentially buy the best mattress for their needs.

The Outcome

The campaign was a complete success, with nearly 100,000 people hoping to take part in the sleepover. For those 100 who got to live out their dream, the experience will forever be a powerful and exciting memory to share with others. 

Incorporating your target audience’s dreams into an experiential strategy is a great way to create a memorable and buzz-worthy experience. This is why IKEA’s concept was such a hit. 

In addition, allowing participants to work with an exclusive sleep expert to find the perfect mattress was a valuable feature of the strategy that further promoted sales.

Smirnoff’s Comic Book Party

smirnoff party
Famous vodka brand Smirnoff provided customers with a memorable experiential marketing experience through a comic book-themed event called “Graphic.” Credit: Shutterstock

The Campaign

Smirnoff created the experience of a lifetime for partygoers with a comic book-themed event. The party was entirely immersive with full-sized graphic comic illustrations adorning the venue and brand representatives, servers and bartenders dressed as comic book characters.

The Outcome

By creating a fully immersive and consistent experience, Smirnoff provided a memorable encounter for the attendees of its comic book party. In fact, an immersive experience where consumers can interact with the brand is the epitome of experiential marketing. 

From snapping and sharing pictures online to discussing the event with others, Smirnoff’s strategy was a success, helping to build brand awareness and buzz.

HBO’s Themed Escape Rooms

Playing to its strengths, HBO brought some of its most successful series to life during the South by Southwest festival to allow attendees to explore the sets of their favourite shows. Credit: Instagram @unit9ltd

The Campaign

HBO is known for its ground-breaking programming. It’s only fitting that they host an exciting experience for their viewers. 

Teaming up with Escape the Room, a popular escape room brand, HBO created a super Escape the Room experience for attendees of the South by Southwest conference and festival in 2017. 

The brand built three escape rooms, each based off of the sets of their most popular series. The recreated sets of Veep, Silicon Valley, and Game of Thrones were used together to create one giant escape room.

The Outcome

As was expected, attendees loved the experience. This experiential strategy’s success had to do with the fact that it was immersive and promoted engagement. However, above all, the fact that HBO incorporated their most popular series was what really helped them to succeed. 

By bringing the worlds of their most popular shows to life, HBO created a memorable experience, bound to stick out in the minds of their audience for years to come.

JetBlue’s Ultimate Icebreaker

Airline JetBlue combined two important factors for their creative experiential marketing campaign, warm vacations and free stuff, with one catch – a giant block of ice. Credit: Instagram @jeanius17

The Campaign

As a way to promote their new direct flights from New York to Palm Springs, JetBlue devised an experiential marketing campaign that combined a consumer’s love of free things with their adoration of a warm vacation. 

To do so, the brand created a giant block of ice with summer accessories, including beachwear, golf clubs, and vouchers for flights to Palm Springs, frozen inside, and dubbed it the “Ice Block Challenge.”  

People passing by were allowed to use any item they had on them to try and recover items from the block of ice.

The Outcome

To ensure a successful experiential marketing strategy, JetBlue ran a social media campaign in conjunction with its experiential strategy. This initiative resulted in extensive online buzz. 

However, the true success of the strategy was the result of JetBlue’s clever use of giving away free merchandise that directly related to their offering. 

Consumers love free things, and by formatting the campaign as a game, JetBlue created a fun, memorable and positive experience for consumers.

Key Takeaways

Experiential marketing is all about connecting with consumers on an emotional level with the help of memorable face-to-face interactions. 

By associating their brand with positive experiences, companies can build brand awareness and develop loyalty among consumers. Some of the most successful experiential marketing campaigns involve creating immersive experiences, often based on consumer fantasies and current trends. 

Experiential marketing campaigns often go hand in hand and be used in tandem with other social media marketing strategies by encouraging patrons to post their experience and share it with others, further facilitating brand reach and awareness. 

The ability of experiential marketing campaigns to evoke trust, awareness and brand loyalty means that this marketing trend is here to stay.

Written By Editorial Team

Along with the blog’s editors, we’re a collective of writers aimed at providing valuable industry insights and educational resources for DIY’ers, entrepreneurs, professionals and hobbyists. We range from former scientists, research students to enthusiasts and freelancers. Have a question or suggestion? Reach us at [email protected].