Marketing technology is advancing at a rapid rate allowing brands to offer incredible experiences to their customers, so it may be surprising to see that many brands are pivoting back to simpler activations.
Latest research suggests that evoking nostalgia and using activities and items that are usually associated with childhood memories of ‘playing’ really resonates with consumers. Baking, Lego and sleepovers are some of the few playification activities being utilised for marketing purposes.
Recent studies have shown that we’re more likely spend money when we're feeling nostalgic. "We wondered why nostalgia is so commonplace in marketing. One reason could be that feeling nostalgic weakens a person's desire for money” (Journal of Consumer Research).
Activities that could be deemed simple in terms of execution are finding themselves on the front page of experiential marketing news. Sleepover experiences have become one of the go-to experiences used by brands. From Hamleys, to Harry Potter World and the Natural History Museum; there aren’t many places you can’t stay the night. Nearly 100,000 people signed up the Facebook group called “I wanna have a sleepover in IKEA” – and IKEA followed through. 100 people from the group were chosen to attend the event which saw guests receiving goodie bags containing a range of things needed for the ultimate sleepover.
Combining childhood toys with adult activities is also something that is becoming more prevalent in the experiential marketing field. The evolution of Lego from a favourite children’s toy to an enticing activity for adults shows how the brand has marketed themselves as something to be enjoyed by people of all ages. Building on this age-transcending success has led to Lego themed pop-ups and experiences. Brick Bar is opening for business for a short time in Summer 2019 – one million Lego bricks were used to build the pop-up bar. Visitors can eat, drink and build Lego during their 90-minute stay. A ping pong table made of 22,500 bricks is also available, and Lego themed food is also on offer.
Escape rooms have well and truly taken over the activities sector. Brands are latching onto this trend and using the novelty experience to market their own products. The SXSW festival is known for its elaborate and innovate marketing events, and in recent years escape rooms have become popular go-to. HBO hosted the multi-room installation ‘The Escape’ to promote Game of Thrones, Veep, and Silicon Valley, Disney launched a Rogue One: A Star Wars Story escape experience and Fox also had their own Prison Break themed installation.
In Toronto, a fully immersive art installation inspired by 90s nostalgia encourages people to take a break from being an adult. Aptly named HideSeek, the pop-up wants visitors to ‘hide’ from adulthood and ‘seek’ what piques their curiosity. The 7,000 sq. ft. pop-up is split into 12 floor-to-ceiling installation rooms with different themes designed to activate all the senses. “Bubble Trouble,” “Pool Paradise,” and “Nighttime Nook” are just some of the immersive installations on offer at this pop-up which offer the opportunity to jump into a ball pit, look the glow in the dark stars and get lost in a maze of pool noodles.
These experiences prove that sometimes simple concepts work the most effectively. Drawing inspiration from universally enjoyed activities associated with childlike fun highlights how many of these experiences rely on nostalgia for the success of their events.