In the first half of the year, the availability of Covid-19 vaccines gives marketers, and the world, more confidence in the return to in-person experiences. Still, many events are pushed into the second half of the year as a precaution. One year into the pandemic, and the evolution of the industry and lessons learned spark all new conversations about virtual strategies (SXSW declares the “desktop” virtual experience dead, and adopts a “roving”), skills and jobs of the future; how companies will grow their workforces again and attract talent.
With many big industry tentpole shows still postponed, CES among them, mobile tours experience a heyday once again. Brands, like 3D printing innovation brand Stratasys, take their exhibits on the road directly to customers. The result: More qualified interactions, targeted stops and customized, content-rich experiences. It beats the wide net of the trade show—for now.
The epidemic of screen fatigue grows, and brands find new ways to bring in-person experiences safely to consumers. It’s the age of the reverse activation, and among the brands capitalizing on the trend are TBS, which treats Conan O’Brien fans to drone-drops of figurines and other surprises at their homes; e.l.f. cosmetics, which drops Instagrammable installations onto influencers’ front lawns for trial and sharing; and YouTube, which capitalizes on the “unboxing” trend by delivering kits containing personalized videos, printed pieces and swag (DIY pizza, books, socks) to its virtual NewFront viewers.
Clear’s “Day of Families” event connects more than 100 family members and for the in-person reunions they’d been waiting for. In partnership with United Airlines and Marriott Bonvoy, Clear, a secure identity platform, leverages its Health Pass service to deliver a COVID-safe reunion event hosted by Neil Patrick Harris at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium. The logistics involve a charted flight, welcome reception, and water cannon salute.
Events return to in-person with fewer attendees, but richer and more innovative engagements. Bombay Sapphire disrupts the art scene with its first-ever Sensory Auction that offers art lovers the opportunity to bid on an original piece of art by contemporary sculptor artist Dan Lam—not with dollars, but with their emotional sensory response to viewing the creation thanks to neuro-aesthetic technology.