A few years ago I had a chuckle when a friend of mine and co-founder of Cow Africa – Donald Swanepoel – told me about experiential marketing and PR companies like Cunning Stunts. Ha ha! Funny name.
Everything we do, we do within a framework of our understanding of how digital media has opened up the media landscape to everyone. One of the obvious conclusions for some time now is that word-of-mouth marketing and therefore by extension, product, is key. This is especially true online. Google beat Yahoo!, Altavista and Lycos to be top dog because of their product, despite their competitors’ massive marketing spend.
It turns out that this principle holds true in a wider sense as well. We recently met Jonathan Baskin, ex-brand manager and author of Branding only works on Cattle. He argues that even brands like Nike were first built around superior product before anything else. Digital media just throws this truth in much sharper relief.
Anyway, Gerrie and I were in Brussels yesterday where we dropped in at Demonstrate (their website does not do them justice) under recommendation of Stefaan, copywriter and blogger behind Knotoryus. Demonstrate is one of the largest experiental marketing ‘agencies’ in Europe.
They occupy a huge warehouse on the northern outskirts of Brussels. One part of which is just that, an area called The Platform that’s full of props, toys and gadgets – the tools of their trade. Half a football field of the stuff. I kid you not.
And then there is a creative hub, off to the side, where strategy, account management and the creatives reside.
But what we found truly interesting was the chat with Kate Stockman, Demonstrate’s creative director.
Kate speaks fast. No need for her to ponder or um and ah, because she’s been there and done it.
“We don’t do PR stunts for PR stunt’s sake. Publicity is not why we plan an event or an action. We plan it around customer experience. “
If it generates publicity, it is not an unwelcome by-product, she ads. But it’s not the aim. The aim is to get the customer to try the product. If it’s a drink, get them to taste it. Simple.
Or it could be added value. She explains how they rigged a mobile bar where punters could learn how to pull the perfect pint.
On the web all the talk is about how to move away from advertising to product or if not that to content, i.e. offer some real value and sponsor it. Is this not exactly what Demonstrate is doing in the streets?
Also consider this. Online, music and video are ubiquitous. It’s easy to copy information and content. Being there - the live experience – will become more important and not less.
Posted by Wessel van Rensburg