Phil McKenzie on Why Events Matter to Brand Marketing Strategy
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Phil McKenzie on Why Events Matter to Brand Marketing Strategy


Erik: Why are events more essential than ever
to brand marketing strategy? Phil: I think physical events, when done right,
are critical when branding your product or service. You know everything in life to me
is distilled down to an experience. You can – this table is hard because I can feel
it. So it’s kind of Decardian in it’s premise but I really believe that you have
to have a touch point where you can interact with a product or service. Some of those things
happen in private. That might be shopping – pick up something and think, “This
is really cool, I’m going to pick something up and buy it.” It can happen online, it
can happen by word of mouth, but there is something very unique about having a shared
social experience that can really engender loyalty to a product or at least trial to
a product where you might say, “Hey, you know what? I never thought about xyz thing,
but because I’m here, I’m having a good time, I’m meeting new people, I’m talking
with new people.” Those positive reinforced experiences can be transferred to the product.
Events have become even more important because you’re fighting for mindshare. People aren’t
looking at print as much. Even online, with the advertising that comes online, you know
there are tons of studies about whether or not it really works and do people really click
on stuff. I know when I open up a website and they have a commercial or something I
just instantly just stop it, so I’m not like – or even the ones I’m forced to
watch on things like Hulu, they have a little button that says. “Is this applicable to
you?” I always click no. I don’t even care what it is, I always click no. Because
I’m trying to send a message that I don’t want to see your ad at all. So events are
a way of circumventing that. One can make the argument that they are these kind of big
staged advertisements, but again like we were talking about, I think if you can reinforce
something positive about the event, about the product, about what’s going on, then
it’s different than a commercial or a traditional ad. You know, I think the commercials that
do work are ones that resonate something with us positively. So, it’s not just the noise
of them. It’s like, “Oh wow, I remember Mean Joe Green throwing a jersey.” You know
to quote of the most famous commercials ever. Erik: Thirsty? Phil: Yeah. You know those kind of things
stick with us. And I think events, when done well have the same ability to do that, you
know where you remember, “Oh, I remember that was awesome.” It was really great.
And so the brand or brands attached to that automatically get some of that same positive
attributes attached to them. A company that did a really good job at just placing an ad
and just attaching themselves to something was Mad Men with Clorox where they had these
commercials that ran online but were very short and then they also had – well they
ran during the show and then they ran online as well if you went and watched it on AMC
and they showed a white shirt with lipstick on it and then you see Clorox like cleaning
the lipstick away and it was like, “Keeping ad men safe for X number of years.” And
I was like, “That was cool.” It showed me as someone who loves the show and is very
passionate about the show that you understood what you’re talking about. That whole thing
was created to tie into a particular era, to a particular genre of work, it was very
tongue and cheek and it made sense. Erik: How is that relevant to an experience,
to an event? Phil: it showed that they understood what
was going on, they understood my relationship as a viewer to the show. I think events have
the ability to do that same thing if the same care that Clorox took to kind of understand
Mad Men as a program, the audience that was watching and what they are going to respond
to, I think the same care needs to be done with events, where you understand, “Okay
this is who you are trying to reach, this is how I’m going to reach them, and this
is going to be the end result.” You know, one of our clients is Jaguar and we did an
event with them this past June when we launched their XJ, so we were able to identify what
was important to Jaguar, you know exposing a New York audience, because it was their
New York launch, to this brand new flagship sedan. You know, after years of having touch
and go success with cars, this was the one that was going to put them back on the map,
it was highly rated, and a great car. So we found a great venue, Classic Car Club, where
we knew our audience could kind of speak to that curatorial point. Some of the indigenous
audience of Classic Car Club coupled with some of Free DMC’s audience would actually
be people who were gonna want to find out about the new XJ. They are going to be able
to have access to the car, they are going to have the ability to potentially buy the
car. So, it makes sense where everyone is happy. Then, there is a secondary touch point,
which was developing what are called ride and drives. Basically, having people go out
to a track in Monticello and drive the new car. So they’re getting now an event that
introduces them and an event that allows them to test, touch, feel, move around the new
car that hopefully leads to buying the car or leasing the car or whatever. So, those
are kind of things that are built on one another where it makes sense so the client is happy,
we’re happy, everybody is happy because they’re getting something that fits. So,
the same care we took into planning that, finding the venue and building it all out
is the same care that should be going on all the time, but it often times it kinda misses
the mark. Erik: Yeah. It makes me think about probably
my favorite intergraded brand experience in the last year was running the marathon last
year [New York City Marathon] there is a staging area right there by the Verrazano Bridge where
you start the race. And before you get to the starting line you can put your stuff in
a bag and hand it off to what is a row of dozens upon dozens of UPS trucks organized
in a military fashion. And you’re handing off your most important belongings on one
of the most important days of your life to UPS and they’re there for you before the
race and at the end after you’ve accomplished the big 26.2, the first thing you see with
you little baggie and little Gatorade is this long line of UPS trucks and they’re there
for you delivering the package. Phil: If they were good enough to handle it
that day with all, like you said, with all the chaos and madness and it’s your keys,
it’s your ID, it’s your most important stuff and they got it from point A to point
B, I think you can trust them for your documents or whatever else. Where you know maybe if
you have to make a decision, “Oh, UPS, DHL, FedEx?” You’re kind of like, “Well,
they weren’t at the marathon when I needed them. UPS was, so I’m gonna go with UPS.”
May all things be considered. And it doesn’t have to happen with every person in order
for it to be true. We’re dealing in marketplaces in particular with mature businesses where
the margins are slim. You’re not going to get 40%, 50% growth year over year, these
are mature business often times. Those marginal bits of people sticking in there and being
brand loyal are critical. You can pick up 1%, 2%, that’s all you’re going to get
anyway. It makes a real difference to impact people and be thoughtful about what it is
that you do and treat them with respect.

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1 thought on “Phil McKenzie on Why Events Matter to Brand Marketing Strategy

  1. Please look at my channle. This interview was great guys. I relate and I think we're on the same level. But with employment..for the unemployed. Its an example.

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