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A waddup world: the growing importance of events in marketing brands

A waddup world: the growing importance of events in marketing brands
Paul Simonet, Creative Strategy Director at Imagination, looks at how big events can help drive brand marketing in the wake of spectacular Bellwether figures

I am often regarded with amusement - sometimes disdain - by my colleagues, as any idea or problem sends me rushing to my dictionary. (I actually have a full 20 volume Oxford English dictionary on my shelves at home. They are my pride and joy.)

But my dictionary might help understand why the Bellwether statistics suggest an up-turn in the events sector and explain why events and experiences are more important to brands than ever before.

Let's go to the dictionary derivation...

From Latin ēventus a happening, from ēvenīre to come forth, happen, from venīre to come

So an ‘event’ is really ‘a happening’ and ‘happenings’ are more important to people than ever before.

The development of 24-hour global news, social status updates and tweets have made ‘what’s happening’ of an intense interest to everybody, all the time.

Go to any public place you like and look around. Everyone who is not actively talking to another person is on their personal mobile device either finding out ‘what’s happening?’ or letting someone else know.

My 22-year-old daughter Eve, raised in leafy Kent, often texts me from University one single word in her mock urban slang ‘wadduuuuupppp?’

It’s the thing we all want to know.

So that’s why events matter to marketing, because they matter to people.

But more importantly brands that are making things happen, for good or ill, really matter to people.

As Ty Montague points out in his HBR article ‘Good companies are storytellers. Great companies are storydoers’ and Joe Pine echoes this in his excellent The Experience Economy ‘The experience is the marketing’.

In a ‘waddup world’, what you are doing really matters. And brands who are making things happen matter most of all. The best brands have moved past the passive sponsorship of experiences to the creation of their own ‘happenings’.

The globally awarded Coca Cola ‘Happiness’ link-up between India and Pakistan is perhaps the most famous example of a brand making things happen. (Yes ‘happening is derived from the same root as happy).

My 17-year-old is beside herself with anticipation at her upcoming five days at the V festival. My eldest daughter, who works at VCCP, was telling me of a nursery where parents are asked to keep a Baby Oleg diary for the Meerkat toy they have been given to foster mutual attachment. The reason I have no story about my son Luke is because I can’t get him out of his Xbox world long enough to communicate.

On an even more personal note on Sunday I went for a jog in my orange We South t-shirt I wore in 2006 when I did Nike’s Run London.

We South won with an average time of 56 minutes and nine seconds. The average time for the North was 56 minutes and 26 seconds. I am still ‘happy’ about that.

So it seems to me increasingly clear, not just from the Bellwether data, that if you want to be a brand that gets engagement, creates emotion and builds personal memories, you better start making things happen.

Paul Simonet is Creative Strategy Director at Imagination. Find out more about the Q1 2014 Bellwether Report results.

Last updated 17/04/2014

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