1) This year we saw experiential budgets rise as brands have come to realize that Millennials, Gen Z, and just about everyone else are seeking out experiences over things. That’s because in the age of social sharing, and with all of today’s multifaceted ways to reach consumers, the integration of experiential into brand strategies has become paramount to breaking through. As opposed to traditional marketing, brand experiences generate buzz, inspire social content, and influence future purchase decisions like never before—and in positive ways. We also saw consumers rediscover their love for older technologies and analog experiences, which provide the kind of physical, tangible reality that a purely digital world simply cannot. At the same time, we are seeing the growing power of micro-influencers completely change the way brands authentically connect with their targets, helping to amplify and reward what real people are sharing on social. And, as project-based pitches and work become the new norm, the agencies that have the structure to adjust and accommodate this growing trend will come out on top.
2) We’re Magnetic was born as an experience-first company, so as brand marketers turn to live events, we continued to invest in our people—adding to our unique staffing combination of insights and strategy, creative, business leadership, live event producers, as well as technologists, technical producers, architects, detailers and engineers, all under one roof. This enables us to be extremely nimble in a world where timelines are getting shorter and budgetary pressures are greater than ever.
We’ve also enhanced our insights offering through the creation of Magnetic North—which delivers the cultural insights and strategies clients need to stay on top of what’s trending or soon-to-be-trending across key verticals and categories.
We’ve applied this unique mix of insights-driven, experience-first marketing to everything we do—including projects like Facebook’s on-site experience at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Netflix FYSEE, Lyft Press Events, Oculus Go, and numerous pitch projects.
3) We’re proud of the work we do for all of our brand partners. A few highlights include our work for Netflix and Facebook. Netflix FYSEE was a five-week experience that targeted judges leading up to the Emmys. It brought to life over 40 Emmy-nominated shows through unique installations and show-specific programming each day, and was then opened to the public garnering massive fan appeal. For Facebook, we designed, built and managed their Facebook Beach experience at Cannes. Within this space, every product vertical was represented, including Instagram. In partnership with artist/designer Es Devlin, we helped create Instagram Storyscape–a multi-media, immersive installation that told the story of Stories through the ages. It broke through the clutter and garnered attention from both festival attendees and the press, including Adweek that wrote: “Instagram’s Gorgeous, Immersive Es Devlin Experience is the Most Powerful Thing You’ll See at Cannes.”
In terms of challenges, we encountered mostly logistical ones that included building the entire Facebook installation in London, shipping it to France, having to load-in the experience by hand onto a sandy beach, and get it working flawlessly in under 48 hours. Inside, we also had a ton of tech that had to work flawlessly under 80+ degree temperatures.
4) Looking forward, we will see the continuation of experiential marketing move up the funnel to the forefront of the briefing process, and also become more sophisticated across both B2B and B2C. Experiential budgets will continue to rise, and experience-first marketing will drive richer, innovative 360-degree thinking to amplify the live experience and better connect with consumers. When it comes to content and driving scale, micro-influencers will find a much more meaningful role inside marketing plans. For agencies, if you aren’t built to be nimble, you’re going to find it more difficult than ever to attract and retain clients. Whatever your business objectives may be, if you want your brand to make a meaningful, long-lasting impression on real people, experiential needs to be at the top of your brand strategy.
5) In general, I look at each day as another chance to learn something new and grow as a creative leader. When it comes to a specific 2019 New Year’s resolution for our firm, We’re Magnetic continuously strives to set the bar high for what experience-first marketing should look like. We exist to help the industry and our clients evolve to deliver the kind of experiences that today’s modern consumers are seeking, and to think differently about their approach to designing for live.