When it comes to events, few players are more powerful than Eventbrite and Giant Spoon.
The former, an event management website, allows people to buy and sell tickets to various events—from small local happenings to bigger spectacles attended by thousands. The latter is the agency behind some of advertising’s buzziest experiential activations, like the Game of Thrones and Westworld experiences at South by Southwest earlier this and last year.
Most recently, the two paired up to create Eventbrite’s first-ever brand campaign, aptly titled “Made for Those Who Do,” an ode to the experiential events embraced by both companies.
Events can be an especially powerful tool for brands and agencies. Jon Haber, co-founder of Giant Spoon, credits the agency’s larger-than-life activations for its rapid growth since its founding in 2013. “It’s the thing that really seems to be resonating and breaking through almost more than anything,” he said.
Adweek spoke with Haber and Eventbrite CEO and co-founder Julia Hartz about what makes an experience that people connect with and the explosive growth of experiential marketing. Here are five takeaways from that conversation.
Millennials—and current consumer habits—are fueling experiential’s growth
They may be accused of killing everything from country clubs to hotels and chain restaurants, but millennials are also behind the rise of the experiential marketing industry.
“They have really made it part of their identity to desire experiences over material goods,” Hartz said.
Though millennial desires are undoubtedly a driving factor, they’re not the only generation seeking enrichment offline as more and more of their lives are spent online.
“The consumer propensity of wanting to connect more in real life, given the fact that we spend so much time on online or on our phones, has helped create this movement of consumers desiring live experiences,” Hartz added.
Look at how brands fit into culture
Finding a natural connection to a brand is imperative to an authentic experience, according to Haber. He credits this outlook in particular for Giant Spoon’s rapid growth since its founding six years ago.
“We do look at how brands integrate into culture holistically, whether it’s through technology ideas, film ideas, social ideas, content ideas,” he said.
While promotion of the event on social media can be broad, what’s most important is connecting with the community where the event is taking place and customizing it to fit them. “Events, while it’s a global phenomenon, they’re hyperlocal in nature,” Hartz said. “You see that quality of an experience go way up when you localize for certain community.”
Make your experiences meaningful
In today’s Instagram-fueled era, it seems every brand is creating experiential spaces ripe for photo-taking. But Haber encourages brands to dig deeper than bright colors or whimsical props that entice people to hit the “like” button.
“Don’t just build a set for a photograph,” Haber said. “That’s something that gets very tiresome to consumers quickly and actually doesn’t leave them with any meaning.”
Additionally, these Instagram-worthy scenes are usually more of a background piece, rather than something that really brings a consumer into the experience wholeheartedly.
Haber added: “Build with story and emotion and immerse people as part of an interactive character in the story, versus just a backdrop.”
Make sure the experience never ends
When creating an experiential activation, you want to make something that will last beyond the event’s timeline.
“[We] want to build an entire narrative and universe around that experience that can extend before, during and after,” Haber said. That means thinking not just about the specific event you’re creating and how it stands on its own, but how people can continue to interact with and experience it days, weeks and even months later. That includes follow-up events and social activations.
As Hartz put it: “Think about not just one big event, but actually creating a series of events is really investing in that authentic connection.”