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Forget basic pop-up shops, the latest experiential marketing focus is on creating new brand worlds.


Companies are delivering show-stopping, immersive moments that aim to wrap people up in their brand ethos. Most of this activity doesn’t even need to be supported by big-budget TV commercials. Because it’s all about taking the physical and mashing it up with the virtual / digital world in a way that changes perceptions and keeps them coming back for more.

Customers are already hooked on the concept of brand experiences. They expect you to tap into things that they care about and want to walk away inspired. They want high-quality talks, rewards, workshops, and enchanting moments hosted by people and brands that resonate with their own passions and preferences. On top of that, your customers need to feel surprised and delighted too.

To do all that you need to dip into aspects of your experiential marketing toolkit that are tried and tested ─ like impeccable event strategies and well-curated rewards. But you’ll also want to explore emerging technology like AI, AR, and VR, all of which is fresh and evolving. Whether techie tools like virtual reality are a passing novelty, or add real value, rests on how you use them in your own unique strategy.

There’s still much to learn as this tech aspect of the marketing mix evolves, but some things are already clear. To harness the power of the modern brand activation, your experiences need to be responsive, impeccably curated, and consistent with your brand identity.

To help you get the jump on your competition, we’ve compiled a list of the most innovative brand activations from the past couple of years:

On-target responsive

Here are two examples of “smart” spaces where user interfaces and immersive experiences played perfectly to the needs and passions of the target audience. Educational, challenging, fun and perfectly in synch with brand identity.

Coca-Cola 2018 World Cup AR experience

For the start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Coca-Cola created an immersive soccer-themed, augmented reality experience outside a train station in Zurich. People could show off their soccer skills on a big screen, take a photo with Swiss football star, Xherdan Shaqiri, and enter a competition to win the official world cup match belt. It was a grand and engaging way to create World Cup memories, not to mention, tie into an important, global sporting event.

Doc McStuffin’s check-up clinic comes to life

Doc McStuffins, an animated children’s TV series running on the Disney Channel, features a little girl who cares for sick dolls and toys in her playhouse clinic. In 2014, Disney staged Doc McStuffin clinics in Tesco, Smyths and Toys R Us stores in the UK, where kids got to dress up as doctors (complete with Doc McStuffin’s magic stethoscope) and diagnose what was wrong with patient Big Ted. (A teddy bear, of course.) The experience was fully immersive, hands on and designed to ease some of the anxiety many children feel when visiting a real doctor.

Impeccably curated

What does a compelling brand activation experience look like? Here are a few lessons in cutting straight to the heart of personal passions with celebrity interactions, exclusive sporting community events and collaborative creative experiences.

Adidas and Derrick Rose’s Jump Stores

Adidas’ 2013 ‘D Rose Jump Store’ was a pop-up store in London that set the bar for the rest of the pack. The brand brought in Chicago Bulls point guard and basketball superstar Derrick Rose to challenge fans. Customers could win a pair of free trainers by taking them off a shelf that was 10 feet in the air. It was very relevant to the sport of basketball and a fun experience with a sports hero.

LED cage at Brazilian nightclub, The Year

Taking personalised experiences to a whole other level, club-goers at The Year nightclub can change the lighting by the way they dance and interact. Sensors on an LED cage suspended over the dance floor read the temperature and movement of the crowd, which is then translated into different lighting effects. Every night is a collectively personalised experience.

House of Vans comes to South Africa

In August, 2019, the House of Vans event space came to Johannesburg. These spaces are already happening in Brooklyn, New York, Chicago, and London. So, the local skateboarding community was excited to share in the global passion for music, film, and sports.

Vans partnered with local heroes, Baseline and Skate Society Soweto, alongside UK-based company, Yardsale, to help curate a unique indoor skatepark. There were open skate sessions, along with Vans’ signature girls skate clinics and board building. Not to mention, a wide range of art programming including installations and workshops by some of South Africa’s finest.

Faithfully consistent

What does your brand stand for? Whatever it is, stay true to your character, deliver on your brand promises and demonstrate your brand commitment through consistent actions. These brands make the point that actions speak louder than words.

Ikea Bath Boats drive for the environment

In February 2019 Ikea promoted the opening of a new ‘sustainable’ store in Greenwich, UK, by sailing 2 large boats down London rivers. Nothing extraordinary about that, except the crafts were unmanned environmental protection boats designed as giant replicas of the company’s best-selling bath toy, SMAKRYP and equipped with rubbish clearing equipment. The Good Ship IKEA, as the boats were christened, cruised waterways clearing plastic and rubbish, that was upcycled to create a sculpture displayed in the Greenwich store.

Desperados turns epic stories into epic parties

The beer brand, Desperados, offers experiences as bold and edgy as one would expect from a tequila flavoured beer. An extension of their ‘Epic Parties Imagined by You’ series, ‘Epic Stories by You’ invites fans and followers to propose party concepts, with the best brought to life in grand style. The first (April 2019) was held in Poland, the brainchild of Karolina Gilon, who felt that people’s dependency on their phones was interfering with their interest in socialising at parties. On arrival, 2 000 guests gave up their phones in exchange for a beer. The phones were mounted on a LED wall to create a towering video light display and were linked to play animations in time with the dance music, giving people a lot to talk about.

Smashing through workplace barriers with ADP

Global Human Resource management software company ADP is sensitive to the challenges of cultural barriers in the workplace. They partnered with Wired Magazine at the 2019 South by Southwest (SXSW) festival to highlight the issue and give people a chance to vent frustration and literally break through work barriers. The interactive exhibition, Breaking Barriers, let guests don branded safety gear, choose a weapon and enter the Empire Control Room to batter and smash objects representing workplace barriers.

Creating memorable experiences

Good brand experiences ensure your audience remembers you when they’re out spending their hard-earned cash. And further, that they feel good about purchasing your product because you’ve reached them on an emotional level.

At GET Rewards, we partner with you to curate rewards that not only add value to activations but allow your audience to take your brand home with them. Whether it’s online, in store or at an event, our big brand prizes, corporate gifts and rewards make an impact.  Let’s talk about how we can help you.


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