Learning by experience…


    As with so many aspects of marketing, advertising and promotions, there has been a reliance on tried and trusted methods to get the message through.

    The problem is that many of them were tried and tested more than 50 years ago and may no longer be relevant to an audience who has evolved at a faster pace and in a more informed direction than the goods and services that vie for their attention.

    Rather than brands telling consumers what they need, how they can get it and what it can do, it has become a customer driven-world where every ad, event and occasion is – or should be – dictated by the end user.

    The game-changers are engagement and experience. Thankfully for their clients, many agencies in Dubai have recognised the importance and impact of experiential marketing and the power of humanising a brand through immersion and interaction.

    Craig Borthwick

    Craig Borthwick, Partner at Lightblue, the agency behind such campaigns as the regional release of PlayStation’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, which took guests to Katmandu to undertake a quest of their own across the city, believes interaction is essential.

    “We need to create an intrigue so that consumers will want to know what this new thing is, making something so irresistible that they can’t help themselves. To create an event which gives people the chance to enjoy the experience, not just be told about it.

    “Money can’t buy experiences like these. The smells, the touch, the taste, all the senses make brand and consumer sharing an adventure,” Borthwick added. “Convert this to fan loyalty and it becomes more of a human friendship.”

    82% of customers always buy from a company with which they have high emotional engagement.

     – The Capgemini report ‘Loyalty Deciphered – How Emotions Drive Genuine Engagement’

    However, one of the primary obstacles is defining how audience participation works, as Omar Rahman, President of TGP, explains: “Experiential marketing is often seen as an impressive way to ‘show off’ your brand. It’s not. It’s a way to get people involved with your brand through positive experiences. It aims to spark excitement amongst your target audience by leveraging the things they care about.”

    From that involvement, harnessing both the potential and reality of social media becomes the brand’s greatest ambassador.

    “It’s important to keep in mind that social sharing around your experience is key to maximising reach. Experiential might be focused on live engagement, but social media allows you to extend far beyond that,” Rahman adds.

    A survey by Event Marketer shows that 98 percent of consumers have created and shared digital or social content at branded events and according to Data Intelligence Today, 92 per cent of individuals trust their peers over advertisers when it comes to purchases.

    70% of people spend twice as much on brands they have an emotional connection with.

    – The Capgemini report ‘Loyalty Deciphered – How Emotions Drive Genuine Engagement’

    While these peer recommendations for relevant brands are now accepted by a growing number of agencies across Dubai as more valuable than any other form of marketing, Borthwick recognises there is some way to go.

    “There is no doubt it is a lot better here now, but there are plenty of people who are still going along the conventional route. As well as a melting pot of cultures, Dubai is still a very opinionated place. At Lightblue we spend a lot of time with our audiences, engaging with Millennials and Gen Z, researching into what and how we engage.”

    81% of customers who are emotionally connected with a brand will share it with friends and family.

     – The Capgemini report ‘Loyalty Deciphered – How Emotions Drive Genuine Engagement’

    Lightblue played a major role in December’s Sole DXB event as the driving force behind Rebook’s celebration of ‘iconic Classics to a crowd of 80’s and 90’s culture vultures’ and the huge Adidas Originals platform.

    “Sole DXB is a great example of an experiential event. A coming together of music, fashion, entertainment and, above all, experiences which has come about through listening to what is on the street and reflecting that in the festival,” says Borthwick, who has been with Lightblue – Global Experiential Agency Of The Year 2017 – since its inception in 2007.

    Farfetch at SoleDXB

    It will come as a good news to Borthwick, Rahman et al that not only are clients recognising the power of experience at their own dedicated events but that there is a tremendous shift in involving delegates and participants at events and exhibitions in general. Julius Solaris, named as one of the 25 most influential individuals in the Meeting Industry by Successful Meetings Magazine, listed 10 of his 20 ‘Tactics to Drive More Attendees to Exhibition Booths’ this year as interactive and experiential.

    While momentum may be gathering pace, the concept of events geared towards proactive rather than passive is still relatively new in the grand scheme of things but the truth has been known for some time. John Gay, the 17th century English poet and dramatist said nearly 400 years ago: “Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.”

    Kurt Parry – Editor, eventnewsdxb.com


    Leave a Reply