The first time I heard the word “experimental” was about a theatre company that performed for and with the audience. This interaction with the audience was quite an important factor in their events. I remember the way people reacted to this face to face provocative happenings. Instead of just explaining the message of the performance this company was creating a space for interaction with their artistic mission. Then when I saw the video Lean Cuisine for their marketing campaign it reminded me of my personal experience with that theater community. The approach of the experimental marketing campaign is the same - the purpose is to experience a brand in a sensitive way that could be offline but still can lead to online, digital element. Imagine that more than 50% of the people on such branded events will make a video or photo, which probably means that some of this footage will be shared on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram. Moreover, by adding a branded hashtag you can get more people talking about the experience with your brand.

The main purpose of the experimental marketing campaigns is to educate people about a particular brand through encouraging interactions and a creative, more personal process. This is how people will not be annoyed of typical boring sales or spam emails but they will learn more about the actual meaning of your brand and your company mission. Here are 5 inspiring examples of how you can build emotional interaction for your audience and engage and attract more people to hear your voice.

#1 Lean Cuisine: #WeighThis

I have always been told by my mum that how you look is important. This is why for many years I cared about what I was wearing and whether I can match colours and accessories. Then I went to uni and I realized that most of her advice was just superficial. I realised that I never spent any time understanding who I really was and what my true inner self looks like. Then I watched the the campaign #WeighThis from Lean Cuisine which was a great example of how to focus on weight loss without diet messaging. As part of the event, Lean Cuisine created a gallery of "scales" in New York's Grand Central Station, and invited women to "weigh in." Yet, the cool catch was that: Instead of really trying to weigh themselves, they had to write on the small scales they really wanted to be ‘weighed’, which was not in terms of body measurements such as pounds or kilograms, but instead by ‘measuring’ their contributions to their family, or society and life in general... by things like caring for 200 homeless children each day, or being the sole provider to their family. The best part was that nobody needed to interact with the actual Lean Cuisine product. The idea was so well presented that it got the creative juices flowing and encouraged interaction in a very positive and natural way. The wall with many hanging scales itself was enough to make people stop, observe, and then voluntarily interact. The message was successfully sent: Don’t forget about your accomplishments. They matter more than the number on the scale.” This is how instead of wasting money on advertising, the company created an unique and inspiring experience around the message, which not only attract people to take part voluntarily but also to share this message to their friends.

The company’s Twitter was clearly branded and a branded hashtag were featured on the display in large text, which made it easy for people to share the experience on social media.

#2 Momondo: The DNA Journey

Believe it or not connections can be possible and people can be defined not only by their social habits or national belonging. When your ideas of your own identity are clearly established in your head it is difficult to accept that "others" are not that different. I was intrigued to keep watching because the concept about my own self was challenged. In this video, several participants take DNA tests to find out where they're from. The results in many cases are both shocking and eye-opening. When I watched the video for the first time I wanted to take a DNA test. The best part was that till the end you don’t realize that behind this is Momondo’s brilliant concept. Momondo is a travel fare aggregator and travel fare metasearch engine. It also operates a travel information blog. Their simple message: “An Open World Begins with an Open Mind. There are more things uniting us than dividing us.” was reached by millions. They interact with the brand in a way that doesn’t require using its products. Their approach was “out of box” and they stand out not as a typical travel agency but one that inspires people to follow their own unique journeys.

#3 Fashion Revolution:

If a brand event builds positive emotions within the audience then people are more likely to associate those emotions with that brand, which also leads of building trust and desire to share with others. Moreover when emotions are combined with an education approach the experience can be really powerful and change the consumer’s behaviour for good. After all the loyalty of customers is built not only because of one great product but a whole company mission that develops for years. Fashion Revolution’s 2-euro T-shirt campaign in Berlin illustrates how beneficial experimental marketing can be when executed properly. Sometimes people buy cheap products without wondering about their origins and production. Yet, in this campaign there was something very strong, disturbing and sad, which made it so powerful. The idea was not only to bring trust but awareness about exploitation of human beings. Their message was in a form of question: “Do you still want to buy this 3 euro T-shirt if you know how it was made?”

#4 Misereor „PlaCard" - The Social Swipe

I cannot remember the last time I paid using cash. The last time that I really enjoy was when someone paid by his phone. Billion non-cash transactions are made each year. And knowing how often we whip out our cards, German relief NGO Misereor decided to use this common activity for a good cause with its charitable giving billboard. Simple ideas are the hardest to be achieved but great admirations to their clever and original idea. Digital posters were set up in different places that display images of some problems that Misereor works to resolve, for example hunger was depicted with a loaf of bread. Then the screen was equipped with a card reader, and when someone went to swipe a card -- for a small fee of 1euro -- the image moved to make it look like the card was cutting a slice of bread. This ideas works really well because it shows the actual impact - for the donations you make with a simple movement. People are more inspired seeing their donations in terms like with one swipe I can donate and feed a child rather than the typical email "You gave 1 euro to charity". Moreover, on the user’s bank statement, there would be a thank-you note from Misereor, with a link to turn their one-time donation into a monthly one. It takes a very specific coordination - with banks, airports, and a mobile payment platform to make this event alive and the experience couldn’t just be a one-time occurrence. The people who donated through this campaign were later reminded by receiving a bank statement. This campaign not only inspires optimism and gives donors positive feedback but also encourages sharing news of donations and charities on social media. What was smart and important to learn from this campaign was that you can use experimental marketing as a co-branding opportunity. You can pick a partner with an audience that would be interested in your brand, but might otherwise be difficult to reach. Also your partner should also benefit from your audience, so both can achieve an experience that can be winning for you, your co-brand, and the consumer.

#5 The Economist and insect ice cream

The last time I watched someone eat insects was in one of this challenging TV shows and even remembering these scenes makes me feel sick. However, when I read about this shocking combination of ice cream and insects I thought this was a brilliant way of pulling my interest in what it is they do. The Economist decided to engage in a few experimental marketing campaigns, serving insect ice cream to help bring its content to life for readers and drive interest in the publication. “Through using our content and turning it into an activation we can speak to our readers in a much more interesting way, interest them in the product, surprise them and then hopefully convert them to subscription,” retail marketing expert with the magazine Marina Haydn was quoted. I am sure if not many readers than at least the right audience will respect this choice of branding. I am sure that their goal to position the Economist as a brand that is an advocate for change can be accomplished. It might be risky but provoking and this is what makes more readers become more curious and read and educate themselves more. I think this move has been carried out to generate definite interest through experience.

There are many examples to illustrate how beneficial experimental marketing can be when it is done correctly. If you create an experience that provides value to the people who pass by it, they’re more likely to participate. That is why you can try with your own mission. First figure out the message you really want your brand to send - that may or may not be directly tied to an actual product, and it might be something that your brand hasn’t said before. Then, build an experience around it. Use some videos to bring some more noise in social and hopefully your goals will be achieved. If you think this is too much creative work for you and you don’t have time, then at least let Orla do some of your daily social media tasks:)

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