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The Physical Touch: How Experiential Builds Tangible Brand Connections

The physical touch, hand touching, exploring connection

Is it one kiss or two? A shake of the hand, or a warm embrace? As pandemic restrictions end, the government recently set out guidance on how we should hug each other.

It’s unclear as to the effect this will have on codifying awkward British social protocol. What it does tell us is that we’ve hit peak estrangement from each other. But the same time, we at KGA have been working behind the scenes with our PR partners on new experiential campaigns – activations that are designed to bring people together physically. Our mission is to invite people into spaces, and create a physical connection between audiences and brands. Spaces where we make up the rules on engagement and interaction.

As the world gets back to some sort of normality, experiential has a more important role than ever in (re)building these connections. If advertising has become more creatively out of touch over lockdown (as the IPA alluded to recently), then experiential offers brands a way to reconnect. But how? Successful experiential is all about the creative, the space and the execution.

The Creative

In our world, we take the barmy and the bizarre to the contemplative and cerebral, and make it a reality. Only recently we joined forces with Mischief and Greggs to deliver their ‘rolls for goals’ campaign during the Euros. The campaign was a huge success, with thousands of fans seeing the activations and over 300 sausage rolls being handed out. This is great creative at work. For fans who have been starved of interaction, the effect was tangibly more potent than it would otherwise have been. You could see it on people’s faces.

With the creative process being what it is, sometimes a gentle steer is required to ensure ideas remain in the realms of possibility and don’t cost the earth. The starting point for the idea is rarely the end-state. Great experiential starts here, where the genesis of an idea is to physically bring a brand into people’s lives and build a connection. You can make that world fun, sad or every other emotion in between. But whether serious or light-hearted, the creative decides what connection and experience people will have, and what impression they’ll have with the brand long after the event has passed.

The Space

Great creative is one thing, but choosing where to set up the event is critical to the campaign’s success. Site selection is a part of experiential that can sometimes be taken for granted, but no two spaces are the same. If used properly, good site selection can offer significant uplift in footfall and elevate the campaign’s value. But this requires considerable more thought than picking a site that just gets a lot of human traffic: local council and government permission, nearby retailers and residential implications all come into effect.

If you’re giving away free food next to a restaurant, the restaurant’s owners aren’t going to be particularly happy – even though the location might have great footfall. Also, an area that is well known for having events in that particular space may end up being less effective than picking a location that has a balance between footfall and uniqueness.

The Execution

None of the above matters if it’s not well executed. And this is where nuts-and-bolts production companies like us can come into their own. Having a well-executed campaign depends on being able to take the original creative idea and convert that into a reality, while still maintaining that creative vision. You want people to dive under water to find a watch? No problem. Want to open a bank of bacon? Not an issue. Well-executed experiential is all about building an emotional connection with an audience and continuing to evoke a positive reaction after the event is over.

In the age of Zoom calls and remote working, brands have had to keep at arm’s length from audiences, but well-executed experiential offers audiences a way to reconnect and have a positive experience in the real world. Now that the government says we can hug each other again, let’s put brands at the center of this fresh start, giving audiences the warm embrace they deserve.

Dan Keam-George

Founder & Director, KGA.


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