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Brand activation in two worlds

In an age of permacrisis, brands find themselves at a crossroads. A state of ongoing disruption means the new normal is constantly shifting. The light at the end of the tunnel flickers. Events are still being postponed due to Covid-19 cases, roadshows cancelled as venues are repurposed to house Ukrainian refugees. With physical uncertainty, hybrid and virtual events have become industry standard.

Working in the brand activation space, we have seen the pivot to digital as brands learned how to adapt and operate virtually – and now the gradual return to physical activations in the first half of 2022. And it’s not just brands and agencies that have changed.

Consumer mindsets have been reshaped by the last two years. People have reconsidered priorities, recognised they own too much and focused on living a more balanced and sustainable life. With most activities now virtual, customers are rewired to think digital-first with more control over how they shop, work, get fit and consume entertainment.

Customer expectations have risen; but so too has the desire to escape from conference calls and re-engage with real-world experiences. In this new world order, compelling brand activations remain a powerful tool connecting brands and customers.

Brand come out to play

Many brands may be jumping into the metaverse, but after two years lived virtually people are looking for real life experiences that are tangible, sensory and stimulating. In the immediate future, we see a boom in “phygital” experiences that feature digital overlays onto the physical world rather than virtual universes.

Whether it’s a B2B event or a consumer popup installation, smart brands can fulfill the desire for a return to human connections and full-sensory experiences while adding an element of digital discovery to the physical space.

Data as a bridge between worlds

picoWith the ongoing move away from third party data and cookies, first party data is more important than ever. Especially data that is used to make experiences better, transforming it from what could be seen as invasive into something memorable and fun.

Data has always been key to connecting with audiences, but pre-Covid-19 events and activations weren’t always considered in brand data strategies. This will change as new digital layers make it easier for brands to track behavioural data, develop insights and close the loop in their communications strategies by developing a more sophisticated 360 view of the customer. This is a space Pico has invested in, building proprietary ExQ capabilities to better measure physical event effectiveness.

Looking forward – the Pico perspective

Over the last two years, the worlds of digital and physical have come closer together. Brand activations remain a powerful way of connecting with people and maximising value at every touchpoint.

While it’s still useful to think of activations as digital or physical from a planning point of view, customers only care about the quality and value of the brand experience, not where they had it. It’s not an endpoint, but just a single moment in the journey.

If you’d like to find out more about our perspective on brand activations or want to start a new conversation about yours, please feel free to get in touch - info.eu@pico.com