Brand Strategy

What experiential marketers are anticipating in 2023

Plus, their favorite campaigns from last year.
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Francis Scialabba

· 4 min read

For experiential agencies, 2022 provided some sense of normalcy after the pandemic turned the events and activations industry on its head.

Last year, we covered pop-ups like Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building experience, Oreo’s takeover of the last remaining Blockbuster, and the Empire State Building’s transformation into a portal to the Upside Down.

To start the year, we emailed five experiential marketing executives to ask them what they’re anticipating in 2023 and to share their favorite activation from last year.

Marketing Brew: What are you anticipating in 2023? Are there any trends or developments we should expect in the experiential marketing space?

Jordan Makow, VP, production, Big Spaceship: With the VR headset user base continuing to expand and the metaverse growing, I think we will also see the further merging of experiential and digital in virtual environments. There are the obvious advantages around public health for an event that you are not physically at, but there are also much lower expenses associated with making them large scale and with keeping them running for longer periods.

Gregoire Assemat Tessandier, president, North America, Spring Studios: The biggest opportunity that we believe in and will continue to invest in next year is creating and developing our own IPs under Spring Originals. This means going beyond campaign work and one-off activations with clients, and partnering with them to create culture-defining IPs and experiences that we can own or co-own. We trialed a few in 2022, including a successful collaboration with IMG called Glam Slam, an immersive fashion-meets-tennis experience during New York Fashion Week and the US Open.

Maria D’Amato, executive creative director at GSD&M: Experiential isn’t going anywhere in 2023. Entering a potentially recessionary year, brands will be looking to get outsized attention for their efforts and investments. Experiential, more so than many other mediums, has the potential to deliver that attention.

Victoria Sobel, senior business director of experiential, Giant Spoon: Looking toward 2023, I anticipate we will continue to see a demand for opportunities to gather in person, though attendees’ expectations of what they will experience on the ground will be far higher. Consumers now look to brands to do more than just demo and sample—they want to participate, learn, celebrate, and ultimately, be part of a community through these shared moments. Marketers should lean into this opportunity to build brand love and loyalty through the creation of great, memorable experiences.

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Shelley Elkins, global chief creative officer, Jack Morton Worldwide: Consumers value values. They expect brands not only to have values but to live them. In 2023, we’ll see more brands than ever harnessing the power of experiential to prove their promise—to demonstrate their values in a real, tangible way.

Marketing Brew: What was your favorite activation from 2022?

Makow: Aside from our Sealed activation, which I think was super clever and really well executed, I’d have to say that Netflix killed it with their global Upside Down takeover.

Assemat Tessandier: Rtfkt x Takashi Murakami x Gagosian. The blend of digital and physical, art and street, with a gaming vibe, was well curated. For once, it did not feel forced or imposed.

D’Amato: Giant Spoon knows how to do experiential, and their work for Netflix’s launch of the new season of Stranger Things was one of the best of the year. Everyone heard about the Empire State Building turning into a portal to the Upside Down, but it also activated in 14 other countries on an equally impressive scale.

Sobel: One of my favorites was The North Face’s coldest pop-u p store. The brand placed a retail experience in an extreme environment—a literal mountaintop—and the only way to access it was to be a true explorer and ski or snowshoe to the destination. It’s a simple but bold idea that’s only possible to execute when a brand, its product, its audience, and a significant amount of trust are in perfect alignment.

Elkins: Change the Ref’s “The NRA Children’s Museum.” This was traffic-stopping (literally) work that shined a light on an alarming statistic—since 2020, gun violence has now become the leading cause of death in children. It’s a powerfully simple idea that’s simply heartbreaking to experience—whether you see it live or experience it digitally. Of all the creative expression on this topic, this work goes the extra mile by holding the NRA and gun rights supporters like Ted Cruz accountable.

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Marketing Brew informs marketing pros of the latest on brand strategy, social media, and ad tech via our weekday newsletter, virtual events, marketing conferences, and digital guides.