PR guru Charlie Boyce, founder of Portobello PR, tells Retail Beauty what it takes to make a brand experience one that stands out from the rest. 

WHEN SHOULD A BRAND HAVE AN EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING/PR ACTIVATION?

For our brands it has been any of the following:

1. When they want to drive hype around a new product SKU.

 2. Wanting to increase social traffic and followers/likes

3. A campaign launch

4.  They are just ready to activate with consumers face-to-face to tell their brand story and drive sales. It could also be a combination of all of these factors!

WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF  EXPERIENTIAL ACTIVATIONS?

One of our most recent activations include the Ecoya Drive Thru. We wanted consumers to be able to experience the brand’s Car Diffuser range first hand in a Covid-19 safe environment, while still giving them a face-to-face experience. We hosted a total takeover of a drive thru in Rose Bay, with full branding, promotional teams and a partnership with KIIS FM – allowing consumers the opportunity to select product, smell the range and understand more about the  brand. We were able to educate and engage with consumers from the comfort of their own car. It was the first, large activation for the brand since the Covid-19 pandemic. It was hugely rewarding to bring to life the one-day event, from initial concept to launch. (Images below.)

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE PR AGENCY FOR THE BRAND?

We work across all areas of communication. Our client scope of working can be anything from creating strategy, looking at the public perception of the brand, creating content, social media management to traditional aspects of product placement and news stories and events. We are here to navigate all areas of their comms and work as an extra arm to their marketing or ecommerce teams.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO PLAN THE LAUNCH/OPENING?

Planning can be anything from four weeks to nine months ! It all depends on the budgets that clients have locked in or if it’s been an idea we have pitched that they have pressed ‘go’ on quickly. Either way we always make sure we approach it in the same way – with tight planning and briefs, budgets , an abundance of enthusiasm and clear ongoing communication as we work across the activation. A real focus is really the end goal / ROI for the brand and awareness for the client.

HOW DO YOU SCOUT FOR A LOCATION?

It’s back to basics – we brainstorm internally and with some of our external creative partners as well as hitting the streets to look for hidden or unusual venues. We have additionally used a location scout if we are looking for a high traffic area with more speciality requirements.

HOW DO YOU SOURCE/SHOP FOR FIXTURES AND  SUPPLIES REQUIRED?

We work with an amazing production lady who assists us, depending on what we need for the activation. We start with the creative direction of the event and then work out where best to source what we need – it can range from custom builds to existing props that we hire.

HOW DO YOU COORDINATE THE EVENT LOGISTICS REQUIRED FOR THE ACTIVATION?

We stick a tight run-sheet and work with the venues and a production team to make sure everything plays out as it should. As a team, we have regular meetings on the event and how we are tracking and keep a live update for the clients’ in our documents so they are across it.

HOW DO YOU BOOK AND MANAGE EVENTS STAFF  ON THE DAY?

We have worked with companies such as Edge Models as director Gary Holmes has been excellent in understanding our briefs for talent. Without fail we always look at the brand ethos and who will be able to educate consumers well about the brand. We meet all talent via Zoom ( if we can’t meet them in person) to educate them about the product/brand and to ensure they understand our objectives for the day as well. We also look at what is needed and think about what agency or talent / additional staff are required for the day. We have a great team of external support staff we work with as well.

WHAT ARE USUALLY THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES  ON THE DAY?

WEATHER….and clearly Covid-19 this past year. We have done many a bump-in during rain, wind, flooding and worse.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO CONSIDER FOR THE EXECUTION OF THE ACTIVATION?

The end goal and what the client wants from this activation. Was it to gain social media traction, drive sales or a general brand awareness piece? We want to ensure that we are constantly remembering that and talking back to it in planning. Also ensuring their branding, messaging is portrayed in way they want. Lastly making sure any event is educational / fun and creates buzz.

HOW DO YOU GENERATE BUZZ/INTEREST FOR THE  EVENT/ACTIVATION?

Through media partnerships and collaborative partnerships with influencers. We also make sure we clearly pitch the event to media and potential guests. Social media posts and promotional targeting and advertising has always played a part outside of the traditional personal invite.

HOW DO YOU ANALYSE AND DETERMINE IF THE ACTIVATION SUCCEEDED OR NOT?

Did our sales increase or was our brand awareness / social following increased? More than anything was the client happy with the eyeballs reached and are they pleased that we delivered the result they wanted in the initial brief.

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