Here Are 15 of Marketing's Most Memorable Experiential Moves
20th Century Fox: "The Simpsons Kwik-E Mart"
In 2007, 20th Century Fox hyped the release of "The Simpsons Movie" by bringing Kwik-E-Mart convenience stores to the real world. The studio partnered with 7-Eleven and its agency Tracy Locke to transform a dozen stores into their "Simpsons" counterpart. The shelves even boasted familiar treats like pink sprinkled doughnuts, Buzz cola and Krusty-Os cereal.
TNT: "Push to Add Drama"
This effort from Belgian agency Duval Guillaume forever raised the bar for stunts. In 2012, in a sleepy Belgian town square, passersby encountered a mysterious red button labeled "Push to Add Drama." Those who bit unleashed havoc on the streets in the form of ambulances, fist fights and gunshots -- all in an effort to promote the channel's "Daily Dose of Drama."
TNT: "Ewing Energies"
On the other side of the Atlantic, TNT set out to promote the third season of "Dallas" last month by installing the first Ewing Energies flagship gas station in Manhattan -- with prices set to kill the competition at $1.98 a gallon. Located at 10th Avenue and 37th street in New York, the station was open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Feb. 24, the day of the season premiere. One of the show's stars, Josh Henderson, even stopped by for a visit.
"Selfridges: "No Noise"
Last year, British retailer Selfridges launched an unusual campaign via agency 18 Feet and Rising to celebrate the "power of quiet." When founder Harry Gordon Selfridge opened the shop in 1909, it included a "Silence Room" where customers could get respite from the shopping storm. "No Noise" translated that idea into a host of initiatives, including a silence room designed by architect Alex Cochrane as well as "The Quiet Shop." The boutique featured carefully curated products from brands such as Levi's, and Marmite, which agreed to remove the "loud" logos that adorn their products for more minimalist labeling.
MGM: "Carrie: A Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise
Agency Thinkmodo is behind some of the most entertaining and passed-around experiential videos, including this recent effort to promote MGM's remake of "Carrie" last year. Patrons of a coffee shop witnessed a young woman send a man up the side of a brick wall with a flick of her hand after he accidentally spilled his coffee on her laptop -- a "real world" example of the telekinetic rage that drives the film's title character.
Red Bull: "Stratos"
Red Bull outextremed itself when it sent skydiver Felix Baumgartner on the world's highest skydive -- from 24 miles above Earth. Red Bull announced the effort at the beginning of 2010 and on Oct. 14, 2012, Mr. Baumgartner made his leap. It became one of the most-talked-about events of the year -- clips of the feat even served as the intro and finale to Google's annual zeitgeist video.
One of the most celebrated examples of technology-meets-the real world, Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., Deeplocal and Standard Robot in 2009 created a roving vehicle that imprinted messages of hope sent by tweeters along the route of the Tour de France. It also snapped images of those chalk notes and sent them to those who tweeted them. Meant to promote Lance Armstrong's Livestrong, the effort led to a 46% increase in apparel sales for the organization. And although the reputation of its founder later crashed, Chalkbot remains a landmark experiential effort.
The cornerstone of this 2007 multiplatform campaign from BBDO, New York, was a "Rear Window"-style film that gave a peek into the interconnected lives of various apartment dwellers. The film, directed by RSA's Jake Scott, was projected onto the facade of a New York building, giving onlookers a true sense of voyeurism. The effort was designed to assert HBO's position as a storyteller like no other.
Hot Outdoor Advertisers
This year, Coca-Cola, the Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau and charity Caritas created bus shelters that warm shivering commuters in wintry climes while promoting brand messages. Coke brought "happiness" to the frigid in Sweden; Fort Lauderdale reminded New Yorkers that they could be wearing bikinis elsewhere; and Caritas showed how far donations could go to providing comfort for others.
Gatorade and agency TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles teamed up in 2009 to give rival high-school football teams the chance to replay their final senior-year game -- 15 years after the showdown ended in a tie. Gatorade staged a rematch between the two original teams documented in online webisodes and a TV series.
In 2011, IBM put a truly human face on its Watson artificial-intelligence system when the A.I. came face-to-face with Alex Trebek and a couple whiz-kid competitors for a game of "Jeopardy" and won. Since then, the supercomputer has evolved into a cloud service that enables many types of businesses to make sense of their mounds of data in more human ways. Recently, IBM invited mobile developers to come up with their own Watson-fueled ideas and will provide seed funding for the three best.
Enterprise-software firm SAP showed off its social-media analytics prowess at the NFL's Super Bowl Boulevard in New York this year in an installation that sat among more expected consumer-friendly exhibits from advertisers like Xbox, Snickers, GMC and Papa John's. The NFL.com Stats Zone, powered by SAP, turned numbers, images and data insights into fun, digestible factoids about the NFL and the big game.
Royal Caribbean: "Virtual Balcony"
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines aims to enhance its passengers' travel experience with the "Virtual Balcony" created by Control Group. For RCCL's new "Quantum of the Seas" ship, the tech-innovation firm created digitally-enabled faux balconies that give each stateroom a real-time live-streamed view of the sea, complete with guard rail. The firm consulted with MIT and Harvard scientists to help ensure the experience would be motion-sickness-free.
Coca-Cola: "Open Happiness"
Coca-Cola's "Open Happiness" platform has inspired efforts like the outdoor ad above to delightful vending machines that dispense everything from sandwiches and flowers. The brand has also conducted moving stunts, such as this tear-jerker that brought Filipino overseas workers home to their families.
Last year on the busiest -- and most annoying -- travel day of the year, the day before Thanksgiving, online retailer Zappos sprung a surprise on one of its most loyal markets, Houston. Along with agency Mullen, Zappos turned one of the baggage carousels at George Bush Intercontinental Airport into a "Wheel of Fortune"-style game that awarded travelers the prizes upon which their luggage landed.