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Big brands now looking to experiential to create that special connection

As you’d expect in any 1st Quarter, it’s ‘trends and forecasting’ season. From the macro economic perspective, to the more sectoral marketing view, ‘Cautious Optimism, is the theme of the day: In 2014 the advertising market grew by 4% and experts predict that this growth will continue in 2015 – though this does not bring us back to pre-2009 territory. And according to the most recent ESRI data, we are seeing a continuing improvement in consumer sentiment and perhaps more importantly, the Index of Consumer Expectations is shifting in the right direction, from 83.8 in December to 93.2 in January.

So now that we have increased optimism from marketers, and real signs of improved sentiment among consumers, how are brands behaving and where are they targeting their spend?

Digital aside, one clear area that is benefiting from additional resource is experiential. High profile local and global brands are diverting an increasing share of their annual marketing spend into creating meaningful experiences – with good amplification potential through digital channels – to bring consumers closer to their brands. While few local brands can match the bravery or the budgets of the Red Bull Stratos Jump, there’s been a quantum leap in this type of activity. And if you’ been out and about in Dublin in recent weeks, you can’t have missed the armies of brand ambassadors: Dine in Dublin took to the Luas Green Line in February to remind Dublin commuters about the merits of dining out in Dublin; Aldi and Dublin City Council partnered impressively to woo Dubliners on Valentine’s Day at three iconic Dublin bridges. Coca Cola Life took over Pearse Street station to introduce the new ‘healthier’ Coke offering to consumers; and Kellogg’s was out and about offering consumers an opportunity to take their own #spoonselfie to promote their personalised spoon promotion.

It’s virtually impossible these days to attend a sporting event, festival or shopping centre without bumping into a brand eager to engage. The end game is to make real, emotional connections with consumers, and convert awareness into advocacy that can be shared, pinned and posted. And in an environment where consumers are increasingly dual screening, the benefit of creating experiences and content at a lower cost than through traditional advertising approaches, is clearly an attractive one.

Head shots

Grainne O’Brien
MCsquared at Murray.

This article was published in Marketing Magazine, Volume 26. No 3

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