EPISODE FORTY:

Immersive Experiences For Brands

Notes and Partial Transcription:

 

Immersive Experiences are high-level marketing but they are not as new as you might think. Join us today as discuss stepping into your brand’s world on Straight Shot marketing podcast.

 

Welcome straight-shooters. We have a guest with us today, Lisa Lacey from Joyful Journeys. She owns a local travel agency. Welcome Lisa.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.

 

Well thank you for joining us today, you’re input will certainly be valuable as we discuss Immersive Experiences.

 

Now, a lot of you may be saying – what? What is an immersive experience?

So Zachary, let’s start there - - What is an Immersive Experience?

 

There are different definitions but for me it is

• Being able to be present in a fictional or non-physical world.

You know how you can be immersed into another world via a book. Your mind’s eye takes you there.

 

Well these Immersive Experiences are similar, but not in your imagination. This is physically being there.

 

Sounds awesome right?! Well we are going to explore these from a marketing perspective… because most of them are brand related.

 

But before we dive into examples, know that you must  have well developed brand to do one of these.The brand is the draw. The brand is what makes it possible. Being able to  do one of these should be a goal for your brand’s success.

 

Now we are only going to scratch the surface of this topic today. But to better explain how these experiences are used in marketing, Zachary, I think you are going to need to give some other types of immersive experience… so we have the context for what we are talking about.

 

Ok, so let’s first talk about brand related experiences that aren’t really immersive experiences.  I call these Brand Experiences more than Immersive Experiences, though you are completely immersed in a world created by the brand, it’s not quite the same as making a way to experience a world that exists outside of the location. Let me give you some examples.

 

The World of Coke -  the World of Coke is like a kid friendly, entertaining brand-centric museum. We love it. But there are no rides and no true immersive experience activities within the World Of Coke.But, you are surrounded by the brand look and feel, the messaging and positioning, the history of the company and its various marketing efforts throughout the years.The best part, in my opinion, is the tasting room where you can sample any of the multitude of cocacola products from around the world.It’s truly a celebration and showcase of the impact that this brand has had on our world – great for fans of coke.

 

Now we did an entire series on the lessons learned from Coca-cola on our show. So if you like coke or appreciate their success, look back at those episodes on our app, youtube channel, or our website.

 

Another example is Hershey Park – Hersey Park was created by the chocolate company for their employees, customers and their local community. It started as a park but is now a full amusement park with roller coasters, waterslides, and rides. They also have an immersive experience activity WITHIN the park … same as you might see at an expo which we will talk about later. But it’s more of a Hershey themed amusement park that is in our world....there are a lot of things now that that have nothing to do with Hershey at all...so it’s not truly an immersive experience by our definition and I'm not sure it truly belongs on this list but I thought it was still worth mentioning because of its valiant, self-initiated, proactive efforts for the business and the brand.

 

Now the next category is not quite an immersive experience either, but it’s closer.

Ok, well, you’ve seen or heard of Brand Themed Restaurants. These are very similar to an immersive experience, but you are being surrounded by a brand (like in World of Coke) but not really stepping into another world. However, once you step into the restaurant, the brand is showcased everywhere in every way they could think of.

 

For example, there is a chain of restaurants in Florida (and also in a few other states – I think there is one each in MI and IN) called “Ford’s Garage” and it is a brand themed restaurant centered around – you guessed it, the Ford motor company.  All the décor for the restaurant, inside and out showcases the ford brand. There are model T’s outside, the napkins are mechanic’s rags held together by a hose clamp, the servers wear mechanic’s coveralls, they have a Funnel Tower of Jumbo Piston Onion Rings that comes out to you on a funnel. They have merch for sale.

 

It’s good eating too...

 

Ok, that is immersive to an extent... but Ford isn’t a world. But you are definitely surrounded by the brand. And that, in and of itself, is one of the main attractions of the restaurant. And it isn’t owned by Ford. Ford licensed the brand to the small business owners. You too could create a brand themed restaurant – all you need is the ability and permission to license the brand for your purposes.

 

Then you have Theme Festivals and exhibits. Now these are immersive experiences, but aren’t relative to brands.

- The Rennaisance Festival or “RennFest” takes you back to the time of kings and queens, knights, and wenches.

Then you have Willamsburg, VA – This is an old world colonial town where you can step back in history.

You can also see Immersive Museums Exhibitions like Van Gogh Live – where you can walk into a famous Van Gogh painting

 

Now, how can Business use these example?

You can create an immersive experience like these from anything… and that could be an attraction to your business. Even if it was just a certain times of the year not necessarily all year around. Have a Harry Potter event or a stage a film set in your store for a limited time. Anything that will draw in customers and allow them to immerse themselves in another world for a time.

 

Just some ideas to get your brains working. But I would say that they need to be done well… otherwise, you get the reputation for having a lame event or staging rather than attracting people TO your business.

 

Ok, next you start to have true immersive experiences for brands… and the most simple form, that has become common in recent years is the Pop Up experience.

 

Now you guys have seen or at least heard of these. They are temporary events that are based around a specific brand... often they go on tour and pop up in different cities on a promotional tour of sorts for whatever the brand is. Let me give you some examples:

Stranger Things, the netflix tv show, promoted season three by hosting multiple big budget pop up experiences around the world. You bought a ticket, traveled to wherever it was being hosted, in LA it was several different locations around the city, and then once you entered, you could walk into the world of Stranger Things... you could order ice cream from Scoops Ahoy, Shop the StarCourt Mall, sit on Winona Ryder’s couch, so much.

Now if you are watching us on YouTube, apple podcasts, StraightShot.net, or our app, we are showing video of what these look like so you can really get an idea of what these experiences look like.

 

This one is particularly impressive – they cobranded with Coke and gave out a limited run of New Coke – because the show is set in the 80s. They had scavenger hunts and other activities to make the event more purposeful and active. It looks great.

 

Another of these pop ups was from Nickelodeon where you could actually get slimed. Now this was great because the generation that watched Nickelodeon when it was new, now had kids. And as parents, we want to share what we loved about our own childhood with our children. So people flocked to these pop up experiences, and in today’s age, the video blogged it and the internet was filled with vlogs of them sharing the experience with their children. Huge smash.

 

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel TV show held a pop up experience in NY where they brought back the famous Carnegie Deli in all its 50s glory. It was just for a few days – so it had the urgency of being a very temporary promo event and people lined p around the block for it. Even people that didn’t know the show and just wanted to experience the famous Carnegie Deli that had been closed many years before. They also had a branded food truck that was in play for those that couldn’t get to the Deli.

 

The FRIENDS TV show had a pop up event in NYC also...where you could walk onto the sets of the show that had been set up in empty store fronts. Most of these temporary events were in empty storefronts that were rented for a very temporary amount of time, so it was good for commercial realtors as well.... used their available inventory even if it was just for a short time.

 

Now there are also pop up events that feature several brands at the same time as well. Like Candytopia. This event has sculptures and activities made completely out of candy....and featured several different brands of candy that were all for sale.

 

Now there was a pop-up called 29 Days that actually sold booths to different brands. It was basically a temporary art show that had booths/spaces that were sponsored by different brands and featured these brands in an artistic way – so not just paid for, but actually in the art display itself.

 

Now you can’t talk about immersive experiences without thinking about the digital platforms and VR technology. Now there were virtual reality experiences at larger expos like the one that Reebok sponsored for the NHL where you could go into a professional hockey game.

 

There are also a lot of immersive experiences that are on home units like the Oculus – where you can go on Safari and play with elephants using 360 video and VR technology. A lot of these types of experiences were centered around education or entertainment. You can walk into history and learn things by being in the experience.

 

Speaking of home experiences, there are also video game sponsorships that happen. Now video games are not truly immersive in that they don’t use VR... but you do kinda get lost in another world... it’s just through a regular TV monitor. And video games are hugely popular. Abd brands can buy billboards inside of game worlds, make their own skins or clothing for the characters in games like FortNite. Nike placed their logo on the clothing of the characters in FortNite...so video games have started to use product placement very similar to what you see in movies. I actually heard political speeches coming from the other room while my son was playing fortnite so even nonprofit organizations are buy sponsorships in these games. Well, I don’t think that’s right – kids play these games and using that platform to influence kids on your own agenda behind the parents back is just wrong. Letting kids know about a product is one thing but trying to convince them of your way of thinking is just over the line. Don’t put propaganda in my kids’ entertainment. But it’s also in kids movies and tv shows, I just think is very wrong. They’re not old enough to discern these concepts on their own... that’s why they still live with their parents. So just stop it. Yeah, but they also have live streaming events with entertainers like Chance The Rapper and others where labels are promoting their artists. Star Wars created a huge scene in FortNite where they created a battle scene to promote the latest Star Wars movie. That was huge, lots of people waiting up all hours of the night just to experiences this scene in real time.

 

But these experiences are also being used in Retail just like it would be at an expo or festival, smaller experience were hosted in stores. On the business side, there was a company that developed a virtual reality software that could be used to test retail concepts and store layouts.

 

So, this growing technology is being used in business to create immersive experiences in various ways.

 

Ok, we are going to take break to hear from our sponsors, but when we come back, we will talk about the biggest, most known, most fun types of Immersive Experiences.

 

Ok, welcome back – now we are going to discuss the champion of all Immersive Experiences – Theme Parks.

 

Theme parks like Universal Studios and Disney have really become champions of developing these types of experiences, using brands as a way to attract fans. So let’s talk about some of them. We went down to Universal Studios in Florida in preparation for this episode. So we’ll talk about what we saw. There were lots of different types of experiences at the park.

 

Disney just created a great immersive experience for Star Wars that brings in tons of fans to the park. I’m told it’s the best immersive experience available, but I haven’t been.

 

Now amusement parks like Six Flags are different. They have activities that are branded by licensing.  They have rollercoasters and what not that are called the Batman ride or whatnot but they aren’t immersive experiences.

 

So what it today’s Straight Shot Zachary?

 

Immersive Experiences are cool... they are entertaining, and they are attractive to customers. However, if you ever want to be one of these, you have to have a well developed, well established, successful brand. If you do, that brand has value and will attract people to almost anything. Immersive Experiences are a marketing tool and they have lots of benefits for companies.

 

But you don’t have to be a global or even a national brand. You could be a local brand and still use this marketing tool in your location marketplace. What you have to be is a successful, well developed brand.

 

Now what if you don’t, what if that’s not you? Well, you can still use Immersive Experience to bring customers to your business... you will just need to use someone else’s brand. There is enough swag, costumes, and toys available, you could build a temporary Pokemon themed experience or Dracula themed experience to attract customers to your shop, store, or restaurant. So it does depend on your business and your audience as to what will work. But the main thing here is to think creatively. You have to put your head into it, you have to think out of the box, or hire someone, like an agency, to think about it for you and develop out of the box marketing strategies for your business.

 

Our sponsor, Reformation Productions, is just such an agency. So call us.

 

Well that’s our show for today guys. I hope you’ve enjoyed our discussion on using immersive experiences for your business and your brand. Maybe it’s gotten your wheels turning, thinking of ideas and things that you might be able to do to promote your business either today or in the future. Please remember to like and subscribe. If you have a question about marketing or a topic you would like for us to discuss, email us at info@straightshot.net or call us at 6788258086 x 300

 

Well thanks again for joining us for our show here today. Now do you work with people that live in the Atlanta area only or also people that are looking to come to Atlanta on a vacation or get away?

 

How would someone contact you to work with you?

http://jjourneys.com

 

Until next time, Bye

 

 

Category Straight Shot Marketing Podcast

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