We recently wrote about the value of experiential marketing. We made the case that brand experiences tie directly to revenue and the customer lifetime value. (All true.)

However, there’s something that brand experiences generate in which you can’t necessarily put a number to – but is just as important.


Our challenge is to design creative experience journeys that evoke emotion. But how do you measure that?

“I go with the tingle factor,” said P&G’s Chief Marketing Officer Marc Pritchard, according to this article in Campaign.

“We don’t measure creativity, you feel it. The more we measured it the worse it got; we focus on the outcomes of creativity,” said Pritchard.

We have a checklist of questions we review when designing an experiential marketing campaign. One is, ‘what emotion are we trying evoke?’ It’s one of the early bricks in our foundation. All brainstorming stems from that core emotional response we’re eliciting.

The emotional objective is determined in part by the inherent emotions already woven into the brand’s fabric. Likewise, we consider the unique situation, the message, the campaign’s purpose. It is helpful to understand how the target audience responds to new experiences.

It’s no secret that emotions are powerful.

As advertisers, we know that consumers rely on emotions to make brand choices. Research shows that it’s the emotional response one has to an ad, not its content, that more greatly influences them. In fact, according to The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), ads that only had an emotional appeal performed almost twice as well as ads with rational content.

Emotions impact us differently than facts do. Emotions go deeper, and we remember them longer.

emotions in advertising

When we think about brand experiences, we often think about producing positive, happy, feel-good emotions. And for most cases, that is true.

Happiness isn’t the only emotion we play with, though.

In working with No Kid Hungry, we use shock and anger to convey how prevalent childhood hunger is in our own communities. By pulling on the heartstrings in this way, we turn passersby into activists.

The FOREO activation at CES relied on fear and confusion. Appreciation and sentiment were achieved with the Whirlpool installation, thanking moms and dads. Many of the brand activations we feature leverage awe, surprise and wonder.

One benefit of experiential marketing is its ability to create multiple content touch points. It can extend beyond the experience, itself. Samsung’s Hearing Hands campaign was a well-orchestrated experience for one. Yet, video content amplified its reach. The experience struck such an emotional chord, viewers of the video weeks, months, years after the fact still empathize with Muharrem. (And after dozens of views, I still can’t watch this one without a tear in my eye!)

Some may call us experience architects. But emotion in experiential marketing is so key, that I would call us emotion makers.

virtual reality

Brand experiences are designed to evoke emotion through their immersive nature. Whether it’s a physical or virtual reality a consumer is experiencing, they’re ‘in it’ with you. This type of advertising elicits a real human reaction to the interactive engagement. When tied to your brand, this is a stronghold other advertising cannot achieve.

Science supports the idea that when someone is engaged in an activity that stimulates multiple senses, the emotional connection is elevated. The emotional memories a brand creates lead to better understanding and recall.

Even though there are more than one emotion we can stir, pleasure is still a main consideration. To be effective, the brand experience has to elicit emotions in a way that are still favorable to a consumer journey. Sure, scare him to goosebumps – but make it playful.

Think about the month of October. It’s filled with frightening movies and terrifying haunted houses. Yet, these things are still very enjoyable.

Some of the best brand experiences involve strong storytelling (or story doing). By placing a participant into the heroine role of your tale, she’ll feel more emotionally connected to what’s happening. And throughout the succession of the story arc, you can move her through a range of emotions, including suspense.

Experiential storytelling triggers an emotional response with more meaningful impact than print, digital or even video. We’re involving the audience through doing. And that’s one powerful way to create a branded memory.

While we rely on research to guide our decisions, our experience development doesn’t stop there. We’re still applying a little magic to our creativity. If an idea doesn’t get us feeling the way it should, we scrap it and start over.

If at the end of an experiential marketing campaign, we’ve produced the emotional reactions we wanted to…we call it a success.

Tingle factor? Check.

If you’re ready to produce an emotional (and yet still measurable) experiential marketing campaign, feel us out here.