2 More Agencies Launch Experiential Divisions to Meet Rising Client Demand

Making up for dips in traditional spend

Agencies are creating more experiences to entice consumers. Getty Images
Headshot of Lindsay Rittenhouse

As marketers increasingly move to reach distracted consumers through in-person experiential marketing activations, more and more brands expect their agency partners to follow along. The list of shops launching their experiential divisions grows longer by the day, and its growth shows no signs of slowing down.

The numbers strongly support this trend. According to research from IPG-owned Momentum Worldwide, experiential marketing—such as hosting an event versus distributing an ad—gets 82 percent of participants talking about a brand with others, moves 62 percent to research a brand online, changes the way 65 percent view a brand and—perhaps most importantly—inspires 53 percent to go out and buy a brand at retail.

“As people delete advertising from their lives, brands must remain visible and relevant,” Lagardère Plus chief strategy officer Jonathan Isaac told Adweek.

For that reason, London-based Lagardère Sports and Entertainment is the latest agency diving deeper into immersive projects. Today, it unveiled an experiential and partnership marketing agency called Lagardère Plus, complete with new strategic, creative, digital and analytics capabilities. The launch of Plus came after Lagardère’s acquisition of London-based agency Brave, which has developed tech-driven campaigns for Amazon Prime, Brown-Forman and Panasonic, among others.

“From sports, music and entertainment, to culinary and cause marketing, Lagardère Plus will help brands and properties get the attention they need in a distracted world,” said Lagardère Sports and Entertainment CEO Andrew Georgiou in a statement.

Isaac will help drive strategy for the new division, while Kern Egan was named president of the Americas.

“Brands really find their marketing is effective when they show people they care,” said Egan, while explaining why his agency has decided to invest more in interactive work.

The larger Lagardère organization’s global consulting businesses, consisting of akzio!, Zaechel International and Sponsorship 360, will also be repositioned under the Plus division. Its client roster already includes BMW, Citibank, Hyundai, Lacoste and MetLife.

But Lagardère isn’t the only network new to the world of experiential. WPP creative shop Berlin Cameron announced the launch of a similar offering last week, BCXP, and it already counts Capital One and ABC among its clients.

President Jennifer DaSilva said the development of BCXP “was driven by two forces”—the slowing “traditional” campaign spending coupled with a rising client demand for experiential work.

“We’re really excited we have the ability to do this. It’s a great opportunity from our standpoint and it just made sense,” said managing director Robin Potash, who will help lead BCXP alongside DaSilva.

This is nothing new to Momentum, which has produced experiential work since its 1996 founding and describes itself as “the total brand experience agency,” serving clients like American Express, Verizon, Mondelez and Xbox. In discussing the increasing popularity of such campaigns, CEO and chairman Chris Weil said, “we’ve seen this coming for awhile.”

“It’s about showing what the brand is doing, not what it’s saying,” he added. “That is the biggest difference with what we do than what traditional advertising does.”

Weil also warned that agencies in the early days of their experiential work may run into trouble translating concepts that sound good on paper into events and experiences that actually resonate with consumers, noting that Momentum relies on years of research to help make that distinction.

He suggested that agencies focus on presenting an authentic brand voice rather than jumping on any particular moment’s hottest trend.

Eventually, most shops will have to find their own ways to address these challenges as they move to compete in the ever-growing experiential landscape.

@kitten_mouse lindsay.rittenhouse@adweek.com Lindsay Rittenhouse is a staff writer at Adweek, where she specializes in covering the world of agencies and their clients.