3 of the Most Innovative Experiential Advertising Campaigns of 2016


It has been another stand-out year for experiential marketing—and it had to be. As customers’ schedules become busier, their eyes more focused on their smartphones, and their attention more fragmented, they’re constantly looking for more impressive experiences from brands to make them look up and be engaged. In 2016, marketers have met the challenge, undertaking the kind of top-notch innovation that turns heads and turns a brand interaction into something that a customer won’t soon forget.  

Take a look at what some of the best in the business have done to push the boundaries of experiential marketing this year and think about how you can incorporate their no-holds-barred creative mindset into your concepts.

Warner Bros. Suicide Squad SXSW Tattoo Parlor

harley_quinn_tattoo_parlor.pngFor years, the South by Southwest festival (SXSW) has been more than just a music event—it’s a conglomeration of conferences and events that allow some of the top experiential marketers in the advertising world to showcase their most cutting-edge offerings to a hip, young audience.  

Image: AdWeek

And there are few things hipper at the moment than tattoos. So Warner Bros. decided to use this Millennial penchant for body art as a way to promote its superhero—or, more accurately, super-anti-hero—film, Suicide Squad. The studio took over a real tattoo parlor during SXSW and renamed it to correspond with a character in the DC Comics universe, adorning the place with swag from the movie and offering real free tattoos (as well as temporary ones) of original art of Suicide Squad characters. It was gutsy marketing for sure and an experience that those whose bodies are now permanently adorned with that tattoo of the Joker they always wanted will certainly not forget.

[Inspiration] Design a Jaw-Dropping Experiential Marketing Campaign

DéLonghi Barista-less Café

de_longhi_baristaless_cafe.pngDéLonghi’s launch of its PrimaDonna Elite high-end coffee maker went above and beyond a traditional product debut. Rather than having a person demoing the coffee maker’s ability to create barista-quality coffee entirely by automation, the company let the machine do the work all by itself.

Image: CampaignBrief

The barista-less café was set up as a migrating pop-up shop that made appearances in various places throughout Australia. For three days in each spot, customers and passersby were able to order what they wanted, either by touch screen or by app, and grab their coffee from the kiosk with no barista interaction necessary. The social element was all on the other side, with customers being encouraged to post about their interaction on social media using the #baristalesscafe hashtag (a move that could win them a free PrimaDonna Elite coffee machine for their own home).

This experiential campaign didn’t just demonstrate a product’s function to customers—it gave a glimpse of a potential future where barista-quality coffee is available at the touch of a button.

Nivea’s The Second Skin Project

nivea_second_skin_project.pngThe more we rely on technology, the more connected we are—but the more distant we are from one another. This is the paradox of modern living that Nivea’s The Second Skin Project promotion recognizes and plays with. It’s a campaign where the viewer—and the participants—think they are getting a demonstration of technology that’s going to wow them but end up getting something even more memorable.
Image: Digital Buzz Blog

The video of the campaign shows a mother and son, separated during Christmas time, who are given the opportunity not just to see each other but touch each other through a virtual reality (VR) innovation that communicates the actual sensation of human touch across a network. The two are shown wearing their VR goggles—and the technology appears to work. But after the nanotechnological demo comes the kicker. The mother–son duo doesn’t need to rely on a high-tech virtual hug. The mother takes off her VR goggles to see her son standing, in real life, right in front of her.

Exploring the concept of touch is on brand for Nivea and its line of skincare products. And the new step in VR that the spot presents is obviously innovative. But the real innovation here is finding a way to speak both to what’s technologically impressive and what’s fundamentally human about the virtual worlds in which we interact today.