“See me. Feel me. Touch me. Heal me.” These words sung by The Who at Woodstock in 1969 and later in the rock opera “Tommy” are becoming the mantra of event marketers looking to engage consumers with sensory experiences. Events have traditionally tapped into our sense of sight hearing and taste with arresting visuals catchy tunes and tasty product samples. Now they are adding new sensations especially touch and smell to facilitate a deeper connection.
TJ Maxx added a sugar cookie aroma to its holiday 2007 campaign along with 100 marching elves and TV personality Carson Kressley to get shoppers into spending mode. Kleenex from January to March this year used textures to raise consumer awareness for its new soft and strong Kleenex Facial Tissue with Lotion. In December Stove Top pumped heat into 10 bus shelters in high-traffic areas in downtown Chicago to promote its Stove Top Quick Cups instant stuffing. Tylenol in January also heated up bus shelters and provided free rides in “warming taxis” to chilly commuters in Boston and Chicago.
Providing warmth and pleasant aromas at events such as these can create powerful consumer experiences. “Scent controls more than 75 percent of our emotions ” says Spence Levy president at scent marketing solutions provider Air Aroma. “It is incredibly powerful. If you smell something you don’t like you’re not going to want to stay in that environment; if you enjoy the scent you will want to stay there.”
But scent is more than a pleasant sensation that can inspire shoppers to open their wallets. “Scent is a communication tool ” says Russell Brumfield scent expert and author of Whiff: The Revolution of Scent Communication in the Information Age. Which explains why it is playing a bigger role in marketing events such as the TJ Maxx holiday campaign where two scent machines diffused the tasty smell of sugar cookies throughout a customized showroom on wheels.
“Our holiday program focused on remembering what the holidays are all about spending time with family and friends and how to make that time easier for the busy woman ” says Holly Harrington experiential marketing manager at TJ Maxx. “Integrating the scent of sugar cookies allowed us one of many outlets that took the consumer back to their home relaxing and enjoying the holidays. And who doesn’t love the smell of fresh-baked cookies?”
Or the soft smooth touch of running water. Or a hand massage. Kleenex incorporated both along with other textural experiences into an interactive exhibit called Kleenex Lotion Feelspace to raise awareness for its new Facial Tissue with Lotion. The product which launched last fall delivers both softness and strength that consumers were able to feel in comparative product testing. The 20-by-20-foot environment traveled from January to March to shopping malls in 10 cities.
“We touch a lot of things throughout the day but we don’t necessarily feel them and appreciate the feeling that comes with the touch ” says Dmitriy Kuzin associate brand manager at Kleenex. “The entire exhibit is designed to stop consumers and have them come in and take a break and touch different things.”
Touch also provided the brand a way to break through the advertising clutter during the busy cough and cold season. “We couldn’t just advertise it on TV ” Kuzin explains. “We had to break through to get to consumers. You have to feel this product to believe it. It’s all about having them feel the difference.”
Heated bus shelters warmed consumers in frigid downtown Chicago in December and created warm fuzzies for Stove Top Quick Cups instant stuffing. The brand distributed samples in the heated shelters for several days during the month-long campaign.
“Stove Top is all about warming up consumers and we wanted to bring the brand’s essence to life through a multisensory experience by giving consumers the opportunity to see taste and feel the warmth ” says Ellen Thompson brand manager at Stove Top.
Hot stuffing on a cold day soft Kleenexes on a sniffly nose and the intoxicating aroma of cookies at Christmastime? Sensory overload never felt so good.