7 Women to Watch in Experiential Marketing
Working at Tara Wilson Agency, I am surrounded daily by women to watch in experiential marketing. At the same time, I regularly read about people innovating in our field. So, I thought I’d share a round-up of some top women (who don't work at Tara Wilson Agency) that we’re watching in experiential marketing — maybe you too will get some ideas.
Let’s start with some of the people on AdAge’s most recent Women to Watch list. Not all of the 24 they spotlight are on the brand side and doing interesting experiential marketing, but let’s focus on a few that stand out.
#1 The Disruptor
One is Ally Bank’s CMO Andrea Brimmer. Imagine the impact of this “Ally Do It Right” activation: the bank sent a drone, an Ally-branded purple balloon, into a North Carolina mall food court to drop phone chargers to surprised shoppers. As Andrea told Event Marketer, “The activation was aimed at the idea that if we’re a mobile bank and your phone dies, you can’t do mobile banking…[this was] a fun way to show our customers that we will seriously do anything to help them stay connected.”
Another example of Brimmer’s “disruptor” strategy? Creating a “new car smell” cologne, which it handed out at auto shows. Or a 2017 scavenger hunt in which the online bank hid “pennies” worth $1,000 in 10 cities.
#2 Inspiring Emotion
Hulu’s CMO Kelly Campbell also makes our list. She joined the internet-TV company in 2017, in time to helm marketing for "The Handmaid's Tale.” To promote the second season this year, the company debuted a resistance-themed campaign on International Women’s Day that reverberated with the #metoo movement. Campbell told Adweek, “The activations are meant to illustrate one of the most powerful scenes of this season, in a way that will inspire emotion and understanding.”
At SXSW, Hulu set up seven art installations across Austin, Texas of big display boxes with a handmaid’s costume inside. Adweek noted, “around the bottom of the cloak there’s a ring of smoke (and at night time it looks more like fire) that’s meant to mimic a scene from a Season 2 trailer where a red dress starts to go up in flames.”
#3 People Like Pampering
Mars Wrigley Confectionery President Berta De Pablos-Barbier also made AdAge’s list. She made ours for her brand’s smart embrace of event marketing. The candy maker tied into Valentine’s and Galentine’s Days (celebrating female friendship Feb. 13) with a “treat yo self”-themed pop-up spa experience in New York City. The Sweet ReTREAT experience offered an array of complimentary salon services while munching on Mars products. Coinciding with New York Fashion Week, the candy-themed stations (e.g. manis and pedis in bright Skittle or Starbust colors) ultimately attracted more than 1,300 consumers in two days.
#4 Knows Her Audience
One more AdAge notable who we’ll be keeping an eye on is Slack’s VP of global marketing Kelly Watkins. Her “Best Monday Ever” campaign caught our attention. The pop-up event is, as AdAge put it, “designed to surprise and delight workers in key cities with treats, tips and guidance on their morning commutes.” On one particular Monday in Nashville, #MondayBySlack the company handed out free bagels, coffee, swag and boxes of cookies since it was also #NationalCookieDay. There was music playing and a professional head shot truck too.
#5 Experiences Bridge the Gap
We’ll also be following what Casper’s experiential marketing director Monica Brouwer does. She says “live experiences bridge the gap between [Casper’s] online and offline community.” For instance, at SXSW last year, the online mattress company took over a hotel and offered rooms (with Casper mattresses in them) for $99 instead of the more typical $1250 a night. Even the hotel pool had a blow-up, floating Casper mattress!
#6 Pain Points in Perspective
We’re smitten by the creativity of Daybreaker’s Radha Agrawal. The brains behind the morning dance party global phenomenon has since leveraged the event to create memorable experiences for partner brands. What stands out, though, is how she decides what ideas to pursue: “Every single thing we build, we look at it through the lens of ‘Does this suck for me?’ And then we ask ourselves, ‘Does it suck for a lot of people?’”
#7 Content that Engages
One more female experiential innovator that we're watching is Latese Hickson. She is the brand marketing manager at Champs and also leads strategy for the female consumer. She is at the helm of one of our favorite web series, “Her Take.” The series is for millennial women by millennial women. It highlights the personalities, the success, and the journey of women in today’s pop culture industry. It's inspiring like a PSA but definitely a lot more relevant to its audience.
What I/we appreciate about what all these women are doing is that they are being purposeful with their experiential marketing. These brand marketers don’t rely on events as stunts, but instead try to engage with customers in unique and creative ways to make them pause and pay attention.