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How experiential marketing agencies are bracing for a return to ‘in the flesh’ advertising

We spoke with six experiential agency execs about what the return of branded events might look like this year.

· less than 3 min read

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What seemed impossible in February is now a reality: The great hippie freak fest, Bonnaroo, is happening this fall, less than a year from the first Covid-19 vaccination.

Not only is Bonnaroo happening—it’s sold out.

Physical—and potentially crowded—experiences are plotting their return. Marketers want in on the action too, but they’re facing the murky difficulties of gathering people in the flesh in the waning days of a pandemic.

Let’s be clear: Experiential marketing is one of those terms that can mean anything.

In the land of marketing, small pop-ups, sample handouts at a baseball game, an intimate gathering of influencers, and full-blown conferences all fit the bill. And many solely exist so dorky reporters will cover them they can earn positive media attention.

Marketing Brew spoke with six experiential agency execs about what the return of branded events might look like this year.

  • Are virtual events here to stay? And can brands even afford to do both?
  • What’s the added cost of all these safety measures?
  • Are brands ready for large-scale events?

This week, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) announced its plans to return to an in-person event in January 2022. By then, music festivals like Bonnaroo, California’s Outside Lands, Las Vegas’s Life is Beautiful, and New York’s Comic-Con will have already taken place, albeit mostly outdoors.

“They're the guinea pigs...I don’t envy them,” Patrick Jong, head of experiential at Giant Spoon, told Marketing Brew. — RB

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