The truth about “experience”

Brands have been getting the word “experience” all wrong, says the heads of creative agency Imagination.

As the marketing landscape shifts from “offline to online” to “online to offline”, perhaps experience campaigns are the best bridges - think last year’s Coca-Cola Music Game.

But, as Marketing learns from Imagination APAC head of marketing and PR Pablo Cot Gonzalez, business director Lisa Gamreklidze and corporate communications manager Cindy Wong, the word experience is misunderstood.

Don’t think of experience as an event

“Most often than not, people think experience is an out-of-home push; but don’t think of it as an event: experience can happen on any platform: online, offline or on the streets,” said Cot Gonzalez.

It’s not a technology race

Though new technology is a very glittery value add-on to any campaign, Cot Gonzalez said it’ll be pointless if it’s not a value add-on to the brand.

“Like any other medium, it’s not just about the platform, it’s about the essence of the brand; it must problem-solve whatever issue the brand is having. So if it’s a technology that’s unsuitable for the brand, and they’ve already spent so much money on it, it doesn’t make any sense.”

“You need to give time to consumers, especially those in the APAC region, to catch up. I mean, how much can they absorb?” said Wong, adding that the current penetration of Weibo and WeChat have already paved a way for technology on The Mainland.

APAC is rather conservative for experience campaigns

While Wong attributed the lack of experience campaigns in APAC to budget, Gamreklidze said people in this region are just generally “less spontaneous and daring”.

“It also has to do with the more conservative culture in this region. As such, the hierarchy of experience campaigns would be fairly low given that the existing advertising strategy has been working so far,” said Cot Gonzalez.

Get data subtly

In this year’s Autoshow in Shanghai, Imagination set up interactive experience centres for Ford that let visitors make personalised videos (one, for example, sees a Ford skid around the visitor).

But to conveniently share this video with their friends on Weibo, they must apply for a RFID card, whereby the brand can then gather their information.

“The key is to make interesting content for people to take part in and, rather than forcing them to give us information prior to the experience, we tapped into their habit of Weibo sharing so we can grab their details then,” said Cot Gamreklidze.

Imagination also appointed Michael Chiay as managing director for Greater China, responsible for the agency’s business and creative offerings in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Macau.