Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The experience brand phenomenon!

V interesting article in Adage on "How Experiences Are Becoming the New Advertising" and brands like Red Bull, Virgin America, Uniqlo and Guinness Lead the Way!

Red Bull: Red Bull basically pioneered the experiential category. Not only did the brand rise to prominence by sponsoring alternative athletes and lifestyles, it went further by creating its own events, like Red Bull's Flugtag and even its own sports like Red Bull's Crashed Ice, which takes over old Quebec with a mix of hockey and motorcross. Even the brand's website has morphed into a blog, much like today's most popular publishers.

Camper: Most of us in the U.S. think of Camper as purely a comfortable yet stylish shoe brand. But the Spanish company is much more and pursues a brand ethos that's both traditional, cultural and fashion forward simultaneously. Proof: Casa Camper, stylish (but laid back) hotels in Barcelona and Berlin that embodies the brand's essence. Ditto for Camper Together which taps up and coming artists to create one-of-a-kind boutiques.

Guinness: Guinness may be 250 years old, but it's acting like a much, much younger marketer. The company has embraced experiential branding both literally and figuratively with its "It's Alive Inside" positioning. For its anniversary, Guinness offered up Remarkable Experiences, including a trip into space. It also released a pub-finder iPhone application with a social media twist. More impressively, the brand created the Guinness Storehouse, a seven-story building that functions as both museum and pub, that has now become one of Ireland's top tourist attractions. And, more recently, Guinness even wired up its rugby team with RFID tags (including balls and players) to capture a whole range of statistics about how fast, powerfully and effectively the game is played.

UNIQLO: Few companies have so used digital like Uniqlo to both build a brand and breakthrough to new consumers -- and on a truly global scale.The Japanese retailer surprises and delights consumers at every turn, whether through innovative iPhone applications, calendars, e-commerce, stylebooks and microsites. Uniqlo's experiential efforts not only express the brand, but reach new consumers who may live thousands of miles away from the nearest retail location.

Virgin America: Virgin America has gone further than most, ensuring that the experience is the marketing -- and advertising in many cases. The brand targeted tech-savvy consumers early on with its Red system entertainment console and in-flight WiFi. It showed off its dramatic interiors in promotions with Diggnation and YouTube celebrities; became an early adopter of Twitter for customer service; and reinforced its brand values through its simple booking engine on And now, for the holidays, Virgin America is partnering with Google to offer free WiFi for travelers.

Nike: Nike, of course, has been moving in this experiential direction for a few years. 'We're not in the business of keeping the media companies alive,'' Nike's Trevor Edwards told the New York Times in 2007. ''We're in the business of connecting with consumers.'' And so they have. The company continually earns kudos for consumer experience breakthroughs like Nike+, its online running community; the Human Race, a global running event; and more recently the Livestrong Chalkbot which enabled users to submit a text message that would be painted (digitally) on the route of the Tour de France.