Me, I like to begin articles with, “At Experiential Review …,” then write a complete, coherent column for consumption.
And I’d like to again, but I’m exhausted.
So tired this week.
School can’t start soon enough (never work out of your house), the yard needs to just stop (never grass, weeds), and the FED can’t even give me a break (never stop crushing the dollar, I guess).

This article … it’s where I need you to do my job.

After 40 years of opining on corporations and marketing, I want to know what you like. Specifically, your favorite experiential experiences, making you turn left instead of right or haunting your dreams at 4:34 a.m. (and there will be a test) …

Sentence structure is innate, but whining is acquired.

Woody AllenWriter, Director & Actor

Reviewing the experience of experiential experiments.

Experiential marketing is a relatively new approach, unless you count the decades upon centuries of experiential marketing that preceded it. Yes, fire can sting, but damn if you didn’t want to take a sample home while experiencing the warm flames and well-proportioned lighting on a cold evening at the neighbor’s cave in 10,028 B.C.

There’s nothing like experience to galvanize a notion or emotion (or to fortify a brand) in the brain.
Your first step, or book, or word—or song.
The bean dip you poured on your head at age five and everyone laughed.
Your first ER visit (the hospital, not this blog). Then the hugs.
It’s this immersion that makes events shape minds. And it’s not an Instagram about what I just did that you aren’t doing on a beach that I haven’t visited nor doesn’t exist. Which is why Experiential Marketing can be the best, most entertaining type of interaction.

Take Volkswagen’s “Fun Theory” for instance, which turned a Stockholm subway staircase into a giant piano, literally overnight, reminding people to revel in every day. And in Marketingease it meant the industry was already making environmentally friendly advances in cars, which means changing personal habits for the better seemed logical. Turns out 66% more people switched from the escalator to the stairs once the piano was installed.

So many were moved by Misereor and the “Social Swipe” campaign, as there is no experiential moment like carving a slice of bread for a starving child or cutting free a prisoner of oppressive regimes. This interactive card-swipe billboard let people do just that, and restored hope in the process.

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for the newer and richer experience.

Eleanor RooseveltFormer First Lady of the United States

The ageless magazine AdAge (doesn’t look a day over 29), just listed their favorite experiential moments for the year. Click, then kick back with your favorite branded drink and experience people off guard, yet brand on point. I mean, I love football, but not attending the Super Bowl Game Day Musical from Skittles made me jealous, while ratcheting up awareness another notch or twenty (Dexter!). And the painful reality the Truth Initiative explores in an effort to eliminate addiction can’t get more real than this—a potent reminder for my children. For anyone.

From Billy Jean King to the Google Cloud, there’s something for everyone to experience through these fascinating case studies.

Get Experienced

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So my favorite experiential moment? Shockingly enough, it’s one I experienced. My son and I were in Times Square, walking through the lights and noise and wonderfulness of every missed footstep staring skyward, every second of cacophony over every minute of gawking in the greatest city ever imagined.


We came across a building whose current resident was moving out soon—a few days before we were to leave—but it was still open.

It was the “NFL Experience.” And I watched my son throw a touchdown pass to Travis Kelce and Jordy Nelson, and I couldn’t have been more excited, witnessing his exhilaration. It was the best of moments, there was no failure to communicate. And it was mine, my moment, as much as his. Now the NFL will forever be linked to Joe and me because of a chanced-upon encounter that so completely succeeded I walked out buying three new football jerseys (which will be obsolete in a month since they’ll be traded to another team).

So, go, experience. A lot of people climb mountains. More binge-watch Netflix. But there’s also meaningful distraction offered up by companies trying to get your attention, and many of them earn your trust (and if you’re a company reading this, go do “something”—inside or out!).

So, fine reader, get some rest, I will too. But first, take a minute to tell us your favorite moments … what’s your favorite marketing experience, how did you relate, and how well did it tell the corporate story?

Bruce Wilson

Author Bruce Wilson

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