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Your one stop resource for everything experiential

What is Experiential Marketing?



Experiential marketing is a marketing technique that creates experiences between brands and consumers. Experiential campaigns use an activation (for example product sampling, immersive experiences, stunts, events, etc.) to bring brands to life and interact directly with the target audience.

Experiential marketing and brands

People are now more cynical about brands than they’ve ever been. Brands are struggling to remain relevant and meaningful by simply using traditional marketing communications. It’s time for a re-think.

Brands are struggling to create significant, long-lasting impressions in this digital age. Real world experiential marketing campaigns provide an opportunity to leave an impression, intrigue and compel consumers. Campaigns can span a range of executions/techniques from live experiences, to creative sampling, roadshows, festivals, social content, digital campaigns, PR stunts, partnerships, and much more.

Experiential marketing gets to the heart of what motivates people, positioning brands as useful, interesting, relevant and desirable. The best campaigns put people first, aiming to delight, provoke, challenge, inspire, motivate and, ultimately, produce tangible results. See some examples here.

Growing numbers of marketers are allocating more budget to experiential marketing, even over advertising. More than half of chief marketers will spend at least a fifth of their budget on experiential in the near future. You can read more about the growth in experiential marketing and the acceleration in experiential spend on our blog.

It’s not all plain sailing though. Many brands have reservations about experiential marketing, as it can be uniquely challenging to execute and get results from. Some commonly cited challenges include:

  • Difficulty measuring success
  • Reach too low
  • Lack of creative ideas
  • Not well targeted
  • Doesn’t drive advocacy
  • Won’t payback/ROI

However, with the right approach, these challenges are easily overcome. We’ve recently written a myth-busting guide to experiential marketing, where real world examples can help you prove whether it’s the right choice for your brand. You can download this white paper, and more like it, in our downloads section.

Download our myth busting guide to experiential marketing, where real world examples can help you prove it’s right for your brand and how it can be an incredibly effective marketing channel.

Real world ideas

A guide to modern experiential

Real World Ideas Download


Knowing how to measure an experiential marketing campaign can be difficult. There’s no standard way to measure a campaign, especially when compared to traditional marketing channels. As IPM Experiential Council Chair Jessica Hargreaves said in Event: “From sampling to intimate events and stunts, to huge festival experiences, the world of experiential is very broad.”

Indeed, how much similarity is there between, say, a washing machine demo at the Ideal Home Show and a projection mapping stunt on the iconic Oxo Tower? What is the technique or channel here? And how about if the demo includes a Facebook mechanic, and the stunt gets a million views on YouTube? Are the channels here Facebook and YouTube, or are they experiential? Or both? The true question is, which pieces of the campaigns are you measuring?

Experiential marketing campaigns cover a blend of channels and so requires a different methodology for each campaign, however, the main point is it’s possible by using real world data and a unique approach.

That’s why we founded EMR – Sense’s dedicated department of measurement and evaluation of experiential and non-traditional media campaigns. It’s regarded as one of the most sophisticated approaches in the market (gaining endorsement from ISBA, The Voice of British Advertisers) because it gives a deeper understanding of both the financial and emotional repercussions of campaigns, no matter what shape they take.

2. Free experiential marketing resources

3. Experiential marketing campaign examples

The Economist

The challenge

To attract new, loyal readers to The Economist, providing direct positive ROI

Experiential Thinking in the Real World

Money off and deals might work in the short term, but once the offer ends, customers often disappear too. To get the right people (that would stay with the brand) there were no shortcuts; we had to be frank about what The Economist really is – a dense and challenging read. Discomfort Future positioned The Economist as an advocate for change, embracing uncomfortable future trends. The campaign presented people with provocative ideas, to filter out those that fitted with The Economist and those who didn’t.

Experiential Execution

Our activation set up a challenge: we offered people ice cream and crepes enriched with insects, smoothies made with ugly food rejected by supermarkets and coffee made with water from a portaloo. All those who were open-minded enough to go for it were the right fit for the brand and were encouraged and signed up to a trial of the magazine. Activations focused on high footfall areas in key cities with relevant audience e.g. commuters and city workers in Canary Wharf.

The Economist

It has been fantastic to see results continually improving through the campaign run-time, and effectively become a new channel that steadily delivers results in the realm of offline marketing. We now see experiential as our key to marketing in the real world, real time. Sense has taken this campaign concept to the next level, building a solid success case study that is currently feeding into our future experiential marketing strategy.

Marina Haydn, SVP Circulation and Retail Marketing, The Economist

The results

  • Over 27,500 subscriptions to date
  • 171% ROI with a customer lifetime value of £1.7M
  • 60% Post promotional offer retention rate

Dead Man’s Fingers

The Challenge

Infiltrate a marketing-savvy community to introduce a new-kid-on-the-block rum brand.

Experiential thinking in the real world

For alcohol brands, success doesn’t come simply from a tasty product and nice bottle; success comes from being iconic. We wanted to spark this process with the new Cornish rum Dead Man’s Fingers, taking their current iconography of the bottle-etched skull, and bringing it to the forefront of culture.

Experiential execution

SkullCuts, a barbershop dedicated only to styles close to the bone. Whether full shaves, fades or undercuts, this was the place to celebrate your cranium, all washed down with your choice of Dead Man’s Fingers to successfully create a meaningful buzz for the mischievous rum brand.

Dead Man’s Fingers

The Results

  • Open for 3 fully booked days
  • Over 70 craniums crafted
  • 5m meaningful PR impressions

4. Experiential marketing FAQs


In today’s society, people are more skeptical about brands than ever before. Coupled with the rise in social media, brands are required to be more transparent and work harder for people’s attention and brand love.

Experiential marketing techniques allow brands an incredible range of different creative ways you can truly connect with people in the real world. By delivering one-off, real-life engagement, interactions and experiences, you can start a conversation about your brand. This can be hugely impactful when compared to selling through simply pointing out key benefits in a one-way monologue.

Alongside this clarity of brand message, there’s also a higher tendency for wider reach as people are more likely to recommend a brand to family and friends following a positive brand experience.


Experiential techniques can work seamlessly with all other marketing channels, for example bringing to life an advertising campaign in the real world, sampling products, creating content or driving awareness of a launch with a PR stunt; it all depends on the brand, and the challenges being faced.

Brands often begin a campaign by choosing which media channels to exploit, then brief the matching agencies accordingly. This channel-focused approach can make briefing experiential agencies difficult since it has no preset format upon which to hang the expectations of a prescriptive brief. Recently however the fragmentation of media, combined with more sophisticated targeting, has seen the nature of client briefs begin to change. We have moved away from a media first, idea second approach, towards one where it’s the idea that comes first, and the media second. This is the perfect approach for experiential, because it leaves the brief open for a full range of possibilities to be explored, resulting in more effective campaigns.


There’s lot of different ways, but we start by questioning those who have interacted with the activity and then monitoring their behavior and interaction with the brand after the campaign. Each activation will require a unique methodology, which we develop with EMR – Sense’s dedicated department of measurement and evaluation.


Absolutely, but it completely depends on the brand and the problems that it’s facing. As experiential covers a broad range of activations, it means finding the right technique for that challenge and creating something impactful in a particular way to produce tangible results.


That’s where Sense can help. Every campaign should be developed by first looking at what the brand needs to achieve within the market place, and in their organization, along with reaction or action being sought. Therefore, a brief focusing on the business problem and media neutral; this open approach will allow your agency to deliver a strategy and creative that is truly unique to your circumstances.

Your budget will play a role in just how creative you can be with your experiential marketing campaign, although not the factor. If you’re looking for ideas, guidance or just someone to throw some of your concerns at, get in touch with Sense today.