In the 19th and 20th centuries, society moved from a commodity-based economy to one focused on products and services. This move included the shift from agrarian to industrial resources and tangible to intangible offerings. But, the 21st century has brought along a new type of economy based on memorable offerings: The Experience Economy.
These offerings are sensations and personal attributes that can be revealed over time, front and center, on a stage. Whether that stage is social media or a rock festival, the experience economy has created a new way of living, celebrating, and of course, marketing.
Everyone has a smartphone in their pocket, creating and ingesting gallons of media, specifically photos and videos, on a minute by minute basis. This gives brands a perfect opportunity to act on the experience-based movement by documenting their brand activations through videos. Once captured, these activation videos can be delivered directly to handheld storytelling machines and increase the likelihood of engagement among your audience.
How Brands Use Video to Drive Online Engagement from Real World Activations
Brands, both large and small, have capitalized on the experience economy by marketing creative ideas around real world activations. For the release of their Rise of the Tomb Raider game, Xbox created a Survival Billboard complete with people competing to see who could outlast the others when exposed to a variety of adverse weather conditions.
The activation was a hyper-example of gameplay, but also gave the company a real world stunt that could be documented and shared online. It racked up millions of views and multiple awards in 2016, proving to be a great return on their investment from an marketing perspective.
The Ad Council, a nonprofit public service announcement organization, has used these kinds of activations as a central part of their public awareness campaign. From kiss cams at football games to an x-ray machine set up in a city square (seen in the video below), the organization uses the power of in-person interactions to take their message out into the world.
The activations affect a small group who are lucky enough to experience them in person, but the videos are the content that are able to make the most impact and spread the Ad Council’s message the farthest. The Love Has No Labels x-ray activation video (seen below) has an impressive 58 million views and even won an Emmy, a first for a PSA.
From tech companies to nonprofits, brand activations have become a huge part of marketing across many business sectors. In fact, the fast food industry has seen a lot of remarkable ROI on activations. Burger King has led the pack with a variety of in-store stunts over the past few years, including their net neutrality stunt, the McWhopper proposal, Google Home television ad, the ASL Whopper Sign, and many others.
Burger King’s marketing activations have won several Cannes Lions awards as well as the coveted Creative Marketer of the Year. Their activations, while quite creative, would not have been as successful without the help of video to expand the reach and story of each campaign.
Their activations, while quite creative, would not have been as successful without the help of video to expand the reach and story of each campaign.
Burger King used a variety of video formats, including 15-second commercials, explainer animations, and case study videos, to document and market their activations. Without video, few if any of these activations would be marketing successes for BK.
Connecting Physical Product Creation with Digital Documentation
Here at Myriad, we’ve worked on several projects where physical and digital components overlap. From murals, to tech activations, to virtual reality, we see the need to combine real world activations with video documentation.
Murals, a trending topic in the art world, have become a large part of how brands and communities are expressing themselves within cities across the country. We’ve worked with Google Fiber, Vans x truth, and Raleigh Murals Project to document murals as part of marketing efforts for each brand.
In the case of Vans x truth, the mural also coincided with a custom Vans shoe designed by Brooklyn artist Kevin Lyons. Our video documented the overlapping creation of the mural and shoe by Lyons and was shown in over 1,000 Journey’s stores across the country to sell the sneaker.
The project accrued more than 100,000 likes and shares in less than a week. Racking up over 50,000 views on Youtube, 520,000 on Instagram and 1 Million loops on Vine, the campaign was selected as an Editor’s Pick in Creativity Magazine, and also featured in Shoot Magazine, HYPEBEAST, Skateboarding Magazine and of course, on truth’s website and the official Vans website.
We worked with Red Hat and Raleigh-based ad agency Baldwin& to document the tech brand’s People Powered Billboard. Red Hat unveiled the street activation during the All Things Open software conference in Raleigh and was meant to bring awareness to the concept of collaboration, a core component of the company.
The video was featured as an Editor’s Pick on Creativity Online and picked up by several social media influencers, including Brilliant Ads (a very popular twitter account with over 2.1 million followers)
Two other projects include a stunt-based activation for Toyota and a virtual reality booth for Dix Park. In each case, we worked with the client to take their idea of how to get more eyes on their brand by creating a real-world project that could be documented and shared online.
For Toyota, we were tasked with coming up with an idea to promote the Hybrid Prius as an energy-efficient car model. So, we decided what better way to explain how far a Prius could go on a tank of gas than to drive it until it ran out of gas. We used I-440, Raleigh’s beltline, as our racetrack and spent an entire day driving in circles until it ran out of gas. After 500 miles on 11 gallons of gas and a total of 18 laps around the beltline, we called it a day.
We followed the journey with cameras embedded throughout the car as well as a Director and Director of Photographer following along in a separate car. From this, we created a case study video that was shared by all of the Toyota dealerships in the Southeast, which resulted in over 400,000 views online. Without this video, the project would simply be 18 laps around a beltline with nothing to show from it except a wasted tank of gas.
For Dorothea Dix Park, we worked in the opposite direction, creating two virtual reality videos for their team to take along to events. At SPARKcon, one of Raleigh’s largest outdoor street festivals, we helped Dix Park set up a booth for the VR videos, creating a space for visitors to experience the park (and pet a unicorn!) through video.
Over 2,000 Raleigh residents came through the booth that weekend, petting a unicorn and experiencing a park only a few miles away through virtual reality video.
Video as Documentation and Entertainment for Activations
This move toward activations represents The Experience Economy at work. Experiences are the authenticity that younger generations crave. Couple that with the digital media they’re born into and you’ve got content that is more shareable and has the potential and possibility to go viral. Virality is a priority for most brands when developing project creative.
Documentation is key to creating experiences that brands can use to get their teams involved, but also have content to share on their brand channels. In the digital age, video is the best option for both documentation and entertainment.
Without video, few people would have seen these campaigns and ultimately share in the brand’s goal of experiencing their mission. As brands consider activation as part of their marketing plan, allocating part of the budget to video is key in ensuring that your audience is able to become part of your experiential story. Sharing these activations is important to your brand and video is the best storytelling tool in digital-based marketing world.