As always, the experiential marketing space is innovating swiftly. Let’s take a look back at some of our strongest solutions and greatest innovations from 2022 — as well as talk about the trends we expect to be at the forefront of 2023.
WINTER HIGHLIGHTS: Hitting the Field
2022 was our second year working with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, kicking off The BIG Draft 22 campaign in tandem with Super Bowl weekend. This partnership with the NFL’s Inspire Change initiative is focused on registering new Bigs: A true effort toward “marketing for good” to create positive change through youth mentorship in communities across the country. Pro athlete partners were leveraged as influencers to build campaign awareness and utilized through organic social content, paid search campaigns, and a highly engaging microsite. We’re proud of our digital team’s award-winning work that earned over 3 million impressions and drove over 400 direct inquiries from potential Bigs. And we’re even prouder to now be ideating a more robust digital and creative strategy with BBBSA for BIG Draft 23.
Digital experiences are becoming more and more central to the sports and entertainment ecosystem, offering thoughtful opportunities for fan engagement. While these integrations started on smaller scales — livestreaming, paperless tickets, QR codes — digital-first activations are expanding quickly. Because sports fans have always been die-hard collectors of memorabilia from their favorite teams, we expect to see more sports teams dabbling in in-stadium AR, as well as exploring the NFT and digital collectibles space. 2023 will be the year of “Collect Them All” for tech-savvy fans of every franchise.
SPRING HIGHLIGHTS: Making Music Mean More
In April we kicked off John Legend’s Love in Las Vegas Residency at Planet Hollywood, and with it, a luxurious suite for the most invested of attendees. Our music partnership team activated a one-of-a-kind VIP experience where over the course of the residency, more than 700 concertgoers enjoyed more intimate time with Mr. Legend himself, relaxed on velvet seating, and sipped drinks courtesy of our friends at LVE Wines.
Whether it’s integrating with an artist’s own products or finding perfect pairs, the impact that synergistic brands and artists can have on fans is powerful. We saw this firsthand in the partnership between one of our longest-standing clients, Yuengling, and the Grammy Award-winning Imagine Dragons. The band’s summer 2022 Mercury Tour VIP experience brought music and beer lovers together like never before with an on-pack sweepstakes. Once on premise, AR photo moments, digital games, and exclusive merch all made the Mercury VIP room a top-notch experience and example of brand-band collaboration.
There’s no doubt that consumers are emerging from the past few years with an optimistic purview, a craving for community, and an eagerness for energizing experiences. This mindset is especially palpable in the music space. Fans are ready to invest in premiere, high-value activations that will yield one-of-a-kind memories. The great news for brands? This focus on Freedonism will give the right organizations a fresh lens for building lasting connections with consumers.
SUMMER HIGHLIGHTS: Be Back, Going Gaming
Grounded the Game brought us to the West Coast for Comic-Con San Diego this summer — and we took the 19-foot “Broodmother” with us. This was Grounded’s Comic-Con debut and we were pumped to be a part of it! The invested production expertise and venue planning paid off in this fan experience; the Grounded Backyard Experience shone in Comic-Con’s Interactive Zone. Seeing 19 play stations packed with gamers was a huge plus in preparation for the full release of the game that came this fall. Endless smiles (and screams!) came from the thousand brave souls that stepped up for a picture in the Broodmother’s den.
This was also a major year with Niantic who fired up some highly anticipated global events. Pokémon GO Fest brought thousands of “Trainers” to Seattle in July for one of the brand’s most anticipated activations. The energy was unmatched, having people back together after two summers of the global event being virtual and seeing our team maximize the digital with the physical! Niantic is a client on the front of creative innovation, and we’re always energized by the way they build on AR/VR to elevate experiences, a trend that continues to push boundaries in gaming and across the experiential marketing space.
Looking further into 2023, we’re eager to watch brand partnerships keep expanding in gaming and esports. Influencer marketing has already proven its value in connecting with the 215 million active gamers in the US. As the metaverse and other virtual environments expand in relevance, there will be new digital places for games — and their chosen brands and influencers — to show, rather than tell, their value, selling users beyond the in-game experience.
FALL HIGHLIGHTS: Barreling Across the Country
A huge addition to our beer, wine, and spirits partner roster in 2022 came with WhistlePig Whiskey. Kind of a “pig” deal, as we like to say. Our work together began with a spectacular showing at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, where we reimagined their iconic, Vermont-based Sugar Shack as a mobile activation for drinkers to delve into. It was an invigorating challenge to produce a space that would stand above the rest at one of the industry’s greatest gatherings. Next up, September included a multi-state tour for the launch of PiggyBack 100 Proof Bourbon. The Sugar Shack brought live music, branded swag, and impeccable cocktails across Texas, Georgia, and Florida. Warming up the crowds with bourbon and rye showed yet again the importance of consumer experiences wholeheartedly expressing brand values. For WhistlePig, quality, irreverence, and fun were at the front of every interaction, and those values helped form a positive tie to every drinker we poured one out with this fall.
While we’ll always be bringing bottles and brands on the road, another innovation we’re tracking is how beer, wine, and spirits products start to play more in the metaverse. Think virtual bars, creative collectibles, and custom direct-to-drinker ordering experiences. Interacting with a rep in the metaverse could be the next approach alcohol brands take to distribution — bringing new meaning to “I Want It Now” with a pixel-spiked punch, and your order delivered right to your doorstep.
Looking back on 2022 and all we accomplished as a RedPeg family, all we can say is… WOW! A huge thank you to our team, our partners, our vendors, and every new person we met in the past year. We’re ready to keep going and growing in 2023.
Chief Innovation Officer | Connect with John