The Future of Post-Pandemic Event Advertising

Three futurists describe what live event advertising will look like after COVID-19.

Since disease experts recognized COVID-19 posed a real threat, few industries have taken a harder hit than those in the business of live events. Physical distancing requirements that drove the shutdown of stadiums and arenas also sent those in media, advertising, and PR scrabbling to change strategies to reach fans and audiences suddenly stuck at home.

Coronavirus has fundamentally reshaped visual marketing by accelerating changes—namely marketing’s momentum toward digital—that were already in motion. Whether in-person events come back fast or slow, some of these changes will be permanent. Some tried-and-true methods will return while others in the attention-grabbing business will continue to find new ways to motivate and engage consumers.

Here, three marketing insiders share their takes on the future when live sports and entertainment emerge onto a new stage.

TAKE 1: Unique, outdoor events centered around what really matters will thrive.

Says Patrick West, CEO and Founder at Be The Machine experiential marketing shop.

West believes eye-catching 3D objects and outdoor dining areas will attract consumers.

“The science of COVID data makes it essential to engage with people outside. Activations should embrace the safety that being outside has to offer. This means a lot of temporary structures and displays that are modular and adaptable to different settings.

“The creation and placement of unique installations is a way to combine the impressions-driven power of OOH media with the high-impact nature of experiential marketing. This may include an eye-catching graffiti mural or a massive 3D object acting as a selfie hot spot. Let the people engage in the message by placing it at key lifestyle locations.

“Brands that recognize the mindset of consumers right now are succeeding. Consumers want smart and helpful engagements relevant to their lives right now. Examples include touchless technology integrated into a promotional display, new outdoor dining settings, or a series of sponsored grassroots community programs.”

TAKE 2: Activations will be smaller & more exclusive with safety components.

Says the leadership team at EventPermits™ and OP/ex Group.

Live audiences will feel more comfortable engaging with safe activations, says Cardin Cone.

“We believe that virtual components will remain well into 2022. Creative approaches that actually capitalize on social distancing are permeating throughout almost every pitch concept sent our way,” says Stella Fitzpatrick, Founder and President of EventPermits.

Partner at EventPermits, Tom Hennigan, claims, “The idea of VIP has taken on a whole new meaning. We are now tasked with creating once-in-a-lifetime, limited, and exclusive events that create a captivating narrative.”

“Though event safety is always a priority, this last year has given a whole new meaning to how important it is to stay safe and protect our consumers while delivering engaging contactless or minimal touch solutions to our brand and agency clients. Simple shifts such as QR codes, allow target audiences to feel comfortable in engaging with activations,” says Cardin Cone and David Arnold, partners at EventPermits’ OP/ex Group.

TAKE 3: Contactless experiences aren’t going anywhere.

Says Brian Esposito, Vice President of Partnerships at Spectra.

Esposito sees venues investing more in minimal touch fixtures and sinks to make people feel more at ease.

“I think that you’ll see more processes and procedures put in place to make the experience more comfortable in this new post-COVID world, which will be driven by consumer demand, including contactless engagements from beginning to end of live events.

“Contactless parking reservations and payment with parking staff through venue parking apps. Contactless ticketing is something that we’d already been seeing for many years, but it’s now more accelerated in smaller, non-major market venues.

“Contactless concessions with in-venue apps or texting platforms which allows you to order, pay on your phone, and pick up, or even have it delivered to your seats. As well as contactless fixtures and sinks in bathrooms.”

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