Four Pillars of Experiential Marketing (II)

In a previous post I introduced a four-pillar framework to help marketers build excellent experiential marketing campaigns. Remember that brands use experiential marketing to personally interact with consumers. It’s different to conventional marketing because they use an unforgettable live event to draw the interest of consumers and raise and spread awareness of the brand by word of mouth.

As I explained, the campaign needs to reach and influence consumers individually, not just engage them but actually involve them personally in the event. That was the first pillar. Here I will give you the other three pillars and show you some great examples.

Meaningful benefit

Experiential marketing needs to deliver benefits that are meaningful to consumers and that are central to–or at least aligned with–what the brand stands for. The experience or event should give consumers a taste of what they can expect from the brand. Take for instance one of the most classic experiential campaigns (click to see the video). TNT does an excellent job here in conveying what it stands for – they give us great drama and tell us, “we know drama”. Check out this much simpler but effective initiative from Jamba Juice (see the video below). The California-based smoothie chain stands for healthy, fast, fun eating. Making your own smoothie by riding your own static bike blender is a great fun and memorable way to transmit the brand’s values.

On the other hand, consider Uncle Drew (click to see the video) or Jeff Gordon  (click to see the video). As entertaining as they are, what do they say about Pepsi? Are they aligned with the values of the brand?


Like most marketing initiatives, an experiential campaign packs a stronger punch when integrated and consistent with other activities . This is the third pillar. The campaign can’t be isolated, like an add-on or an afterthought.

Consider this moving campaign for a Dutch funeral company (see the video below). Everything here is well orchestrated. The live events are integrated with traditional media which is integrated with social media which is integrated with the live events. It has a snowball effect; they all work together to help the campaign gain traction and the emotional impact drives it to spin faster. The DEWmocracy campaign (click to see the video), is another good example and is now being rolled out internationally.

Viral potential

The final pillar is viral potential. Most brands record bits and pieces of the campaign and turn the live event into video content, hoping to create noise. But the vast majority of these efforts go unnoticed. Clearly no direct formula exists but there are a few things you can do to make your content more shareworthy. You can try to elicit intense emotions (see the video below), find creative ways to provide information that is interesting (click to see the video) and useful (click to see the video), or, you can be genuinely entertaining (click to see the video). These examples contrast, for instance, with this. Although a very praiseworthy attempt, the film room is perhaps too complex, not high enough on emotion, not fun enough, not entertaining enough.

So, excellent experiential marketing is personal, delivers meaningful benefits, is consistent with other marketing initiatives, and has viral potential. While it is hard to excel on all these areas, managers would be well advised to aim to hit a minimum on all four pillars.


About Inigo Gallo

Iñigo is assistant professor in the Marketing Department at IESE Business School. Iñigo has received his Ph.D. degree in Management from the Anderson School of Management, UCLA. Previous to his doctoral studies, Iñigo received an undergraduate degree in Business and Economics from the University of Barcelona, worked for a number of years as a management consultant for Everis, and received his MBA from IESE Business School.