What We Can Learn from the 2018 Ex Awards

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Target’s The Bullseye Lodge

The 2018 EX Awards were announced earlier this year. Even those who didn’t attend (like myself) can learn something from the winners of “the world’s largest recognition program for experiential marketing.” Reviewing some of these award-winning event marketers in more detail reminds us of some key essentials for experiential marketing success.

Let’s start first with the overall Grand Ex winner: The Marketing Arm agency for client State Farm with its Neighborhood of Good campaign. The agency for the largest auto insurer in the U.S. created a platform to help connect people with charitable opportunities in their towns. The campaign kicked off with a two-minute video, which was broadcast in 30- and 60-second clips on broadcast TV, encouraging people to “lift the weight of caring by doing” with a link to the website NeighborhoodofGood.com. The program also won the Best Cause/Community Program category.

Lesson learned: Stick to brand values for a more effective multichannel experience. As a Forrester Research analyst noted in AdAge, the strategy reinforced the insurance agency as “part of the fabric of the community,” but also willing “to make that fabric richer.”

PepsiCo’s agency Motive was the Ex Award Winner for Best Use of Events for Content with the Closer than Courtside campaign. As part of its 360-degree marketing campaign MTN DEW® KICKSTART™ invited Dew drinkers to be Kevin Hart’s new “CourtSidekick” at the NBA finals. The diminutive comedian and huge basketball fan kicked off the campaign with a funny video series:”Courtside Do’s and Dont’s with Kevin Hart.” Fans were then invited to enter the #CourtSidekickContest by creating a social post demonstrating why they’re the perfect NBA guest and tagging #CourtSidekickContest on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Lesson learned: This category title alone reflects the lesson learned — plan your event with a comprehensive content marketing strategy in mind.

Another award winner, Jack Morton Worldwide for CoverGirl gave us a great example of marketing to women with its Ex-winning Best Sports Activation. Rantin’ & Raven auditioned women to be one of their 15 game day sportscasters for a national football game. The campaign earned 7 million unique Facebook views and at least 421,000 organic YouTube views (at the time of its Clio submission video).

Lesson learned: Know your audience. As the agency’s video pointed out, nearly half of the NFL’s fans are women (69 million female fans). As a brand that focuses on inspiring women to succeed in underrepresented areas, CoverGirl also remained firmly linked to its target mission and audience.

Using influencers paid off for Amazon Studio agency Tool which won an Ex for its Battle Cars Live campaign. To promote the Studio’s gaming community, Twitch, the brand invited popular gaming personalities to blow up cars in an interactive Battleship-style live game event called “Battle Cars Live.”

Lesson learned: Although this one won for the live element, the lesson here is the power of influencers. Battle Cars Live was mainly promoted on Twitch itself, through social media and press outreach, but by engaging social personalities too the campaign enjoyed traction from influencers encouraging their followers to play in the days leading up to the event. The Best Buzz Marketing/Influence award, by the way, went to Taco Bell’s United Entertainment Group agency.

There are 24 categories of awards, so obviously I won’t rehash them all here. Let’s wrap up with an excellent example of creating a full-scale brand environment. Target’s The Bullseye Lodge, from agency Wasserman, claimed the Ex for Best Consumer Environment. Tapping into the interest in the Super Bowl, the brand turned its Target Plaza Commons space in Minneapolis into the Bullseye Lodge for the week leading up to the big game. Located across the street from brand headquarters, the Minnesota-inspired north woods theme lodge was open to the public and filled with activities, snacks, and fun.

Lesson learned: Make it fun! Visitors didn’t have to go to the Super Bowl to have fun playing jumbo bubble hockey or curling, showing off their best touchdown dance for the camera and watching it projected onto the lights display at the top of the Target Plaza building, or simply snacking on hot cocoa featuring their photos digitally printed onto a marshmallow!

About Jeff

I’m a color commentator trapped in the body of a marketing strategist. So, while the marketing guy consults; the color commentator writes these articles. You can connect with me on Linkedin.

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