A mouthful of a title, but true all the same. I pose a question in the title that I think people are only asking after they have cultured the experience. The quickest and easiest example I have has evolved as a trend during the pandemic (and is most likely going to stay): QR code menus in restaurants. Some may love the experience, some may hate it and bemoan a physical menu forever. But I would pose the question- are there better ways of creating an experience than a QR code on a piece of paper on the table? In general, I’ve found with the new QR menus, not only are we navigating through shoddy website UX, but we all sit separately with our heads down while zooming in and out, taking us out of the social environment we had cultured for ourselves by dining out. I’ve had several restaurants overcome this effectively, including putting menus on restaurant walls, TV signage, or my favorite– keeping the menus under the glass at our tables. I personally think all of these create a better communal experience, instead of putting space between the customers.
To put my question in better perspective, I’d like to present two different brand activations– one with QR codes and one without. Then you tell me your perspective and put it in the comments.
Back in August, Sephora unveiled a brand activation that relied on “low-touch event strategies that still provide that coveted high-impact experience” in the face of COVID. As a collaboration with Kohl’s and to welcome their 300-store-strong partnership, they released a limited two-day event in the form of a QR-interactive maze. See a glimpse below. The maze featured “gamification elements that incentivized attendees to find the eight brand and product touchpoints, scan and “collect” the QR codes, then redeem them for spin-the-wheel prizes in the store” (Shapiro). They surveyed 700 people, and was able to surmise, “49% of respondents wanting the option to navigate events from their mobile device” (Shapiro). I’m a buyer from Sephora, and would have agree with the statement ” I want to navigate events from my mobile device” but I’m not sure that a maze would have been the right media to make me buy more makeup. Mazes are more suitable for October, with higher stakes to make it more fun. Do you think they would could have brought customers to Kohl’s in a different way?
A wildly different example, set in the same vein of experiential marketing, in early September FX created a two-day “Room to Bloom” installation based on the politically (and emotionally) changed drama Impeachment: American Crime Story. For the quick installment, the marketing team worked to evoke emotion through collective creation. FX executives explained how each person was tasked, through a series of prompts, to work through obstacles or mindsets that have been holding them back on a card. Each card was then shredded and replaced with an uplifting card specially created by the author as “seed cards [which] contained messages about growth and could actually be planted to produce wildflowers” (Rejent). This event was possible as the creators “prioritized creating an event with an outdoor setting that connected with the themes of our creative.” This event was created to evoke emotions, and was successful in doing so as “the reactions we received, we felt that was definitely accomplished. From tears of joy and relief to hugs, celebratory clapping and high fives, we saw how important this opportunity was for people” (Rejent). The act of collective creation and destruction is cathartic, and I think brings more value to an experience without creating a maze and a million phone-checks. Instead, isn’t something that we can all contribute to and take something away from more valuable than a showcase?
Which side are you on? Team #QR or #NoQR? Or is it merely a case of acting creatively and intuitively? Will a survey of 700 people really give all the answers?
Rejent, Kendall. “How FX’s Unique Activation Turned Personal Obstacles Into Wildflowers.” BizBash, BizBash Media, Inc, 24 Sept. 2021, https://www.bizbash.com/production-strategy/experiential-marketing-activations-sponsorships/article/21735091/how-fxs-unique-activation-turned-personal-obstacles-into-wildflowers.
Shapiro, Courtney. “Inside Sephora’s Mobile-First Outdoor Beauty Maze.” Bizbash, Bizbash Media, Inc, 22 Sept. 2021, https://www.bizbash.com/production-strategy/experiential-marketing-activations-sponsorships/media-gallery/21734873/inside-sephoras-mobilefirst-outdoor-beauty-maze.
Top Image: Briana Stelzer
Image: Shapiro, Courtney. “Inside Sephora’s Mobile-First Outdoor Beauty Maze.” Bizbash, Bizbash Media, Inc, 22 Sept. 2021, https://www.bizbash.com/production-strategy/experiential-marketing-activations-sponsorships/media-gallery/21734873/inside-sephoras-mobilefirst-outdoor-beauty-maze.
Image: Rejent, Kendall. “How FX’s Unique Activation Turned Personal Obstacles Into Wildflowers.” BizBash, BizBash Media, Inc, 24 Sept. 2021, https://www.bizbash.com/production-strategy/experiential-marketing-activations-sponsorships/article/21735091/how-fxs-unique-activation-turned-personal-obstacles-into-wildflowers.