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Is your brand maximising its social media presence

In the ever-changing world of online marketing, it is no longer a secret that maximising your brand’s potential through social media is a necessity, says Ian Sullivan, managing director of Paperhat Consorcio.

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The interactive, instantaneous, worldwide messaging service has fast become the preferred choice of communication and consistent statistics indicate that it will continue to do so.

So is your brand maximising this potential opportunity or is it continuing to regard this prolific marketing channel as a ‘nice to have’? Regardless of whether your brand is B2B or B2C, public or private sector, profit or not-for-profit, social media marketing is a communication delivery channel that now demands every brand’s respect.

I can easily lose count the amount of times I’ve heard: “Social media? The graduate manages all that stuff.” What other marketing channel do you leave to ‘the graduate’? Probably none, purely because marketing your brand is a key function within your organisation.

Whose job is social media?

So why do so many brands still leave social media marketing to the junior team members? There is no real definitive answer, suffice to say that it is probably a combination of cost, ignorance and convenience.

Marketing your brand on social media is no longer a luxury. It has now become essential to communicate with your potential online audience. Gone are the days when it was only used by tech-savvy teenagers. Facebook has been around for 10 years this year.

That means those tech-savvy teenagers are now almost 30 years old. That’s a key purchasing demographic that feel natural communicating, operating and buying via social media. Couple this with the easier to access social media graphic user interfaces and you also see an older generation joining and interacting. Just ask yourself, how many people do you know that have never used social media?

Social media is ‘opt in’ marketing

The other key point to note with social media marketing is that it is an ‘opt in’ marketing channel. The people you organically communicate with have chosen to follow and hear from your brand. These reasons are why it is so important to ensure the social media marketing content has the full respect and budget to deliver your brand’s messaging as you would with all your other marketing channels.

However, the content, curation and messaging is just one part of the social media marketing strategy. Tone of voice, interaction, customer profiling, data analysis, timing, contingency planning, customer service and managing negative sentiment are some of the other elements that have to be considered every time your brand interacts online.

So where do you start? Strangely, not posting anything on your brand’s social medi. Take a step back as you would naturally with any other marketing channel. The key question is ‘what is my brand’s overarching marketing strategy?’ Understand clearly what message your brand is underpinning. Only then can you utilise the marketing tools to deliver the messaging.

The next step is to select the correct social media platforms that suit your brands audience. Due to the verity to choose from you may well end up selecting more than one platform. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn are the big four, followed by Google+, Instagram and Pinterest. Each have their own unique strengths, weaknesses and online audience.

Decide on your content

So now you have the marketing strategy, the social media platforms and most importantly, the consideration for professional social media marketing. Now comes the hard bit – the content. What are you going to publish? Beware, social media is extremely content hungry. If you post unique content once a day on two platforms you will need 10 items of content in a working week.

You cannot get away with posting the same content in the same format across two or more different social media platforms. The audiences your brand is communicating with are on their preferred social media platform because that is the way they like to communicate online. Your brand must respect that and communicate its content format accordingly.

Now go and build your audience. But why would you actually follow a brand on social media? Simply, because you are interested in what they have to say. Not just today, but at all times. Therefore to attract the right audience, your brand needs to communicate its marketing messages consistently.

It needs to consistently engage with like-minded individuals online who have a need or a requirement that your brand can fulfil. This is why switching your brand’s social media communication on and off will never work. It needs to be consistent. Only this way can your brand maximise its social media presence.

Marketing your brand on social media is no longer a luxury, says Ian Sullivan

Ian Sullivan is managing director of Paperhat Consorcio.

Blog: Making the most of festival experiences

George Chapman, head of operations and production at Wasserman Experience, talks to Event about how brands can make the most of festival experiences. 

How can brands get their festival strategy right?

For brands and their marketers, this month signals the start of the UK festival season. At the weekend we had Wireless, and before that Glastonbury, and with events such as T in The Park, Latitude and Secret Garden Party imminent, it’s going to be a busy month for brands hoping to engage and create a lasting relationship with festival-goers.

With an abundance of festivals now on offer to the UK public – eight million people attended 700 festivals last year – there is a huge opportunity for brands to engage with consumers. But for brands to truly make the most of the opportunity, they need to have a clear and focused strategy when considering festivals.

Is a festival right for you?

First of all, you need to consider if the festival really is the best match for your brand. Festivals have extremely varied demographics and nuances, so this is key. Make sure you do the research.

One of the best strategies lies in engaging with the festival promoters. They have the data from previous years to evaluate whether their proposition is the right fit for your brand. Some brands in certain sectors will find it much more difficult than others; however creative the execution. For instance, it’s difficult to envisage how a luxury car or high-end watch brand would be the best fit at a largely teenage attended music festival such as Leeds or Reading.

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Plan and do it early

Once you’ve found the right festival fit for your brand. It’s important you plan, and you do it early. By approaching and connecting with festival organisers at an early stage, you can work with them to get the insights into crowd flows and behaviour, to ensure your brand and specific requirements are part of their planning, and more importantly that it can be integrated into the overall festival curation.

This year Jägermeister has got its strategy bang-on. The drinks brand has invested close to one million pounds in order to bring its “Jägerhaus” installation to life across seven UK festivals. It’s worked closely with each festival to get specific site spaces – that means its bespoke installation will get the full ROI its investment requires.

A lot of festivals have strict deadlines on access for brands, so if you’re coming late to the party – you won’t ever have this level of flexibility. Beware of festivals who are willing to allow almost any brand to activate as late as weeks or days before it is due to start, if the site fee is met. This should be a huge red flag to any brand that the care and consideration will be lacking and your activation will suffer as a result.

Ensure what you do engages with the crowd and adds value to the festival experience

 Above all else, what you need to ensure is that what you do engages and adds value to the festival experience. There are many different routes you can take to ensure you do this, but perhaps two of the most important are:

Go back to basics

Rather than overcomplicating your idea with how flash you can make your brand activation – consider the basic needs of the festival-goer: clean toilets, showers and a charged phone.

With Vodafone, we toured festivals between 2011-2013 with recharging trucks, this offered festival-goers something useful – free to use charging docks – while Vodafone were able to reaffirm its relationship and engage with new and existing Vodafone customers.

Outside of phone charging, Lynx activated its ‘Manwash’ campaign at Reading, V Festival and Global Gathering in 2007. Offering festival-goers a free shower (of sorts) from a number of attractive ladies. Tying in with its brand proposition, it delivered great PR, but also great bang for its buck.

Create a lasting memory

Alternatively, you can look to give consumers a unique or memorable experience, enhancing what the audience is already there to do. As part of the same Vodafone campaign we built bespoke viewing platforms which gave exclusive access to superb views of the main stage – which aligned with the brands overall strategy in rewarding customers.

HP did this too, through its connected music campaign. It had Labrinth and other artists perform exclusive acoustic sets at Wireless Festival in 2012. By creating a unique moment, HP was able to connect and engage with festival-goers despite the lack of product relativity.

The ultimate goal for any brand activating at a festival is to become synonymous with their chosen festivals over a number of years. So much so that festival-goers expect you to be there year after year. If you can achieve this then you will truly know that your festival strategy is a success.

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George Chapman is head of operations and production at Wasserman Experience.

Blog: A view from Australia

Rebecca Rynehart from TRO Australia discusses the impact the latest technology has on experiential marketers.

In a world where humans now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish, experiential marketers must be smarter than ever.

You wake up and the first thing you do is check your smartphone. Sound familiar? At least 80% of us should be nodding our heads in (perhaps reluctant) agreement.

The convergence of the digital and physical worlds is no longer new news, in fact it’s operation normal. What might be new news is that it’s changing the way our brains behave.

A recent study has attributed a more digital lifestyle to an overall decrease in sustained attention. So much so that we now have an attention span of eight seconds compared to the nine seconds of a goldfish. Clearly there’s a land grab for attention and if we want a piece of it we will need to think differently with our experiential campaigns.

This jostle to get noticed is pertinent for brands in Australia where smartphone penetration and adoption of wearables is higher than many markets. Over here, the best in class campaigns are blending creative technology with the things that matter to us most, resulting in a deeper, more intuitive and interconnected engagement.

Selfies, cling wrap and rugby

Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunications provider has been embracing this approach for years with their award-winning interactive windows. At Christmas, knowing the popularity of a selfie, they transformed one of their windows into an interactive photo booth.

Busy Melburnians were invited to snap themselves and then customise with festive augmented reality props before receiving the image on their phone. This combination of personalisation and instant gratification meant a record number of shoppers stopped to take part.

Glad Cling Wrap’s recent #gladeveryday campaign encouraged us to take a welcome pause for a brief moment and consider more deeply the things that we are grateful for in our lives. Thoughts of gratitude were shared via social channels and a ‘great wall of glad’ installed in shopping centres. All content is aggregated and visible on a conversation hub, offering a great insight into what Australians are glad about.

In general, brand experiences that index high on fun times are #winning over here. The Samsung Slideliner grabbed our attention by tapping into the nation’s obsession for rugby, offering up the best seat in the house and a money-can’t-buy-piece of the action.

The Slideliner is an impressive four-person ‘couch’ that sits beside the pitch, moving along the field of play to follow the game in real time.  Lucky Slideliners had access to an internet-enabled Samsung tablet and cameras were built into the structure to enable snapping and sharing during the game.

Ultimately, technology is now enabling more immersive experiences, transporting people in a completely unique and magical way. Expect to see increased use of VR platforms, such as Google Cardboard, which are the next generation of storytelling mediums and excitingly accessible to anyone with a smartphone.

Unplugged experiences

We are physical beings and it’s important to step away from the touchscreen from time to time. In fact after a day of multiscreen multitasking, what we often crave is a good nights sleep. Ikea recognised this and teamed up with Airbnb to provide a once in a lifetime sleeping experience with a campaign that gained huge coverage from minimal media spend.

Three Australian families stayed overnight at a Sydney Ikea after applying for a unique Airbnb listing. They slept in themed Ikea showrooms, ate traditional Swedish food and were woken by puppies, an orchestra and breakfast in bed.

A refreshing change to being woken by your smartphone.

Rebecca Rynehart is managing director of TRO Australia.

A curious mind at Cannes Lions

Be mindful of the subtle dynamics of human interactions to create successful brand experiences, says Jack Morton Worldwide’s Lewis Robbins, who was at Cannes Lions last week.

Some people just grab you. Last week at Cannes Lions I saw a talk by Brian Grazer, a Hollywood Producer who, every two weeks for the past 35 years, has sought out conversation with the world’s leading experts, which he’s collected in his book, ‘A Curious Mind’.

One of the things the talk reaffirmed was that brand experience can still learn a lot about building relationships by being mindful of the subtle dynamics of human interactions.

Brands that ask for too much, or have an obvious ulterior motive, are dismissed – just like people who share the same traits. But Garvis was strategic and thoughtful in every encounter he created. He would emphasise he wasn’t asking for anything, other than the meeting himself. He stressed that they could stay for as long or as little as they liked, never suggesting lunch because it might seem like too much of a commitment. He gave people gifts to create trust and engagement early on, and to show he cared – something he thought they’d like. And he researched the topic, so that he had a way into the conversation – making an effort his expert would appreciate.

He also has a very intuitive knack of finding the one thing that would make people open up – an ‘insight’, if you like – that created the richest and most rewarding exchange possible. How do you get Michael Jackson to shed his persona? Ask him to take off his gloves. (“He looked at me like no one had asked him anything before.”) 

Sitting opposite Princess Diana at a dinner, he wondered – ‘How do I make this moment matter?’ So he decided to flout the Royal rules of etiquette – and to use his stories of Hollywood to make her laugh and share a bowl of ice cream with him. (‘Her smile had such elasticity, you could feel her humanity.’) 

And as Eminem stood up to leave after 40 minutes of refusing to talk, a final challenge – “Why don’t you animate?” – provoked the rapper to open up.

It’s an inspiring project and something we could probably all seek out more ourselves. Garvis said that every time he met someone, he was surprised, failing to anticipate their point-of-view. It broke him out of himself – deepening his powers of empathy, and enabling him to apply new perspectives to the work he created in his own world. Amen to that.

Lewis Robbins is senior associate strategist at Jack Morton Worldwide.

Blog: The winning brand activations at Goodwood

What are the stand-out brand experiences at Goodwood Festival of Speed this year? Hayley Lawrence, director of events at agency Brand and Deliver, gives her verdict.

A day at the world famous Goodwood Festival of Speed did not disappoint. You can hear it before you can see it and the energy you feel on arrival is of epic proportions. Even a look around the supercar parking area before you get through the gates is an experience.

Goodwood is every car lover’s dream and every car manufacturer is fighting for attention. The scale of the temporary structures and hospitality suites is astounding, many of them as big as a permanent car showrooms.

I wanted to see what car brands were doing something different. How had they gone the extra mile to impress and engage with the festival goers?

I expected to see a lot of car simulator experiences – which there were – but a few brands stood out above the rest, these were the brands that had the largest queues and the biggest draw.

Mini

Mini created a car simulator activity using the mini itself. It allowed visitors to sit in the driving seat and race the fastest mini ever. A screen array in front of the windscreen allowed for a really immersive interaction whilst actually being able to experience the interior of the vehicle.

Ford

Ford had the largest queue of the day. Their stand incorporated a huge slide, which was almost vertical with multiple twists. Visitors were offered the chance to use the slide and ‘Test’ their speed on the performance power slide. I gave it a miss myself but it was certainly a crowd-pleaser and a great example of how to attract and engage the audience.

Honda

The brand that excelled for me was Honda, which created the 2015 Playset to showcase its new range of models. The entire stand was created to look like toy car boxes, housing the cars inside the units. Each toy box was designed differently and consumers could interact on a number of photo opportunities with prize draws that included a holiday to Lapland and a £3,000 personal shopping experience at Selfridges.

It no surprise that the stand was really well received. A great example of how to stand out from the crowd.

Hayley Lawrence is director of events at agency Brand and Deliver


Comment below to let us know what you think.

Blog: Alton Towers… please never on my watch

Black-sky thinking is vital for delivering brand experiences, says Mark Stringer, founder and chief executive of agency PrettyGreen.

Most of us over the years have been involved in putting on stunts and experiences featuring an element of danger or potential risk of injury – purely thanks to the activity itself.

I’ve been lucky enough to be part of the virtual agency/client team that put a man to the edge of space, back flipped an BMXrider over Tower Bridge and thrown people off death slides and what being involved in these extreme brand stunts and experiences has taught me is the importance of what I term “black-sky” planning. 

Black Sky planning is a horrible session (or series of sessions) where the full team run through every single “what if” scenario under the sun. A session where you sit with the production and health and safety and comms teams and jointly pull apart everything that could go wrong, how you escalate issues, how you think through every possibility – be it a minor or major issue.

  • What happens if someone’s sick in the line, how do we get rid of the smell?
  • What if it there’s a heatwave, can we distribute water?
  • What’s the nearest hospital, do we have the contact details?
  • How many fire extinguishers and where are they located?
  • Who’s in the ELT when there’s a code silver?

As an outsider, it would appear Alton Towers ELT kicked in quickly (although I’m sure there was a period of panic before the calm of the crises kicked in). And it’s about the team/brand and co. remaining in control whilst enabling the experts to do their job, and the comms teams ensuring the media are being managed and catered for.

They’ll be a lot of clients sat around probably dismissing the relevance of the Alton Towers shocking disaster. “What’s putting on a pop-up in a disused shop got to do with Alton Towers?” they’ll ask their agencies. Well, for me, that’s probably the biggest mistake a brand/client can make. 

In all my years of being involved in putting on some (frankly ridiculous at times) experiences, the biggest issues I’ve ever experienced haven’t been on seemingly “dangerous” events, but from the ones that on the outside just feel like warm fluffy experiences; a stabbing at a ticket give-away, a bag of heroin found at a tea party,  a dislocated shoulder in a ball pit, broken bones on a slide, guarddog attacking a journalist’s son, total police shut down due to crowd safety, World War II bombs uncovered on the day of opening. These are real examples might I add!

I’m not saying you can plan for every scenario or that a simple sampling product giveaway needs a CEO escalation session. But a small loose thread when pulled hard enough can destroy the fabric of the whole company and an experiential campaign without a joined up crises plan is putting both your client and your agency in an unnecessary precarious position.

My advice? Plan for the worst, learn from the disasters and never think it won’t happen on your watch.

Mark Stringer is founder and chief executive of agency PrettyGreen.

More: PrettyGreen launches partnerships and promotions division

Using festivals to build a brand

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David Atkinson, managing partner, Space

There has been a re-evaluation of the role of brands and festivals in recent years, says David Atkinson, managing partner of Space.

The middle of the year has always been a focus for face-to-face activity, more so with the growing status of festival culture. Around eight million people attend the UK’s 700 festivals spending £1.5 billion in the process. For many, the festival has become an alternative to a holiday.

In recent years there has also been a re-evaluation of the role of brands and festivals. Where once brands were a necessary evil to bring some additional income to let the promoter to pay for better acts, or providing functional elements such as alcohol, they can now be a more integral part of the experience.

As the festival market has mushroomed, the audience for festivals has changed radically. There is a more diverse demographic mix, tending towards the more mainstream, taking in older groups, families and more middle class festival goers. Consequently festival goers are also more affluent.

At a time when many traditional media options are showing declining potency, festivals have emerged as an opportunity for brands to get in the faces, and hands, of their audiences. However regarding these crowds as captive and passive consumers of marketing is to misunderstand the brand/festival dynamic.

Brand resistance

Yes, festival audiences are more prepared to accept that brands have a role, but the resistance to feeling that they are being targeted remains intense. Today’s festival goer may be something of a weekend rebel, slinking back to their electrically hooked up tent between acts, but the cynicism about overt marketing is as intense as it was with any Sixties flower child.

Rear view of a crowd of people watching their band perform beneath the strobe lights on stage

For brands to find a space at events, they have to prove their relevance and usefulness. Fortunately most festivals are almost uniquely flexible in allowing brands free rein when it comes to creative face-to-face marketing.

Brands need to chill

To really make festival activation work, like festival goers, brands have to chill out. Being a control freak is not the best way to get the most from a festival. Work closely with organisers right from the initial planning stages. They know their audience better than anyone, and are sitting on ticket data that can provide insight for brands.

Rather than brands seeing this as unnecessary interference, they should accept that collaboration creates a better experience and a win-win for all involved. Steamrollering an event with your brand is not the way to build acceptance. Working to create an event within an event that truly adds to the festival experience, will have a great and longer lasting effect.

Space worked closely with Parklife to curate its Desperados Factory warehouse space. Both parties sat down together to create something that fit well within the overall event, but provided the brand with a stand-out property. By using the organiser’s sway with acts, Desperados was also able to attract more compelling talent.

This more strategic approach is seeing brands moving from a position of passive badging of existing assets, to creating of their own experiences and stories, driven by an increasing need to demonstrate that they are culturally relevant and connected.

One-off deals have less currency that ongoing partnerships. Two- to three-year agreements allow brands to build on their learnings and make the following year bigger and better. Desperados took its festival experience forward with Detonate, a multi-sensorial event that mixed music, graffiti, dry ice, lasers and confetti cannons to produce an amazingly memorable event.

Savvy brands are realising that festival activity like this can provide a focus for ongoing communication throughout the year. Red Bull’s Music Academy is an example with its series of workshops and concerts around the world providing a brand experience that is longer lasting.

Festivals were social before social media, but with digital options now well used, brands can amplify their message and use social to stay in touch all year round. Offering up shareable content keeps people interested in the brand beyond a few heady days in summer.

David Atkinson is managing partner of agency Space

More: Top brand experience agencies: Space

Content: Keeping It Real

Content is the territorial dispute du jour, which every agency is claiming to do brilliantly, says Jonathan Terry, head of JWT Live.

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Jonathan Terry

Content is, of course, a useless word. It’s the ultimate non-descriptor. It’s become the C-word of advertising: ubiquitous and provocative.

Its uselessness within the advertising vernacular was confirmed, upon my discovery that the antonym of content is, in fact, style.

Style describes how something is made; its form, its material, its weft and its weave. Content tells us that something (generally another noun), has something in it. For example chicken has high protein content. Content tells you nothing about the “content” rather that it contains… something. A book has a table of contents. You can empty the contents of your suitcase.

As I pondered – spilling the contents of my cup in the process – I started to wonder what was inside this content we’re all competing to make.

Reports around the world are showing that people are craving real experiences more and more in the digital age. Real experiences are what people engage with and share online, they provide most of the content for social media.

Case and point: In the top ten most watched (and talked about) shows of 2014, seven out ten programmes were reality based. Great British Bake Off in first place, Uruguay vs England in second, Britain’s Got Talent in fourth, Germany vs Argentina, I’m a Celebrity, Strictly Come Dancing and Call the Midwife.

What makes most of these shows real is their temporal nature: watching the Superbowl on catch up isn’t the same. And, TV programmers have learned from this by creating rounds across contests: The Big Decision. Audiences are lured in to see the drama unfold. Who will make the cut and why? Event-based programming is on the rise.

Some of the other highest rated shows over the year include: 24 hours in A and E, Gogglebox, Top Gear, Masterchef. While not event-based, these shows present real people in real situations, real human drama and it is as enthralling as fiction.

Authenticity is becoming the new TV battleground, as broadcasters and digital publishers (Vice in particular) battle to tell real stories, in real ways that millennials want to hear.

Brands and agencies have also triumphed, some of the best advertising “content” ideas of recent years have a strong suit in real. Red Bull sent a man to jump from the edge of space. Dove enabled real women to question what real beauty meant, with Sketches. Volvo’s Live Test Series has become the paradigm for content strategists the world over.

Here at J Walter Thompson London, we created the Canon Come and See campaign, highlighting real stories around the world, waiting to be discovered. We created a life-changing campaign for Kenco called Coffee vs Gangs. The scheme gave young Hondurans a route out of the spiral into gang life by giving them the opportunity to become coffee farmers. For Shell we helped transform the lives of thousands of people through the renovation of a derelict space into a first-of-its-kind kinetic football floodlit pitch, with floodlights powered by footsteps.

All of these campaigns, and many more, created stories that lend themselves to longer form films; three minutes or more. Using reality within content, is one of the ways agencies and brands can create films that viewers will watch until the end.

The next time you start talking about a bunch of content, consider keeping it real.

Jonathan Terry is head of JWT Live.

Experiential & PR: Friend or Foe?

As the lines are increasingly blurred between experiential and PR, Purity’s Rob Quinn, asks if the two different disciplines are ‘friends’ that can work together or ‘foes’, viewing each other with suspicion and ultimately looking to move into each other’s territory?

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Purity MD Rob Quinn

There is no doubt that as experiential has grown it has increasingly linked with PR to enhance the profile of events and experiences. There has been a growing realisation by specialists in each discipline that the sum is greater than the parts and experiential is increasingly seen as the platform to create the content for PR to leverage. Big names from the coolest of sports brands through to high street financial services companies are using PR before or during their experiential campaigns to grab the media’s attention.

Brand experience and event agencies are joining forces with their PR counterparts to create some great work. Earlier this year Kaper PR and Big both played a role in delivering the celebrity wow factor as Mastercard holders came face to face with their heroes in a series of ‘Priceless Surprises’ with the likes of Kaiser Chiefs, Usher and Paloma Faith in the run up to Mastercard’s sponsorship of the 2015 Brit Awards.

On a smaller scale a campaign that made me grin was Lyle’s Golden Syrup dispensers that only delivered porridge and golden syrup to commuters who smiled at the dispenser. It used clever recognition technology and logistics through Slice and maximised media exposure via Mischief PR. It reminds me of the Carlsberg billboard in Brick Lane dispensing beer under the line Probably the Best Poster in the World – no doubt securing acres of media coverage whilst delighting consumers.

We also recently worked with Edelman PR to launch the Green & Black’s Taste & Colour Tour. Edelman managed the media and we worked with them on the creative concept and then delivered the production and logistics of the tour. Similarly we’ve worked with Touch PR on a number of PR stunts, from parking a life size tractor cake in London for Assured Food Standards to hosting a whisky tasting 40 meters in the air for Grants.

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What all these campaigns have in common is that they deliver unique and often unexpected experiences that live longer in the memory, interweaving concepts and touch points to create a powerful and immersive message. Creating this sort of social currency and social commentary is pure gold for brands and, of course, agencies.

In many ways experiential and PR make natural bedfellows. PR engages with the media whilst experiential engages directly with the consumer. Both are also extremely adept at harnessing the power of social media. Put them together and you have a very effective communication platform. Who can forget Gail Porter projected on the House of Commons, it’s gone down in agency folklore.

When a great PR idea is combined with an experiential campaign the creative concept can be extended hugely and taken directly to the consumer to engage and delight people on a one-to-one basis. PR can often light the touch paper for an experience that a brand experiential agency ultimately delivers, providing logistics that underpin the PR stunt and ensuring the message snowballs.

It should be a match made in heaven but the temptation to step into each other’s territory is a great. Increasingly agencies offer each other’s services within their own toolbox and there is a danger here of confusing the lines rather than blurring them. Each require strategic thought and conceptual ideation that should be mutually harnessed and not forced upon each other with a lack of foresight.

When I look back over the last couple of years, to my mind, the best work has come from a collaboration of PR and brand experience agencies – each doing what they do best – producing clever, creative work that generates column inches and unforgettable experiences.

So, let’s be friends, we can do great things together.

Rob Quinn is managing director of brand experience agency Purity.

More: Blog – Rob Quinn on the World Cup ‘Experience

Drones: shifting power from creative director to creative coder?

The demand for drones to be integrated into brand experiences is on the increase. Adam Doherty, managing director and executive producer at immersive experience studio Marshmallow Laser Feast, explains their true potential.

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Adam Doherty

Those in the know forecast 2015 would herald the arrival of drones on the event scene and the prediction has come to fruition. In the space of just a few months, we’ve been asked to create several quadrotor shows, from car launches to experiential campaigns for big brands.

This is great news for anyone interested in how new tech can lead to new levels of experiential creativity and engagement. But most people underestimate the creative and engagement power of drones, seeing them as mere ‘floating pixels’; whereas they are, in fact, a new mechanism for creating powerful live 360 experiences.

The show quadrotors available today are so much more than flying circuit boards with lights. Their performance can be choreographed with millimetre precision. This level of accuracy can create a near infinite display of synchronised maneuvers.

Most interestingly, we can use this precise positional data to build extraordinary volumetric light forms. With projects like the Cannes New Directors Showcase, the audience becomes physically absorbed; not only by the lights, but remarkably by their direct heat too as the light shines out and over the auditorium. It’s quite an extraordinarily tactile and immersive sensation for such a ‘robotic’ show.

If consumers’ hunger for 360 VR experiences is anything to go by, we can be confident they will respond equally favourably to the immersive potential of quadrotor shows. But, as with any such nascent tech, we all face many challenges in ensuring these performances are robust and tourable.

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Price hurdles

Perhaps the main hurdle, though, is price. That said, in the same way that screen technologies, projection, LED and media severs were restrictively expensive a few years ago, as drone technology evolves, so too does the cost. This creates a more palatable entry point. Such ‘democratisation’ means drones will soon no longer be limited to those with big budgets.

With techniques like projection mapping becoming creative old hat in a relatively short period of time, drones surely mark a new chapter in live events. As a unique addition to the creative director’s toolkit, they have the potential to bring completely new and original experiences to the live environment.

Technological shift

Despite providing creative directors with more ammunition, quadrotors – and the increasing technologizing of events in general – signal the start of a paradigm shift for the industry. If we’re going to rethink the live experience so that it can better use amazing new tech, we will also have to rethink the structure that underpins the industry.

Choreographers may be able to craft staggeringly beautiful shows of human movement. But do their skills translate to the 360 world of a quadrotor show? I would say not. And the same applies to all other transformative experiential tech where, for example, you can’t simply port traditional filmmaking techniques into virtual or augmented realities.

Of course, events will always benefit from the human touch. But with tech set to dominate top-level events in the coming years, are we now witnessing the shift of power from the creative director to creative coders of the future? When the industry becomes more skilled at creating complex drone performances that can inspire audiences the world over, the transition from creative director to creative coder can’t be far off.

More: Event Tech 2015: Drones, Beacons and VR headsets

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