Event-led marketing – what are the opportunities?

Let’s face it: we’ve been a bit spoiled for opportunities in event-led marketing in the past couple of years. Royal Wedding, London 2012, and the Jubilee – and I’m not even including the sundry sporting events which are more regular (c.f. the Rugby World Cup in 2011, Football European Cup in 2012). So, does that mean in 2013, everything looks flatter?

Maybe this is what the Mayan prediction was about – the great change is not the end of the world, but a shifting of gears in marketing and communications. (Again).

I was thinking about a relative dearth of events after 2012 when the wheels on my flight touched the tarmac post-holiday. I’ve been in the US visiting family for a couple of weeks – Olympic ads (riding the ever-patriotic storm that is America) were there, but the hype here in London has a different feel. And of course there’s none of the Jubilee business going on over there.

So, does all of this event-led marketing work? The answer is, as far as I see it, simple – good communication works regardless of what mechanism it’s using. There are examples of poor execution in event-led marketing, just as there are examples of excellence. By now, y’all probably know I love the Virgin Media / Usain Bolt campaign.

The tools need to be wielded with savvy – for the brand and the audience. As you might expect, Americans don’t need an event (Royal Wedding, Diamond Jubilee, anything Team GB) to make them feel (dare I say it?) patriotic, even if it is only a little bit. It’s a ground state of being. To make that connection in the UK requires a finer touch. But it can be done – see the T-Mobile Royal Wedding ad. (Yeah, I’m bringing that up again).

So, go wild with these events if you like – but you’ll get the most out of it if your brand is at the heart of a story driven by a strong Big Idea, rather than a one-off that advertises the event and not your brand at all.

And for, those who don’t have an association with any event specifically, try to make up your own. The one that springs to mind right this very minute is the fantabulous Tipp-Ex ad, celebrating the bear’s first birthday.

I love this! It certainly brightened my first day back from holiday. The interaction is, of course, the key element – and it encourages retransmission. But Tipp-Ex also plays a crucial role in the story here – no matter how you tell it. (Do you detect a theme emerging yet? I love a well-branded piece of communication). Who needs London 2012 when you’ve got history at your fingertips?

Tara is a Director at Ipsos ASI. Follow her on Twitter @TaraatIpsosASI.

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