Brand Experience in 2022:

A Year in Review

From Zaine Venter, Director of Brand Experience

The certainty of uncertainty

I think it’s fair to say that 2022 represented a number of ups and downs from the perspective of brand experience. As we entered the new year, we were still in the grips of COVID-19, being told to stay at home or social distance; unable to see or spend time with our loved ones or enjoy the experiences we love the most. And to add insult to injury, it was the 2nd year in a row where Christmas festivities were disrupted.

I won’t exaggerate when I say that the outlook for the rest of the year was looking bleak from the start. Not exactly how you want to kick-off!

As you might expect, this general anxiety created uncertainty in the markets across the board, leading to hesitation from many retailers and brands to commit to large-scale experiential marketing campaigns.

In response, we undertook numerous contingency planning and considerations for 2022 to ensure all cancellation procedures were in place and water tight!

I think the picture I’m trying to paint of 12 months ago is one of challenge and adversity – a far cry from where we find ourselves today…

A ray of sunshine

Once we saw out the dark winter months – the ice started the thaw and the days got longer – green shoots of activity started to push through wherever you looked, resulting in an avalanche of opportunities!

With lockdown seeming like a thing of the past, optimism was back across the industry.

We had live sporting events taking place at full capacity and outdoor activities like festivals going ahead as scheduled with zero disruptions. At iD, along with our brand partners, we couldn’t help but notice a pure desire from people wanting to go out and experience normal life again – to engage with new experiences and find joy in the unexpected.

This was the catalyst for our industry, leading to what I’m proud to say was one of the most enjoyable, stressful, rewarding (and not to mention very hot!) summers of our history.

Throughout the course of the year, it was interesting to see virtual events – something that had become a pillar of brand/customer interaction over the last 2 years – being side-lined for live experiences once again. You only need to look at the rate at which festival tickets were selling out to understand how much live interactions were being missed by audiences.

Take Glastonbury as a chief example:

• 2017 – tickets sold out in 50 minutes
• 2019 – tickets sold out in 36 minutes
• 2020 – tickets sold out in 33 minutes
• 2022 – tickets sold out in just over 20 MINTUES!

I bring these stats up not to demonstrate that virtual and hybrid experiences are over – nothing could be further from the truth – but to show that the craving for the real, for audiences to share a physical space and experience something different, is never going to go away. I feel confident in predicting more of the same in 2023.

Some great research by Viberate on festival activity helps to reinforce this idea. Their data shows that predominantly larger festivals expected to grow their attendance through 2022, with over 20% expecting to grow by between 25-100% – remarkable numbers when you consider where we were 18 months ago. So why can’t the same be true for this year?

Step in, iD Brand Experience

iD executed over 30 campaigns during the summer. We helped our brand partners reach over 15 million people either directly through a live brand experience or indirectly through the opportunity to see an activation in prime experiential locations around the country. Whether on high streets, in shopping centres and exhibition halls or at popular music and food festivals; from London to Aberdeen to Cardiff, we were there.

We celebrated Walls’ 100th birthday on Brighton beach, broke a Guinness World Record, and once again proved that Pepsi Max is the UK’s best tasting cola – all within the space of a few months!

This just highlights that as social beings, we thrive in face-to-face interactions, and we want to feel part of the live experience rather than passively experiencing it from afar. We want to be part of the action. We want to reject that feeling of FOMO. These are the lessons of 2022 that we need to take into this year…

2023 promises to be much of the same. So, if you’re thinking of activating an experiential campaign or tactical pop-up for your brand get in touch! We’d be delighted to work with you to deliver a truly memorable experience for you and your audience.