If necessity is the mother of invention, then 2011 goes down as one muther of an inventive year. As the economy begins to gain slow momentum after the budget-crushing storm of 2009 and 2010, event marketers rebound, too, working smarter with less and going where they’ve never gone before. These “Comeback Kids” include auto industry marketers like Cadillac, which updates its golf portfolio to include hip culinary events designed to introduce itself to a new generation of Caddy buyers.
Working smarter in 2011 also means finding untapped audiences. Unique consumer preferences, passions and behaviors begin to drive entire programs, like the launch of Microsoft’s Kinect, the entertainment brand that goes beyond male Xbox enthusiasts and gamers ages 13-24 and instead targets families and “hypersocials.” The pre-sale strategy sells seven million units in the first 60 days.
The beleaguered trade show industry shows signs of a comeback, too, thanks to new high-tech tools and data collection strategies. In the spirit of “what’s good for one is good for all,” Philips partners with show organizers to create an immersive educational experience outside the booth that showcases its products in true-to-life, operating room environments. Comdex even makes its big comeback, this time as a 100-percent virtual show.
And while most event marketers are spending 2011 strategizing about how to bring their real-world portfolio online, Activision’s Call of Duty: XP launch event turns the hybrid trend upside down by transforming the world’s largest video game property into a life-sized brand experience. It was one of the biggest events of 2011 and a game-changer for the industry, proving that even the most non-tangible brands have a place in experiential marketing.
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