EXPERIENTIAL BRANDING: How To Ignite Consumer Love

I was at the PPAI sponsored panel discussion on experiential branding recently. It was held during the 4-day Advertising Week in NYC. I would like to share a couple of nuggets I noted. Experiential branding or engagement marketing is basically the events around promoting the brand and it is not complete without promotional products. Executives from 5 companies told us about 5 different experiential campaigns they carried out: American Cancer Society, Panda Express Restaurant Chain, Kevita (live probiotic drink company), The Annex for Havas, and Axis Promotions.

Consumers best experience brands thru events. Panelists emphasized that promo products worked great to commemorate events the consumers attended. Brands spend so much money for events and campaigns but if consumers leave with nothing to keep it is wasted.

Then came story telling. Better yet “authentic story telling”! Being a part of everyday lives of consumers really is directly connected with the story you are engaging them with. Is the story you’re telling authentic? Do you believe in your values and the story you’re telling? The more it’s authentic, the more the impact you create.

If you do a good job story-telling, then promo products are not only given away but people also want to purchase these products. Using brand products is part of our identity as humans. If the brand is valuable of course. People want to buy these products and self-identify with the brand.

All of the campaigns told were interesting but particularly one attracted my attention: General Mills’ Kernza Cereal campaign by The Annex for Havas ad agency. Here is its story: Kernza (intermediate wheatgrass) is a perennial grain that is a wild relative of annual wheat. General Mills is selling this limited edition cereal as a fundraiser for their mission to advance climate-beneficial foods (Kernza is one of those foods). The launch of Honey Toasted Kernza Cereal is meant to spark a conversation about the role of agriculture as a solution to climate change. Important topic. So they started this conversation by holding an event on April 10th this year in San Francisco, CA. The event featured a number of promo items among which a black notebook stood out for me and that’s the second reason I was interested in this project!

Go notebooks!

By Sue Begum Bulut – Director, North America