Festivals and events in Africa make a great space for experiential brand activations, enhancing consumer experiences and delivering excellent return on investment.
By expert accounts, Africa has gone big on activations with audiences demanding a brand experience. The greater the emotional response, the more the brand is enjoyed.
“It’s a type of strategy that engages an audience with a real-life invitation to engage with and experience a brand and what it represents. It is participatory, hands-on and tangible,” says Wandile Setlhodi, JCDecaux’s head of marketing in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Festivals and events in Africa make a great space for experiential brand activations, says Setlhodi. “Experiential marketing at brand activations assists in crafting memorable consumer experiences. The goal is to enhance these and add a new dimension to activations. Innovative billboards also create a disruption, long lasting impression and impact.”
Planning is vital
The most important part of an activation is the planning, says Mitch Bowker, COO of Jawbone. “The planning needs to be aligned to the objective for the brand being activated. Activations form an important part of the marketing mix for a brand and product; activations are where your brand marketing and trade marketing come together and can achieve real results.”
Setlhodi adds, “People are curious and playful, so experiential activations offer an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand.”
Bowker explains, “Techniques for impactful activations include experiential marketing using gamification, digital enhancements and social media integration. Ultimately the more emotion you can invoke, the more impactful the activation.”
ProActive’s head of sales for Africa, Peter Kohlöffel, believes you should anticipate the outcome. “In Africa we have found that the more interactive an activation the better, for instance with our Shoppa Show platform, or a face to face in-store activation. However, no matter what kind of activation platform, there needs to be clear direction as to what the actual objectives are.”
Activations as a marketing function draw high investment, Bowker says. “It is one of the few marketing techniques used for quantifiable ROI for clients, and it is used as a form of marketing research to better understand target markets and potential consumers.”
Kohlöffel agrees. “By measuring with clear ROI objectives, we tend to enjoy the transparency of a successful campaign. What do you want to achieve, where, why and how do we suggest you do this?”
Some of the challenges around activations include linguistic diversity and communication, logistics and delays in exports/imports, lack of certain products and specialised suppliers in the market. Other challenges are working in different climates, differences in consumer behaviour (e.g. price sensitivity), exchange rates and marketing budgets per country.
“Africa is not South Africa, that’s the first point to keep in mind,” says Kohloffel. “Therefore, consistent electric supply, mobile signal, definition of the campaign objectives, especially if you are working across several countries – all of these can be challenging!”
It is very rare that an activation in South Africa would yield the same results in a country like Angola, as there are differences in language, behaviours and cultures, says Bowker.
“Tailoring an activation to suit the target market is essential, as the target market and what you want to achieve with that market dictates how to create, manage and execute the activation.”
Bowker adds that scale can be challenging. “A large-scale roll-out can cost a lot in the beginning and you are dealing with real people, therefore the resources needed to achieve these results are large. This can be a barrier to nationwide activations versus focusing on one metropolitan area at a time.”
As Setlhodi says, every market is different, so it is close to impossible to have a generic concept for activations and therefore customisation is critical for each region.
When dealing with multiple regions within one country as a large roll-out, Bowker says this can be achieved quite well “if the target market for the product is clearly understood and the areas in which you activate speak to these target markets.
“Jawbone deals with clients in investment banking, retail and FMCG industries and we see all our activations working well.” Among the most popular brands are Nespresso, M&Ms, LEGO, and Energade.” (To me this quote is just self-promotion and doesn’t add value to the story. I would remove it).
Kohlöffel adds, “A simple campaign with a brand building message or a product related message for an electronic device, for example, could potentially work across several regions. We do find, however, that the more regional you make the campaign messages – the target market, their habits, the platform being used, etc. – the better the overall results are.”
This story was first published in the June 2018 issue of The Media magazine.
Iza Grek is a freelance writer at A word or 2. She is editor, sub-editor, blogger and award-winning journalist based in Johannesburg. Her interests include media and advertising, personal development, psychology, lifestyle and organisational development.