Mastercard Creates Experiential Record Store For Grammy Tie-In Campaign

What Happened
To promote its digital wallet service Masterpass, Mastercard has created a record store in Los Angeles that offer interactive music experience for music fans. As part of its #ThankTheFans campaign for the upcoming Grammy Awards, the credit card company transformed Gibson Brands Sunset into an experiential record store where Masterpass users will have exclusive access to shop for rare and unique vinyl for just $10. They will also get to unlock special offers for $1 during the live broadcast whenever a Grammy winner expresses gratitude to the fans in their speech.

What Brands Need To Do
This campaign is a cool example of how brands may combine experiential marketing with real-time event marketing to create a truly unique customer experience. This year, we have seen some retailers embracing experiential marketing by partnering with fashion brands to open pop-up shops in their stores, providing shoppers with a more varied in-store experience. As mobile technologies continue to blur the line between physical and digital marketing, brands will have to figure out how to leverage their digital assets to reach customers in the real world with exciting experience activated via mobile.


Source: BusinessWire

Folgers Coffee To Sponsor A Life-Size Gingerbread House In NYC

What Happened
Folgers Coffee has signed on as a brand sponsor for a life-size gingerbread house created by Taste of Home, a food and entertainment publisher as part of its holiday campaign this year. Previously, the publisher has created digital gingerbread house that readers can navigate on their phones, but this year it is created a life-size gingerbread house installation in New York City starting Tuesday.

The installation comes with some virtual and interactive elements designed to surprise and delight the visitors, who will be greeted by a virtual marshmallow and get to decorate an interactive Christmas tree via a touchscreen. Visitors can also submit their holiday photos to appear on an “America’s Holiday Mantel” display using the hashtag #holidayheritage. Folgers will use those user-generated photos in its ads across Taste of Home’s digital channels.

What Brands Should Do
This is the latest example of brands leveraging sponsorships to connect with event-goers. In September, Taco Bell teamed up with Sony and set up a pop-up VR gaming arcade to attract and engage with consumers. This type of experiential marketing has been gaining traction lately due to the increasingly fractured consumer attention and growing level of ad avoidance. Therefore, more brands should consider striking mutually beneficial partnerships to create memorable experiences for customers.


Source: Marketing Dive

Equinox And West Elm To Open Branded Hotels As Experiential Marketing

What Happened
The newest emerging trend in experiential marketing is a seemingly audacious one – opening branded hotels to let consumers sample products and services during their stay. Luxury gym chain Equinox is set to open a fitness-focused hotel in New York City in 2018, with plans to open more if the first hotel proves successful.

Home furnishing retailer West Elm is also opening a hotel of its own to immerse guests in a room filled with their products. The company is partnering with hospitality management and development company DDK to open West Elm Hotels in a number of U.S. cities in late 2018.

What Brands Need To Do
Obviously, not every brand is equipped or suited to open their own hotels. Equinox’s venture into the hospitality business may look surprising, but considering it is a subsidiary of The Related Companies, one of the largest real estate companies in the U.S., the decision is not that out-of-left-field. And given West Elm’s positioning of its home furnishing products, it also makes sense for the Williams-Sonoma Inc.-owned brand to experiment with a branded hotel to provide customers with an immersive product sampling experience. Nonetheless, these two examples certainly push the envelope on what marketers typically consider as experiential marketing, inspiring brands to look beyond the standard branded experiences they offer and explore new ways to reach prospective customers.


Update: Luxury fashion brand Shinola is also set to open a branded hotel in downtown Detroit in 2018.

Source: GeoMarketing & BusinessWire


Taco Bell And Sony Set Up NYC Pop-Up To Showcase PlayStation VR Experiences

What Happened
Taco Bell is teaming up with Sony to combine the power of tacos and virtual reality in a joint marketing campaign. The two companies set up a pop-up arcade in New York City this week to promote the upcoming PlayStation VR headset along with its own products. Visitors are invited to try out two fun VR experiences, escaping a shark tank or riding on a luge, make custom taco GIFs at a DIY station, and sample various Taco Bell products for free.

There’s also a taco truck outside the pop-up serving visitors cheddar habanero quesaritos, a limited-time product from Taco Bell. Starting Thursday, Taco Bell diners that purchase a $5 Big Box meal will receive a code to enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win one of over 3,300 Sony PlayStation VR headsets, which will go on sale on Oct. 13.

What Brands Need To Do
Taco Bell has a history of partnering with Sony for this type of joint marketing effort. Sony even created a limited-edition gold version of the PS4 that was only available through Taco Bell. This new campaign enlists the immersive power of VR to deliver a fun, engaging experience for consumers while also promoting their products. As VR technology continues to mature, they are becoming a popular choice for experiential marketing. Brands should consider striking mutually beneficial partnerships to create memorable experiences for customers.

The Lab currently has four VR headsets — an Oculus Rift, an HTC Vive, and two Samsung Gear VRs — ready for demos. Virtual reality is something that has to be experienced to be understood, so come by the Lab and ask for a VR demo to get a hands-on experience and figure out how your brand can use it to excite and engage with consumers.


Source: AdWeek

Header image courtesy of Taco Bell’s Promotional Video

Sony Taps Lyft To Promote Ghostbuster With Themed Rides

What Happened
Lyft will be giving out Ghostbuster-themed rides as part of a Sony Pictures’ promotion for the upcoming reboot. For a limited time in the first two days of July, lucky Lyft users in five U.S. cities will be able to request a Ghostbuster-themed ride, complete with the Cadillacs from the original 1984 movie, drivers that are dressed up as characters from the movie, and Hostess Twinkies and Hi-C Ecto Cooler – two products featured in the original movie. Riders can also enter a sweepstakes for a chance to attend the L.A. premiere of the new movie.

Why Brands Should Care
While this campaign seems to be directly inspired by Warner Bros. using themed Uber rides to promote Max Max: Fury Road last summer, it stands out with the integration of the two third-party brands featured in the original movie. As the lure of experiential marketing starts to catch on, we expect to see more brands, especially those in entertainment and auto, work with ride-hailing apps or other on-demand services to attract interested consumers with unique branded experiences. Also, brands should look out for opportunities to integrate relevant products into their campaign to enrich the experience as Sony did with Twinkies and Hi-C.


Source: AdWeek

Header image courtesy of Lyft’s YouTube

How Brands Like Bandier Are Modernizing The Brick-And-Mortar Retail Experience

What Happened
With physical retail struggling to keep up with the growth of ecommerce, a number of brands have been experimenting with new ways to draw customers to their stores. In New York City, for example, retailers such as Molasses Books and menswear store Community 54 enhanced their in-store experiences with beers and video games, respectively, to engage customers with some added fun and diversify their revenue streams.

Now, Bandier, an upscale activewear boutique, is also taking an experience-based approach for its new flagship store on Fifth Avenue. Besides the regular sales floor, the store also features a lounge space for customers to hang out or attend events the brand occasionally hosts there, as well as a fitness studio upstairs where customers can take yoga, barre, and dance classes for a fee.

What Retailers Need To Do
For all the advantages ecommerce has over brick-and-mortar retailers, physical stores can still provide customers with unique experiences that are irreplicable online. By adding the lounge area and the fitness studio to its retail space, Bandier is effectively turning its store into a destination for like-minded fitness lovers, which is exactly the target audience that the activewear brand is going after. For other retailers, these examples of experiential retail should serve as inspiration to figure out how to craft an engaging in-store experience that attracts shoppers.

The Lab has extensive experience working with retail and CPG clients to create and implement digitally-enhanced experiences for their stores. Our recent work with NYX Cosmetics incorporated the brand’s social assets into its in-store experience and offered an innovative take on in-store sampling with a digital beauty bar powered by tablet apps. If you’d like to learn more about how to modernize your in-store experiences, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]) to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Source: Fast Company

Mr. Robot Sponsors A Disruption-Themed Store To Promote New Season

What Happened
USA Network’s hacker drama Mr. Robot was a surprise hit last summer, and now the cable channel is taking a surprising approach to promote its upcoming second season. Working with concept store Story, the network took over an entire floor of the Manhattan shop and sponsored a disruption-themed store that is thoughtfully curated to reflect the tone and story of the show. The themed store features fun, interactive installments, including a vending machine that shoppers can activate by tweeting and a hackable ATM doling out real cash to the tech-savvy shoppers. It also features curated products from startup fashion brands such as JackThreads and The Arrivals, tech gadgets selected by Circuit Breaker, as well as the show’s merchandise.

Why Brands Should Care
In the age of Peak TV and Ad Avoidance, it is increasingly difficult for a new show (or brand) to cut through the noise and find an audience. This concept store, however, shines as a cool example of experiential marketing. In a way, this concept store is what native advertising in a retail context looks like – a real shop with buyable goods that also immerses its customers in a brand narrative and gets its message across. While this type of experiential campaign may be costly to implement and limited in its physical reach, the positive publicity, the word of mouth, and the organic social impressions it generates will be crucial for ensuring the campaign reaches its audience and fully engage them.

For more information on how brands can deal with the rise of Ad Avoidance among consumers, please check out the corresponding segment in our 2016 Outlook.

Source: AdAge

On Trend: Digitally Enhanced Experiences Are Taking Over Live Events

Attending a live event, such as a game or concert, is a unique experience, but increasing costs and crowd-induced inconvenience have driven more consumers to watch from the comfort of their living rooms.  In order to lure fans—especially younger generations—back to venues, event organizers and venue owners alike are pushing for live experiences enhanced by mobile and location-based technology.

When designing a digital experience to complement a live event, the first step is to identify whether the event is more location- or time-dependent. Although both types rely on widespread smartphone usage, a strong WiFi connection, and proximity technology like beacons, the user experiences they offer can differ significantly:

  • Location-dependent apps work great for events that happen frequently in a specific venue , even if the audience changes each time. This is best shown in the VenueNext app for Levi’s Stadium, home to the SF Giants. The app boasts features that cover everything from digital tickets and parking passes to instant replays on smartphones and beacon-enabled seat locating. The app also offers convenient services such as mobile food ordering, in-stadium navigation, and real-time updated queue length, all of which encourage spending on concessions and merchandise, thereby boosting revenues for the venues.
  • Event-based apps are better during events in which the audience stays the same throughout its limited yet intensive time frame, as in the case of conferences or music festivals. Therefore, organizers typically design digital experiences that are heavy on notifications, event streaming, and social interaction. The SXSW GO app, for example, provides the users with personalized schedule building, event audio streaming enabled by SoundCloud, and a geo-fenced SXSocial network connecting thousands of its attendees.

Despite the differentiation, digitally enhanced tools are slowly but surely changing the way people experience live events, which opens up new opportunities for event organizers and brand sponsors to connect with the audience.

We Tried The Taylor Swift Experience (And We Liked It)

Despite her very public break up with Spotify last week, it looks like Taylor Swift is not exactly done with new digital media yet. Accompanying her new single “Blank Space”, America’s No.1 ex-girlfriend has teamed up with RadicalMedia and American Express and released a free app that promises fans the ultimate “Taylor Swift Experience”. In an effort to connect with today’s Gen Z audience, we downloaded it, tried it, and surprise—we totally enjoyed it.

Tay 1

A neat gamification of the single’s music video, the main “experience” of the app is a 360-degree interactive adventure through the lavish Oheka Castle, where the video was shot. You can either take a fly-on-the-wall approach to follow Taylor around and watch her overdramatically break up with her beau, or you can leave the drama behind and explore the seven different rooms featured in the video at will by moving your device around. The experience is entirely scored with the new single and therefore limited to the song’s length each time.

Tay Cat

To encourage repeat gameplay, a total of 41 Easter egg-style “collectables”—namely, close-up pictures of the props featured in the video—are scattered throughout the various space and up for grabs. (During first play, we stumbled upon a cute photo of Taylor Swift’s cat Olivia Benson in the background.) Unsurprisingly, the app also features upcoming tour dates, a link to watch the music video on YouTube, links to purchase her new album, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and a bit of information about American Express as well.

As content creators become more familiar with new immersive technology, short-form media like music videos could become a great ground for testing how narratives work in new virtual environments.

All images featured are screenshots from the app.