June 22, 2018
Last weekend the world’s most famous online creators met in Anaheim for the eighth annual conference known as VidCon. While creators famous for everything from bottle flips to family vlogs went to see and be seen, some of the industry’s biggest brands were in attendance to get face time with these influential, well, influencers.
A small staff of Fast Horse ponies attended to increase awareness of Blasted Shreds, a new cereal for General Mills. While we were handing out more than 18,000 servings of cereal, we also took a stroll around the Expo hall to see how other brands were connecting with this elusive audience.
Here are three trends I noticed as we weaved through seemingly endless rows of branded experiences.
Trend 1: Ball Pits
Call it borrowed inspiration from the now infamous Museum of Ice Cream, three brands created ball pits to attract these digital enthusiasts. The most successful: Hubert’s Lemonade, whose bright yellow ball pit surrounded with greenery and lawn chairs fit perfectly with their brand aesthetic. The least successful: a small ball pit that felt like a gimmicky afterthought to promote a movie and didn’t make sense with the broader activation.
Trend 2: Multi-Room Photo Backgrounds
If you don’t like this room, what about that one? MTV, Facebook and Mars each created a multi-room experience that offered a different visual experience to suit different tastes. MTV’s bougie walk-through house was packed with wacky prints and pithy quotes, while Facebook offered a different room for each reaction emoji. Mars was the most over-the-top, creating a mini-town that gave each candy brand its own storefront.
Trend 3: Body Art
This was a Gen-Z focused event, after all. Gushers, Alita: Battle Angel and Mars brand Snickers all offered a variation of a temporary tattoo. While Alita and Mars set up shops that resembled temporary tattoo shops (almost always with lines that wrapped around the activation), Gushers offered a quick tie-dye hand station that allowed more attendees to create their own design.
While all brands were clamoring for attention, it’s clear the winning activations not only delivered a great in-person experience, but gave attendees access to exclusive content that they could only get at VidCon. Because what’s the point of going if you can’t humble-brag about it online?