Aiming for experiential success in 2023 – by Lightblue‘s Craig Borthwick






In 2022, the Middle East has really thrived, especially in large scale experiences, kicking off with the second half of Dubai Expo 2020, the unmissable – whichever side of the fence you sit on – FIFA World Cup in Qatar and culminating with MDLBEAST Soundstorm in Riyadh, to name just a few. There has undoubtedly been a lot to be proud of and the legacies of these will no doubt be celebrated for some time. A perfect tonic for any pain amounting from the past two years of pandemic.

Post-covid, we’ve been desperate to get back out, come together with our communities and enjoy live experiences once again. However, with that, there has been a tendency to throw caution to the wind and rush to integrate in any way possible, just to be there, to be seen or for the sake of FOMO. The market is noisy, in many parts’ passive and many engagements haven’t lived up to their promise.

While I believe the region is reasonably sheltered, in a year forecasted for global recession, we are compelled to work smarter. As we move into 2023, here’s 4 considerations for experiential success.

The value paradigm

 Brands and agencies will re-assess how we collectively approach and add value to our audiences within this spectrum. We need to get back to defining the ‘why’ and creating truly valuable and culture-defining moments. The magic of experiential is in storytelling and more goosebumps are required.

Cue a year of value refinement, proper audience alignment and not necessarily bigger but certainly fewer and better high-quality experiences.

The ownership economy

In 2023, we will fully embrace the ‘ownership economy’. Spearheaded by the decentralisation of the digital world, it represents the evolving mindset and expectations of audiences and descends into the physical realm.

For a long time, there’s been talk of the ‘shifting the balance’ and ‘hyper-personalisation’ but that’s no longer enough, emerging audiences demand (and deserve) ownership of their content, creations and data.

It’s potentially an uncomfortable move but as marketers, finding valuable ways to enable that will be a real key to success. Check out Swoosh. Nike for a credible glimpse into what 2023 holds in store.

Web 3.0 evolution

After a rollercoaster year in the crypto, NFT and metaverse worlds, the hype bubble well and truly burst but believe me, web 3.0 technologies are not going anywhere and on their return with their polished arsenal it’s really going to re-define the way we experience the internet and our daily lives.

The truth is the expectation of the vision and the reality of where the tech is, are miles apart. In 2023, we will see rapid experimentation with virtual worlds so it’s wise not to discount them but ensure you have a solid rationale for engaging in them and keep your finger on the metaverse pulse.

In the year ahead, web 3.0 technology will continue to blur the lines between the physical, digital and augmented worlds with valuable, gamified and immersive moments. You will hear the words ‘utility’ and ‘value’ in every web 3.0 conversation moving forward – I promise you that. This is a world that emerging audiences really want but will call you out if you make them pawns in pursuit of pioneering the industry.

AR technology is improving immensely with an ability to create more powerful and believable experiences. For me this is one of the big drivers next year in bridging the gap to further web 3.0 adoption with a low-barrier, high value complementary approach.

Elsewhere a lot of work is being done in the NFT space driven by the promise of utility, which will continue into 2023. In terms of value security, there’s a recent release of NFT’s pegged to the price of real-world gold and look out for POAP’s (Proof-of attendance-protocols), offering digital exclusives in physical environments.

Finally, look out for further usage and integration of AI, which is quite frankly mind-blowing and descending the creative and arts space at speed.

Legitimate sustainability and values

In 2023, there will be a real spotlight on the impact our businesses and executions have on employees, communities, customers and the environment. It’s time to get our values in check.

When it comes to sustainability, the truth is, it’s everyone’s business. We’ve all been in the room for the BS conversations of ‘try and be sustainable’ or ‘think sustainably’. In 2023, trying and thinking isn’t enough and will be demanded as a pillar of all experiences.

Make 2023 the year to become a force for good.