Into the Metaverse
By: Alex Alvernia, Senior Art Director
After the launch of the Metaverse, described as a “universal economy of collaboration and co-creation”, we’re expecting to see a lot more brands dip their toes into this virtual world. Some might say that the concept of the Metaverse is experiential in itself, as it allows for brands to connect people, places, and things together by integrating e-commerce, virtual reality, augmented reality and interactive social media, all in one “place”. But, we don’t expect brands to keep it strictly virtual. Hybrids like Balenciaga x Fortnite that merge physical and virtual experiences will be a cornerstone of future XM activations. By not limiting the interactions between brands and audiences to physical geographic locations, it allows a larger audience of consumers to have an opportunity to interact with your brand, whether they can attend IRL or not. We’ll also see more brands minting limited-edition NFTs to help boost their brand image, tell brand stories, and open new avenues for revenue streams from their audiences.
The Open Air Playground
By: Gigi Rabnett, XM Account Director
2020 paved the way for groundbreaking event technologies, and proved consumers are all-in on virtual. 2021 saw event concepts bring new meaning to ‘phygital’; experiences became more intimate, more interactive, and more hybrid. Three calendar years into the pandemic, and brands are rediscovering the great outdoors as a platform. As we evolve and adapt to new virtual realities, marketers are rewriting the rules of the traditional event, and the traditional venue. Yes, weather contingencies should be top of mind, but with its seal of safety, this summer the most unique experiences will happen outdoors—on the water, on city streets, on murals, in backyards, and at the retail level. The open air, in all its dimensions, is a playground for experiential thinking, and we can expect to see the traditional event format turned on its head.
From hyper realistic, interactive OOH activations to guerrilla campaigns, brands have the opportunity to claim new real estate and level up their xm strategies.
By: Francesca Noto, Account Director
We’re starting to see a shift in the experiential marketing space, with a greater global focus and consumer demand for even more sustainably conscious brands and brand activation. Marketers should consider designing the planning process from the ground up, through an ecologically-conscious lens. Brands can lessen their environmental impact and promote more sustainable marketing efforts by: reducing waste generated from large scale events, cutting back on air travel and ground transportation, leveraging energy efficient vehicles & technology onsite, partnering with vendors that utilize recyclable materials, choosing alternative energy sources, donating materials post-event to charities, subscriptions or donations as gifting options and shifting to a digital/virtual format are just a few effective tactics that can deliver measurable results. Not only does this make an impact on the planet, but through compelling storytelling of the efforts it can make a real impact on the business as well.
It’s Play Time
By: Sam McCourt, Art Director
Immersive experiences are not new to experiential marketing, but unfortunately access to these types of activations have been off limits. With summer coming, restrictions lifted, and our sense of playful exploration returning, we expect brands to offer a heightened version of these types of sensorial programs once again by tapping into play. Brands will seek to transport people out of their ordinary routines and into an immersive joyful world, where they can explore and consume brand content organically, in interesting and playful ways. And it’s no wonder after the year(s) we have had; fun and play have innate positive effects on us and help to determine what we learn and retain. Just think back to foundational learning in children, dripping in music, performance, sport, art, and imagination. Marketers should consider the inner child inside all of us to transport consumers from the mundane and into something special.
By: Alex Jesus, Producer
Recently, the visceral need for travel has spiked. We are all craving to have experiences like we did pre-pandemic. But, with fear in long-haul travel still in the public mindset, rising costs of living, plus government incentives, many Canadians are looking locally to scratch their travel itch. And with this, a true appreciation and curiosity for what lays just outside our front doors is rising. We’ve been seeing more and more social media posts sharing adventures that are accessible to locals during the pandemic—lesser known hiking trails or beaches, historical insights about storied areas or ‘I bet you wouldn’t think this is 2 hours out of the city’ photos. Plus, Mix shop local has never been a bigger message, not only to lend support to those in the community during this harsh time but to share the true value in purchasing goods that are worth more than just their price tag. Mix this all together and 2022 is shaping up to be about rediscovering the value in our backyards. Brands who unlock these stories, demonstrate local knowledge and simply celebrate what we have all around us will be endeared. But how?
Established brands are seeing this trend and leaning into collaborations with local brands for more community relevance. These collaborations make it possible to amplify shared values, and serve to provide the quintessential surprise-and-delight moment for consumers. We’re seeing this trend in fashion (think OVO x UofT), all the way down to dairy if you can believe it. Milk developed a pop up on Queen St. in Toronto and partnered with local artisans like COPs and Sheezus for giveaways, as well as home-grown artists Adam the Illustrator and Lindsey Gazel, who were engaged to develop marketing materials, swag and more. This is a great example of how highlighting the talent in your neighbourhood can give your brand major credibility and propel a narrative of how close to home your impact really is.
All for One and One for All; aka the death of VIP
By: Chelsea Mills, Senior Account Director
As we emerge into a post-lockdown world and experiential moves from virtual to hybrid or even IRL again, we’re seeing an effort to make experiences and events more diverse, equitable and inclusive. Brands are now able to leverage a physical activation as a halo for content, which can be expanded, personalized, and deepened via technology, and reach more people that may have faced a barrier to participation (such as accessibility, cost, and travel challenges, to name a few) in the past. Live-streaming from events to reach larger audiences will become standard. What’s more, as more and more brands start to effectively cater to the needs of diverse and niche consumers, people are starting to see that they no longer need to just “accept” that they will be ignored, or underserved by the brands they want to engage with. And with more people able to participate in and enjoy more experiences, this effort towards inclusivity and notion of “no second class” helps fuel that sense of belonging and build community.