Disruptive, confusingly rapid and downright daring, technological advances have us shifting perceptions daily, and allowing for even greater room for experimentation in marketing – with brand activations constantly upping the ante.
Life on the edges of the 21st century is… confusing. Daily, we are bombarded with news, impressions and experiences that challenge our perceptions of what’s real or not and leave us wondering: is that news? Propaganda? An ad? Or a true story?
It doesn’t help that advertising campaigns – and brand activations in particular – have taken on a life of their own, and are reaching stellar experiential levels. GH Mumm is a case in point: France’s premier champagne brand celebrated the design of a revolutionary new bottle and glass concept that allows space travellers to enjoy the bubbly in zero gravity with a taste test par excellence – one our own Minnie Dlamini Jones, Master of Celebrations for the brand, got to experience first hand.
“It was incredible to be a part of a ground-breaking experience,” enthuses the actress, model and TV star. As the Master of Celebrations – and the only African on the flight unless you count (brand ambassador, Usain) Bolt, LOL – I was privileged to go on this once in a lifetime adventure, and be apart of the brand’s future. I had a complete blast feeling weightless and floating all over the plane; pair that with a sip of champagne that is released in a foam-like bubble texture that just dissolves in your mouth. Heaven!”
‘Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.’ ~ Frank Zappa
Dlamini Jones got social media abuzz when she live-streamed a clip of her experience on Instagram – adding local traction to a launch that got global coverage. This, says John Beale, media manager at Pernod Ricard – holding company of the luxury champagne brand – is why activations incorporating influencer marketing and experiential branding works. “They bring a global message through a local voice, and give those who dare to experience their next victory the chance to win the experience too; it allows the experience to feel like it’s not too far out of reach,” he says.
Music in the mix
Given their immediate association with entertainment and luxury, alcohol brands have always made it seem relatively easy to tap into the zeitgeist and home in on people’s aspirations, and found a certain harmony in blending music into the marketing – and there’s none sweeter for an alert brand than a mega concert or live music festival.
“Music brings out all of the feels – it brings the experiences everyone’s looking for, and South African audiences are feelers,” notes Minisha Patel, marketing manager at Jacaranda FM. “People really come together – and appreciate that you have set out a day that consumers can enjoy.”
Jacaranda FM has hopped on board to do just that, and sponsored what was one of South Africa’s most unique music brand expansion experiences: PrimeFest, an initiative by legendary local rockers Prime Circle that featured a lineup of top local acts and saw the 17-year-old award-winning act launch their very own beer brand, Prime Lager.
“Any event establishes a connection around a common theme,” notes the station’s programme manager Hennie Myburgh. “And live experiences have that human connection that radio has as well – even with increased access to streaming – and replacing that experiential side is difficult to do.” With music, he adds, brands can easily align with their target demographic based on the type of line up and genre of music.
“Collaborating with other brands is essential in tapping into new markets and in our collaborations, we take a good look at the property, and where the brand fits in terms of affinity. Jacaranda all about music – we’re a family brand, and everything we attach ourselves to enhances that,” says Patel, adding that the Mercedes Benz 4×4 activation at PrimeFest is prime example of the alignment that allows for brands to play in a space “where they can profile their product to a specific market or audience”.
Myburgh adds: “A collaboration like this really talked to similar values: what we stand for and deliver on a daily basis; it’s tangible so the audience can see and experience the brand in a different way – rather than just following on social media; they could experience the talent, the music, what the brand looks like and how it felt.”
Collabs: A natural alignment
OOH activations are increasingly tapping into the increasing demand for an authentic look, feel and taste – and clued-up brands are increasingly expanding their reach and aligning with celebrities with multi-platform campaigns that include a strong digital media presence. The big win for consumers is that they are not only immersed in the campaign, there are tangible returns and rewards as well.
Strawberry Lips’ ongoing Sweet Beats campaign is one such example: An online platform dedicated to inspire and mentor aspiring young female DJs, the campaign features 12 top female DJs playing at different events around the country, sharing tips and experiences in a 12-part interactive web series, and hosting quarterly collaboration events, to be live streamed on social media.
Russian Bear’s award-winning #IAMNEXT campaign followed a similar thread, and garnered a Bronze Loerie for specialist township activations agency, Loxyion Connexyion. The premium vodka brand had teamed up with local hip-hop icon Riky Rick to release a fresh new limited edition Russian Bear x Riky Rick bottle. The campaign provided a platform for young aspiring rappers to showcase their talent by building a mobile recording studio that toured the country held activations in 50 different locations. The best lyricists won one of 50 limited edition Russian Bear x Riky Rick bottles; the top three will be featured in the Russian Bear film series ‘I AM NEXT’ – and the winner will be etched on the next limited edition Russian Bear bottle with his or her lines.
The GH Mumm campaign managed to measure ROI for the brand as well, reveals Beale: “The campaign returns are always measurable when it comes to reach, as well as engagement – but here we have the unique addition of also having redemption codes on each bottle of GH Mumm, which allows us to track entries into the broader competition, allowing South Africans to win the experience for themselves.”
#Shareability: The viral touch
An experience lived is an experience shared, and social events like festivals and experiential marketing activations are prime events for picture taking – and sharing them on social media.
“South Africa is a mobile first country, and we love using social media, so to contextualise and measure the conversation, personalised hashtags linked to content driven through social media channels – both on our owned channels and Minnie, our Master of Celebration’s channels – meant we brought the (GH) Mumm campaign full circle,” says Beale. “The use of mobile and social obviously allows us to get the content out much faster as we can film, edit and show the fans what we’re doing, all via mobile phone on the day!”
Personalised campaigns are about more than offering the experience to consumers with customised hashtags though: brand alignment is become increasingly personal too, with brands building on networks of celebrities and influencers to boost their profiles.
“In this new world of social media and influencers, it’s important understand the difference between brand ambassador and influencer,” notes Dlamini Jones. “An influencer brand relationship is a once-off transaction in the form of a post on social media, whereas a brand ambassador relationship is a long-term partnership of two established brands that share the same values and aspirations. We collaborate and amplify our individual projects as well as create our own unique experiences.”
This alignment, notes Dlamini Jones, has to be authentic. “That’s basically what I use to decide which brands I work with. I try to be as exclusive as I can, to not saturate my brand, as it affects the authenticity factor. GH Mumm‘s global hashtag #DareWinCelebrate is what I stand for as a brand. I dare to be different and innovative in my career. Breaking boundaries. I strive to always put my best foot forward, that’s what winners do! And I always find a moment to be thankful for all my blessings and achievements with a celebration. See? Perfect fit!”
To read the digital version of The Media November 2018, click on the cover.
Lucinda Jordaan is an independent writer, researcher and editor with extensive experience in all media, covering various fields from academia and finance to education and lifestyle. Her articles have appeared in several award-winning publications, locally and internationally, and she has contributed to various books and online sites, including The Media Online.