Whilst all forms of marketing have been hit hard, with brands redirecting spend into areas deemed more essential, experiential agencies are particularly vulnerable, as building physical experiences as part of the overall consumer journey is our raison d’etre. Social distancing has put a stop to all gatherings across the world, with events being put on hold for the foreseeable future.
Despite these challenges, we’ve found that here in the UAE, within the industry there is a great sense of solidarity between clients, agencies and suppliers alike. We find that relationships are becoming stronger, as we care about each other – not only from a business point of view, but more importantly with regards to our health and wellbeing. Everyone is in the same boat and ultimately has the same goal: to try and survive the crisis and find ways to adapt to the restrictions we find ourselves under. As experiential marketers, ultimately our job is to bring people together to create memories and help brands tell stories.
BUT, IN THESE TOUGH TIMES, ARE PEOPLE STILL LISTENING TO WHAT BRANDS HAVE TO SAY?
We think yes. People don’t want or expect brands to disappear and stop communicating, but the messaging and tone has to be spot-on. Right now the most important thing for all marketers is to demonstrate empathy. It’s a hard line to walk, acknowledging the crisis without being despondent,
whilst trying to be positive without coming across as flippant or insensitive.
The situation has created a unique opportunity for brands to show their true colours and connect with audiences on a more human level. We’re working with our clients to navigate towards outcomes that work for all of us, postponing events rather than cancelling them in the long term and looking into virtual and digital solutions that can be activated immediately. We’re doing everything we can to make sure that during this time we don’t stop creating experiences.
At the moment this means rethinking the way we approach them, which we’re doing by creating virtual experiences. To us, a virtual experience needs to be more than just watching events unfold on screen; it needs to have the same exciting offerings as an in-real-life event. As Auditoire, we craft our experiences based on a series of emotional moments; moments of surprise, moments that make you think, moments that make you ask questions, moments that make you tell your friends and moments that you remember.
An experience is centred around stories, and how they connect with our audience on an emotional level. And for now, we’re finding new and exciting ways to achieve this virtually.
DO WE THINK THIS IS THE “NEW NORMAL” IN THE LONG TERM?
Honestly, no we don’t. We’ve found that with this new (and exciting) move into the virtual space, the current climate has demonstrated people’s need and yearning to come together, now more than ever. The world is craving human interaction again and brands are looking forward to when they can host this celebration of togetherness. People will never again take for granted being able to gather and share ideas, have conversations and interact with each other on both a social and business level. The road back will be a gradual one. Even now, it’s still unclear when it will be safe to start, and any return to “normal” will be slow, steady and cautious.
When the time comes, the experiential marketing industry will be ready with its knowledge of creating virtual experiences and we believe the future of events will be a merging of the two worlds.
Ultimately, everything we’re going through stands to teach us a great deal about the true nature of interaction and collaboration. To prove that together, as an industry, we are capable of adapting to adversity and to continue to create positive impact through our work.