JD Bracknell of experiential agency wemakestuffhappen gives us a 5 point checklist when planning and experiential campaign.
When you work on producing experiential events, it’s rare to do the same thing twice – but that doesn’t mean every time you begin a project you should start from scratch. Here are some basic rules you can follow to give your activation a greater chance of success:
1. identify the constraints
“I need to make this big/exploding/interactive/immersive/flying thing and I heard you might be able to help. So. Is it possible?”
That’s how most of our conversations with new clients start. We’ve floated 12 tons of Easter Egg on Loch Ness and covered Truman Brewery in clothes, so the answer is usually yes. Most things are possible. The real question is: do we have the time and/or the money to do the exploding/flying/big thing?
We would love to be able to build something the size of a house for the price of a packet of Frazzles by tomorrow afternoon, but unfortunately reality has its own ideas about what’s achievable. Being aware of the constraints of a project – be they budgetary or time-frame – helps producers to help agencies scale or modify an idea to achieve the best result. Don’t be afraid of sharing those – constraints often inspire creative solutions.
2. visualise success
When working on something wonderfully weird, describing your vision is tricky. One way to nail things down is to focus on specifics. Your client might insist they want something big, but how big is big? Person big, tree big, or building big? Making sure everyone – client, agency, production team – is using the same definition can save time and ensure the quotes you receive are for something in the correct scale.
If words fail, a blurry pic of a scribble on a beermat is usually all it takes to bridge the gap between your dream and our ability to create it for you. We won’t judge your artistic skills, promise.
3. dream a little… more like a builder, darling
We don’t expect you to know anything about how we do what we do, but when approaching a production partner, it’s helpful to keep in mind the classic rule of building stuff: things can be built quickly, cheaply, or well. Achieving two of the three is often feasible, but not all three at once. So, if you want something good and cheap it’s not going to be fast, if you want something fast and good it’s not going to be cheap. And if you want it fast and cheap, well, let’s not go there because no one likes doing things that aren’t good.
4. create the unexpected
Everyone understands the element of surprise is vital to marketing, but few ideas are truly new or wholly unexpected, especially if you’re renting a space the same commuters traipse past every day.
We know we know, brands love to see their stunt in The Metro and literally everything looks good in front of St Paul’s, but stepping outside the usual London hotspots means your site fees plummet at roughly the same rate as people’s enthusiasm for your activity sky rockets. We recently did a stunt in Birmingham for Virgin Trains where a member of the public, unprompted and on camera, shouted, “I love Virgin!” and then donated the prize they’d just won to a local charity. Going somewhere unexpected or at least where people aren’t expecting experiential can be the key to securing dream content.
5. learn from other’s experiential
If you are heading somewhere hitherto unexplored for your activity, take a guide who knows what to look for.
Anyone attending a site visit with one of our team will find us following cables or peering into the long grass muttering about grey water. It’s not just natural curiosity – delivering the biggest and boldest ideas rests on the shoulders of the smallest details. Thorough research identifies potential practical pitfalls and helps us steer you around them, so make it a priority.
Finally, don’t underestimate the wealth of knowledge available to you as a client. You need a crypt filled with rent-a-pigs? It’s not going to be a problem. We are, generally speaking, even less stumpable than Google and like a challenge we can rise to.
DJ Bracknell wemakestuffhappen