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Marketing Agency Leadership Experiential Marketing

What happened to creative risk-taking? Here’s how to battle experiential sameness

By Arianna Lebed | Senior Creative Director



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July 13, 2023 | 6 min read

If there’s one silver lining from the pandemic, says Mas’s Arianna Lebed, it’s that in spurred creativity. Here, she outlines how experiential marketers can recapture that momentum.

A rollercoaster, in corkscrew, currently upside-down

Agency Mas argues that experiential marketers need to recapture a spirit of creative risk-taking / Anne Nygard via Unsplash

Pandemic silver linings for the experiential industry are far and few between, but there’s one relevant attribute that we should strive to cultivate as we continue to craft experiences. But before I tell you what it is, maybe I can help you feel what it is.

When the pandemic struck, experiential agencies had to learn the art of the pivot into uncharted territory, and fast. We became experts at adapting at lightning speed, becoming even more nimble and flexible to meet challenging needs. We had to invent along the way, enduring immense stress and adopting a move-fast-and-break-things mentality out of necessity.

But could this have been just the exercise our creative brain-muscles needed?

Creative risk-taking requires confidence, and amid the chaos of the pandemic, we embraced uncertainty and adapted. Now that we’re aware of what we’re capable of, as the experiential industry continues to pick up where it left off, nothing should feel status-quo or immune to disruption.

Untapped problem solving potential

We’ve proven how resourceful we can be under pressure, but what if we re-frame it to now be driven by curiosity? With that shift in mindset, creative challenges turn into compelling opportunities for new avenues of thinking, or even chances to master new skills that once (pre-pandemic) maybe felt daunting but now feel attainable. As creatives, the endurance and persistence in keeping curiosity present as we strategize and conceive experiences is key to uncovering new possibilities in our approaches.

In turn, agencies should foster environments where creatives can be brave, break the right rules, and pitch unorthodox solutions that break uniquely through the experiential noise. Our goal should be to cultivate this type of courage-driven creativity that expanded during the pandemic, and to create a space where next-level dreaming can lead to bold experiences.

Rethinking experiences with purpose

The most dangerous phrase in a creative conversation, “we’ve always done it this way”. It cultivates mediocrity. Post-pandemic, there’s no time like the present for creatives to thoughtfully challenge the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ when considering experiences. In this new era for our industry, cookie-cutter experiences with diminishing returns are out. Compelling experiences that take risks and forge genuine connections with audiences are in.

Embrace the challenge of being open-minded. Consider a completely unexpected approach to experiences that keeps the audience on their toes. Look forward to what the next evolution of an experience could be to keep up with our ever-changing industry. Ask yourself, am I bringing transformative ideas to the table that will have an impact? All the bells and whistles and buzzwords of AI and AR fall short if, at the end of the day, they aren’t underpinned by purposeful experiential creative.

Designing for a new discerning audience

If there’s one word that feels persistent in briefs these days, it’s ‘authenticity’. Successful experiences rely on resonating with target audiences by authentically packaging the underlying marketing effort. The best way to achieve this is through a deep understanding of your target audience. The more strategically grounded nuance you can incorporate into the creative, the more the audience will feel that the experience was genuinely tailored for them.

Rather than attempting to please everyone with an experience to only produce an incremental move of the needle, focus on the audience that truly matters and turn them into your evangelists. Consider going hyper-local with collaborators who know how to tap into the authenticity you’re looking for.

Do you have multiple target audiences? Make each of them feel special by giving them their time to shine by dedicating something worthwhile to their wants and needs. Put yourself in their shoes and hypothetically walk through your experience from start to finish to assess, moment-by-moment, how you’re engaging with your audience.

The opportunity in front of our industry is too great to pass up without some bold thinking. So, let’s seize this post-pandemic momentum and strive to create captivating experiences that spark conversations.

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Marketing Agency Leadership Experiential Marketing

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MAS is an award-winning experience agency serving some of the most iconic, innovative brands in the world. Minority-led and founded, we’ve built our team with bold creatives and technologists who thrive off of the same relentless energy in which we were started — the right balance of grit and guts. To us, there’s no perfect recipe, no one size fits all when it comes to crafting the right moments for your brand. Instead, we go beyond the ordinary to evoke emotion and collectively deliver captivating experiences that shape what’s next.

Inspiring 31,000 unique Shorts with creator snacks at the YouTube Shorts Drive-Thru.

Throwing the biggest block party for thousands of veterans in Brooklyn.

Transporting gamers to a Dell Alienware digital world filled with futuristic prizes.

And lucky for you, if you want your audience to feel something more, MAS is your partner. Big ideas? Got ’em. Strategic research? Into it. Innovative tech? That’s our jam. Design and production? You betcha. Sustainably savvy? Oh, absolutely. Empowering diversity? Always. Physical? Digital? Hybrid? Mmmhmm. Taking your brilliant brand, product, or service and shaping an emotional experience for the masses? You just met your new best friend.

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