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Brand Strategy B2B Experiential Marketing

Why Pinterest is using immersive events to ‘un-boring’ B2B marketing


By Hannah Bowler, Senior Reporter

May 13, 2024 | 5 min read

The mood board app took advertisers (and The Drum) on a journey through the world of Pinterest, with actors, a game show and a giant flower installation.

The Drum journalist on a game show

Return on adspend game show trivia / Pinterest

Last week, Pinterest welcomed advertisers to an immersive experience in a bid to flip the traditional upfront format on its head.

The idea was to create an intimate, interactive experience, explains Laura Gaffney, its director of business marketing for EMEA and APAC.

“We know that there are so many advertiser conferences and they are the exact same format, so we just wanted to do something different and spark a bit of inspiration with our agencies and clients, and also engage them and get them to walk away remembering this.”

The experience had four rooms: a game show stage, a festival experience, a relaxation room and a shop. There were actors and a host to take people around the experience. There was a talking flower mind, beanbags and scented rooms. There was a tongue-in-cheek spoken word delivery about performance marketing, ad formats and ROI, which had people genuinely laughing.

Man singing at a Pinterest live event

Pinterest put on the event as part of a wider strategy to do more exciting marketing that spans both consumer and business. “One of our principles this year is, ‘let’s make sure we un-boring everything.’ At the beginning of every project, we say ‘how can we un-boring’ this,” Gaffney says. “We are taking a very creative and bold approach in everything that we do.”

Having previously run traditional ad sales conferences where the audience sits still and listens to various presentations, Gaffney’s team was after an approach that showed people how the ad products work, “showing rather than telling.”

The event aimed to showcase Pinterest’s performance products, which was no different from any of Pinterest’s previous B2B events. “We’re looking to use a slightly different approach to achieve the same objectives because, ultimately, we want people to walk away and think, ‘Is this something I should be looking at for my client?’”

Pinterest surveyed people after the event to find out if the format worked. The UK market is the first to get this style of event, but there are plans to run another one in Canada, with Gaffney saying advertiser feedback will be used to tweak .

When asked if experiential B2B events are the future for Pinterest, Gaffney says: “If this goes well and helps to land the key points that we want to deliver, then yes.”

The B2B marketing team has taken nods from the consumer part of the business, which launched its first experiential project in October. The pop-up, called ‘Possibility Place,’ brought together elements of the app, like a tattoo shop, a beauty bar and recipe inspiration. More recently, Pinterest ran an activation at Coachella called ‘Manifest Station,’ which gave festival goers an opportunity to customize their outfits. “Experiential marketing is something we do hugely on the consumer side, but we should be doing it with our brands on the business side too'”

Pinterest is one of the many brands investing more in experiential for 2024. The IPA’s most recent quarterly Bellwether suggested event marketing will be the biggest area for budget growth in 2024 and 2025.

Gaffney also spoke about Pinterest’s challenge from advertisers thinking of the app as a wedding planning tool rather than for everyday use. Shifting those perceptions is something its director of marketing in Europe, Louise Richardson, previously spoke to The Drum about. Gaffney’s strategy here is to amplify non-wedding case studies to advertisers, giving the example of Sweaty Betty. “Sweaty Betty identified that people go to Pinterest to look for gym clothes inspiration, so it then used Pinterest trend data to understand what Pinners were searching for,” she explains. The resulting campaign saw a 39% increase in return on ad spend. “We want to tell more of those stories and show how it’s not necessarily a wedding-focused campaign.”

Brand Strategy B2B Experiential Marketing

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