Events have long been used by brands to build awareness, attract new customers and display their values. These eight brands give a range of examples of how existing events can be used and new ones created to connect with audiences.
If you'd like to read more about using events in marketing check out the experiential topic page, or see the Warc Index on event marketing and event sponsorship.
Showing just what you can do
Toyota: Tundra Endeavour
Toyota had a strong reputation for building quality cars, but faced scepticism about the quality and durability of its trucks amongst its key target market: people who relied on their trucks for work. So it found a way to show the Tundra's real power: towing the Space Shuttle Endeavour to its new home.
A PR push provided print and broadcast media with embargoed information and images to develop in-depth stories during the live event, and the Endeavour's final pilot did a media tour. Social media was used to build buzz around the event and raise money for the California Science Center (the Shuttle's destination), with the whole thing live-Tweeted and streamed online.
The show of strength worked as sales grew by 32% year-on-year in the following month, outpacing competitors
A 'cheap' stunt as a social trigger
Chicago Shakespeare Theater: George & Will come to life
The Chicago Shakespeare Theater needed to promote its new musical (based on a painting), but didn't have a lot to spend. It blew the entire budget on a creative stunt: a replica of the original painting was hung in the Chicago Art Institute but with the characters omitted. The cast of the musical then emerged into the gallery and performed a song, creating the idea that the characters had jumped off the canvas to perform.
The local press loved it. Earned media coverage and a digital & mobile strategy generated over 8 million media impressions in a single day, creating such ticket demand that the run was extended by 7 nights.
Secret: Mean Stinks – Biggest. Assembly. Ever
Secret, a deodorant brand owned by Procter & Gamble had observed that around the time girls started using deodorant bullying increased. The 'mean stinks' campaign used content and social media to explain the difference between normal 'teenage drama' and mean spirited bullying, including through a live event which allowed school assemblies to dial-in to a presentation on bullying at the same time.
Building on an existing event to get kids interested in cash
ABN AMRO: Queen's Day cash box
Dutch bank ABM Amro wanted to attract more younger children (aged 6-12) to open bank accounts, but needed to persuade parents that a bank account formed an important part of financial education for this group.
ABN Amro launched its build-your-own cash boxes for use during the Netherlands' national holiday 'Queen's Day' – which features flea markets and parent-child negotiations over spending. These boxes helped children to manage money on the day and encouraged them to open a a Youth Account.
Building on cultural heritage
Pampers: Bellies in concert
Pampers wanted to build its brand with Hispanic mothers in the US, and used a series of events with an emotional message to do so. Research had revealed that these mothers were afraid that raising their children in an environment unfamiliar to them would hinder their ability to relate to their children. So Pampers connected pregnant women with their heritage in a series of classical music events featuring Hispanic lullabies and classical versions of songs they grew up with.
This was also promoted through digital and social, and streamed live online. The campaign successfully increased brand equity and is now becoming an annual event linked to the brand's charity efforts.
An unlikely new audience & making lives better
Sprite cricket stars
Soft drinks brand Sprite was struggling in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) against dominant competitor 7UP. It couldn't compete on marketing to the same audience and so found a new one: low-income migrant labourers. This group lived in difficult conditions and worked for little pay, but regarded fizzy soft drinks as an affordable energy source. Research found that they had little time or money for leisure, but adored cricket.
Sprite created a cricket tournament, inviting them to participate in an inter labour-camp cricket tournament which was heavily branded. It reached over 150,000 labourers, despite the challenges of illiteracy, nine different languages and no internet access. Brand metrics and purchase intent increased for Sprite, and this dispossessed group enjoyed the sport and socialising.
Creating a new cultural phenomenon
American Express: Small business gets an official day
In 2010 American Express created Small Business Saturday, sandwiched between existing shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this day encouraged people to shop with small, local businesses.
What started a way for Amex to communicate its value of being 'open', and to support small businesses struggling through economic difficulties, has become a social movement. Though Amex doesn't measure success in terms of its own commercial gain, the event associates it with the increased profits enjoyed by small businesses across the country.
Showing people you understand their needs
Alaska Value: From home makers to microbusiness owners
The Alaska Milk Corporation was launching a new low-priced product line in the the Philippines, and wanted to reach beyond the traditional family consumption market and into use as a product ingredient. To do so it targeted 'mom-preneurs' – women who run small food businesses to supplement their family income – with a food event.
They were invited to enter a cooking competition using the new products and to showcase their products to a larger audience. The campaign closely targeted mom-preneurs, emphasising the product line's value whilst helping them to grow their businesses. As a result brand volume and market share increased.