5 trends that shaped experiential marketing in 2022
Judges from The Drum Awards for Experience 2022 give us a rundown of the biggest trends emerging from this year’s winning work.
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Earlier this month we celebrated the very best in experiential marketing at The Drum Awards for Experience during the first-ever The Drum Awards Festival. (You can watch the reveal again here or read the full list of winners here.)
We also caught up with the judges of the 2022 show to hear their thoughts on this year’s entrants and about the innovative trends in the experiential space. Here’s what they had to say...
1. ‘Getting tech right IRL and online’
Susan Liu Jones, head of experience production, BBH London: “My favorite category was Event Technology as this is close to my heart and craft. Over the years, my role at BBH has expanded from delivering pure digital projects to larger-scale experiential work and there were a number of entries submitted that I wish I’d been a part of! It was great to see many submissions utilizing technology to enhance the idea as opposed to using tech innovation for the sake of it.
“The work I liked most brought remote and live audiences together to enjoy the same event, elevating and pushing the boundaries of the brand experience landscape. In a post Covid and hybrid world, this will be the way forward.
“While, not a requirement, it was a nice surprise and encouraging to note many entries included sustainability considerations, incorporating elements that live beyond the life of the activation.”
2. ‘Expect the unexpected’
Tim Baggott, executive creative director, Amplify Australia: “The work that generated the most enthusiasm wasn’t necessarily the largest, most ambitious in scale, but instead the work that provided new unexpected guest experiences.
“Also, the Sponsorship Activation/Event category showcased a real variety of approaches. Whether by showing up in unexpected locations, harnessing smart cultural crossovers, or transforming a small, functional event moment into a memorable brand experience, you get the sense that both brands and agencies are keen to extract more value from these opportunities by breaking the format.
“But this year some saw amazing examples of event technology. Clean, flawlessly executed experiences that belie the complexity of the technological solution sitting behind them. Resisting the temptation to show off what’s behind the curtain yields magical, memorable experiences for the audience.”
3. ‘Losing touch with ‘live’ experiences’
Victoria Buchanan, executive creative director, Tribal Worldwide London: “Fueled by the Covid lockdown, this year’s awards saw a lot of brands and businesses working hard to bring people together with virtual experiences. The brands that stood out showed a strategic combination of the correct technologies such as live video and camera setups to ensure they were designing experiences specifically for their target audiences.
“Many entries created experiences with lots of pre-recorded video content. For me, these experiences lacked the feeling of an ’event’ and we just jump from video to video. The ’live’ aspect is lost and the authentic on-stage vibe is not there. I want to see real people with authenticity, such as real mistakes and words tripped over to feel human, honest and alive. Less recorded video, please.”
4. ‘Reimagine, rethink and experiment’
Judy Lee, head of global brand experience and programs, Pinterest: “These words were on repeat in this year’s entries. There was no business as usual for the experiential industry. New Covid strains, supply chain issues and travel industry meltdowns made for an incredibly stressful year, but the work that stood out had a few things in common.
“Whether in service of a brand or its audiences, the work that had a great story to tell was clear and engaging and stood out. Optimism and inspiration also stood out as after a period of more somber creativity, we’re starting to see more of that and it’s something the world needs right now.
“Also, not only has the industry had a tough time, but our customers have too. Strategies that put the audience’s needs front and center were important. And technology isn’t the solution, but an enabler for storytelling and engagement - while experimenting with new technologies and universes is what keeps our industry dynamic, ensuring there was a clear rationale behind using it was important. Tech for tech’s sake generally doesn’t fare well.
“Whatever you do, don’t call this new class of digital experiences a webinar.”
5. ‘The evolution of real life’
Varghese Chacko, founding partner and president, NYC Nightlife United: “This industry thrives on innovating mediums. During the pandemic, we evolved the one venue we couldn’t visit: IRL. It wasn’t always just the newest baubles that succeeded but also relevant amalgams of existing technology. Livestreams/video chats have been around for over a decade yet it’s the basis for much of our recent engagement.
“The nominees’ work reflected the challenges that businesses are facing. A major theme was interactivity with two-way communication becoming a benchmark. Inclusion was a welcome shift as audience demos were broader in scope. The use cases for in-person, virtual and hybrid are expanding into interesting areas. Audiences are being more intentional with their in-person time while brands are more discerning.”
The Drum Awards for Marketing are now open for entry. Make sure you apply before the early deadline on January 26, 2023.