Kicking It Old School

March 14, 2018

We’re a month or so removed from the Twin Cities serving as the epicenter of the marketing world during Super Bowl LII. We were waiting to be wowed and inspired by the invasion of high-priced, high-impact experiential activations.

By the time the circus left town, we’d seen plenty of things that were high-priced. High-impact? Not so much. Our filter for an experiential idea is its ability to be amplified to a broader audience than the people who actually interact with it in person. That should be the expectation these days, not the exception. And from what I saw, the majority of brands dropped the ball.

No place was an old-school marketing mentality more prominently on display than at the Super Bowl Experience at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The experience itself received a ton of buzz as one of the go-to events, but the sponsors didn’t really share in that attention. And the in-person activations failed to connect with the thousands of fans who passed through the gates.

There was a ton of passive signage and very few compelling takeaways for fans — unless they wanted to buy them. That’s kind of an insult when they were already paying $25 for admission.

There was an oil manufacturer sponsoring an attraction where fans could get timed running the three-cone drill. What did that have to do with their brand and what message did consumers take away from that interaction?

There was a car company with a huge footprint filled with their luxury vehicles that nobody was looking at. We were told they had a great photo opp in the back with their oversized company logo and a replica Lombardi trophy. A few paces away from their space was an exhibit where you could take a photo with the real Lombardi trophy. Guess which one was more popular.

Even worse, the sponsors were more of a detriment than an enhancement. You had to download an app and scan your phone each time you wanted to do anything. And that meant you had to give the sponsors your information. I’m sure the marketing teams boasted about all the qualified leads they generated. Except they weren’t qualified at all. They were fans looking for an autograph, not a mid-size sedan.

It’s nice think of a bunch of people sampling your product or walking away from an experience with a positive feeling about your brand. But it’s not enough, particularly as the cost to create or sponsor something cool continues to rise.

That’s why experiential is part of our amplification practice, working closely with media relations, social media, paid media, influencer and analytics teams to ensure we’re creating activations that are truly amplifiable and truly integrated. Doing experiential in isolation is simply an outdated playbook.