The Key to Successful Event Activations

This is a guest post by Curtis Sparrer, principal at Bospar.

This is a guest post by Curtis Sparrer, principal at Bospar.

In today’s Apple world, in which every product launch becomes a spectacle, it is no longer enough to simply activate a brand, throw out some ads, and then step back and hope that consumers and media will take interest.

Hence, the “event activation.” If you can pull off an interesting event with lots of consumer and media interest, you don’t have to do a ton of work hunting down press to cover your new brand. If it’s successful, the media will come to you.

So, what are the ABCs of a successful event activation?

Let’s use a sort of case study. CrowdOptic is an augmented reality company which, back in 2013, partnered with L’Oreal. The event they put on was a huge success for both companies; here are some key takeaways:

Don’t go it alone

Look for ways to associate your new brand with an older, highly trusted brand and piggyback off of their customer base and reputation.

A lot of brands will try to lone-wolf their start, which gives them an immediate handicap. Think of what a difference there is between seeing an ad for a new product and having a trusted friend recommend it. The partnership with L’Oreal had a similar function.

CrowdOptic had a fascinating product with their augmented reality software, and L’Oreal recognized that. So, for the seventh annual Luminato Festival, they used CrowdOptic’s software to treat festival goers to a unique experience. This is the best kind of event activation relationship: L’Oreal aligned themselves with something flashy and technologically next-level, and CrowdOptic reaped the benefit of the association with a major brand.

Do something impressive, or don’t do it

Your event should be something that is actually exciting, not just a glorified press conference with someone clicking through a new product presentation. Especially with no preexisting brand awareness, it’s got to be big and interesting.

CrowdOptic’s idea for the Luminato Festival was just that: a virtual art exhibit. Using the event’s special app, attendees could point their phones around at the air, revealing virtual art pieces suspended in empty space—a delightful, otherworldly experience.

If your event is memorable, everyone in attendance will form a positive and lasting association with your brand.

Put your product in people’s hands

One of the things that made the Luminato Festival such a success for CrowdOptic was that it put the augmented reality directly in the hands of the people.

Imagine if they had just shown everyone a walk-through. Not nearly as impressive. People needed to know what it felt like to conjure up art out of thin air. Of course, the virtual art exhibit was a very small example of what CrowdOptic’s augmented technology can do, but the important thing is that all of the festival-goers got to have a personal interaction with it, which hopefully both delighted them and whetted their appetite  about the technology.

Likewise, whatever your product, your event should get people interacting with it—making it  a much more powerful and memorable experience than just having it explained to them.

Curtis_Sparrer_1Curtis Sparrer is a principal at Bospar. He was one of Business Insider’s “50 Best Public Relations People In The Tech Industry,” and has led PR campaigns for startups and big names including 1010data, Apigee, Ebates and PayPal.

You can find Curtis on Twitter and LinkedIn.