By Jason Zweig
This article originally appeared on the Canadian Viewpoint blog.
In early 2016, this impressive wall, created by Saatchi & Saatchi, became the newest billboard in Times Square and promoted the Rav4 with the tagline, “How far will you take it?” In the video below, you can watch Toyota Rally Car driver, Christina Fate, train for four weeks and learn how to rock climb in her quest to take it far. As she conquered the wall, she inspired hundreds of onlookers far below to embark on their own challenges.
In comparison to traditional advertising, brand activation works to be more engaging by including audiences in the experience and increasing the memorability of the brand. In the Rav4 example, rather than littering a newly offered pamphlet with a picture of a Rav4 on it, onlookers stopped in their tracks with their eyes fixated on the wall, taking photos and video of Christina battling the wall so they could share the experience with their friends and family. Many people even become emotionally involved, shouting their encouragement to Christina, gasping and worried when she lost her grip and fell part of the way (she was carefully tethered and safe).
Brand activation by large, global companies can be impressive. Pop-up bars and cafes (such as Tim Horton’s white label café) that present a brand in a completely new way have proven popular, and people loved Molson’s beer vending machine that dispensed beer only to Canadian passports. But brand activation needn’t be so dramatic. Taste tests at a hockey game, unique ways of handing out free samples (or full sized products!), creating a live mascot for people to take photos with can be effective as well. Of course, the trick is to learn WHETHER the brand activation was effective, and HOW effective it was.
For people conditioned to sampling precise targets from research panels, obtaining valid and reliable measurements about the efficacy of people gawking at a rock climbing wall might seem next to impossible. But this isn’t a challenge for companies experienced with face-to-face recruiting and interview methodologies.
In fact, the main challenge for you as the brand manager or marketer is not the logistics around measuring the event – this is the field company’s expertise and responsibility. Rather, the main challenge for you is identifying your key measures of success. Brand recall? Brand excitement? Brand image? Brand trial? Purchase intent? Each measure must be carefully considered so that when onsite interviewers approach people during the activation, they will have a clear framework of questions that will lead to actionable outcomes for your brand – questions that focus clearly and tie in directly to your activation objectives.
And, like traditional quantitative methods, tracking over time via longitudinal methods is an important consideration. Will you need to know whether participants followed through on their intentions? Did they recommend the brand to someone, or actually buy an item as they said they would a few weeks later? Conducting longitudinal research is also an important component of activation research. Interviewers simply have to can gain consent to recontact people via email or telephone several weeks, or even months, later to follow-up on the long-term outcomes.
If you’ve got a brand activation lined up, give us a shout. We’d love to take the worry out of measuring your success.
You might like to read these:
- What exactly is the IHUT research methodology?
- Bigger is better and other myths about research panels
- 7 ways to reduce your research costs
Jason is a Vice President at Canadian Viewpoint responsible for shaping strategy and ensuring operational excellence. He loves collaborating with clients on creative and innovative solutions; from tools to data collection methodologies to quotas and sample plans. When not at work, Jason loves spending time with his family at the cottage where he’s often fishing and smoking foods.