As content continues to be king, brands invest heavily in at-event content strategies, building dedicated studios within event footprints and exhibit spaces, pushing out content on-demand, publishing broadcast schedules, recruiting speakers and powering the programs with on-site video production teams. Phew. The Experience by Dell Technologies at SXSW leads the way, mapping back panels, executive-on-ones and even musical performances on the stage back to Dell products, tools and innovations.
Brands experiment with exclusive overnight experiences that add a level of access and intimacy that few fans can forget—transforming them into superfans. Airbnb leads in this space with a program that enables it to partner with brands and agencies to promote sleepovers—like with Taco Bell Canada, which celebrates the launch of the Steak Doubledilla with a sleepover event for a group of superfans chosen from video auditions explaining why they wanted to be part of the experience.
The #MeToo era creates an opportunity for brands to humanize their campaigns and demonstrate to cause-centric consumers that they’re about action, not talk. In response to the controversy surrounding CES’s all-male key-note lineup, Twitter hosts and live-streams an alternative keynote event, #HereWeAre, spotlighting female leaders in tech.
State Farm transforms a cause marketing campaign into a movement, by acting on research that reveals 70 percent of millennials and Gen Xers love to volunteer, but only 25 percent actually do it. The brand closes the “intention gap” with the award-winning Neighborhood of Good program, which is supported by locally relevant, easy-to-access volunteer opportunities across events, digital engagements and meaningful face-to-face experiences.
Entertainment brands continue to leverage experiential to beat the competition in the battle for eyeballs with the rise of streaming platforms and endless content for consumers. HBO changes the game completely, with SXSWestworld, a highly interactive experience for fans of the “Westworld” series. Driven by storytelling and personalized narratives—led by the actors who reportedly never once broke character—no two experiences were alike for the 4,500 attendees.