Experiential Enters Its Renaissance Era


Here’s an invitation to controlled chaos: Grab a baseball bat or crowbar and start wailing on an array of small appliances and culinary staples like toaster ovens and dinner plates, watching metal twist and glass fly. If that’s not cathartic enough, hurl a razor-sharp chef’s knife at a target while Gordon Ramsay’s disembodied voice supplies a tough-love motivational soundtrack.

As a promotion for the new season of reality competition show Kitchen Nightmares, the Fox network set up “rage rooms” in five American cities this fall, giving consumers with simmering aggression and a modicum of upper-body strength a safe way to vent.

More recently, Netflix kicked off a real-life approximation of its blockbuster South Korean import with “Squid Game: The Trials” in Los Angeles, promising “a series of escalating challenges” to competitors bold enough to face the diabolical Front Man and answer the ominous question, “Would you like to play a game with me?” It’s red light, green light—the nonlethal version.

On the opposite end of the spectrum—but no less heart-pumping, if tony merchandise is an adrenaline rush—luxury retailer Neiman Marcus intertwined its famous annual “fantasy gifts” with more bespoke activities than ever. 

The goal—per the chain’s president, Ryan Ross—was to “create unforgettable moments” that dovetail into one-of-a-kind holiday presents. For example, giftees could sail through Indonesia on a treasure hunt with Pelorus Yachting, become a Disney animated character or design a masterpiece out of Baccarat crystal.

These immersive programs serve as noteworthy codas in a year that overflowed with brand-backed activations of every stripe, which helped broaden the definition of experiential marketing in 2023.

‘Ambitious and innovative time’

While the industry snapped back into action in 2022—finally freed of pandemic-era restrictions—it further blossomed this past year, according to its practitioners.

“This is the most ambitious and innovative time I’ve ever seen in experiential,” Laura Mignott, global chief experiential officer at VMLY&R Commerce, told Adweek. “Brands are taking risks, they are showing up in more culturally relevant spaces and are also being smart with their money.”

Though experiential as a tactic may still be “undervalued in the marketing mix,” per The Bait Shoppe’s founder, Evan Starkman, its benefits are becoming increasingly obvious to a range of companies.

1 2 3 4Next page

Related Articles

Back to top button