The XM Pivot: Evolving Experiences in Unpredictable Times

Ben Scott

Creative Director, MKTG

Whenever I hear the word pivot, I can’t help but think about the “Friends” episode where Ross is trying to move his new couch up a flight of stairs with the help of his friends, and he’s providing less than helpful direction. PIVOT! So imagine that voice in your head for the past five months. That’s been the sentiment in the experiential industry and marketing on a whole. How do we pivot in a time like this? How do we create solutions for our clients and still offer them the same quality of work that we’re known for in these unknown times?

The impact that Covid-19 has had on live events is undeniable. From shifting campaigns that were coming down the pipeline, to cancelling production schedules, and actually ending programs mid-run – everything live came to a halt in March. This forced the industry and brands to press pause, but also revaluate the landscape, and consider how we engage with consumers moving forward. 

Over the past few months we’ve had the chance to help clients create alternate solutions like virtual summits, enabling them to stay connected with their audience at home without sacrificing their brand promise and bottom line. These new challenges have been rewarding (and fun), however, as businesses reopen and restrictions around social distancing loosen, we have to evaluate the landscape, and more specifically the consumer mindset. Yes, after months of self-isolating, people want to get out again. But in the midst of a global pandemic, are they going to be as eager to stand in lines with crowds of people? Denstu’s internal data intelligence agency, Dentsu Data Labs (DDL), has been tracking ongoing changes in consumer behaviour throughout the pandemic. On a weekly basis, insights from across the country have been collected to better understand how Canadians are doing. DDL found that Canadians are craving those in-person and tactile experiences, but with reservations. So MKTG examined the landscape for responsible ways to help our clients and partners continue to build their brands and businesses, and reconnect with Canadians in person again.

Our approach was to go beyond the basics of what sanitation methods, additional training, and educational signage are required. We are all aware to keep our consumers safe that these measures are 100% needed and cannot be compromised. However, the return to in-person experiences runs much deeper than that, and deserves our time and knowledge to reflect on how we as experts guide our clients back to the world of live events. So as a team we broadened our thinking, and took a deep dive into what our consumers will be looking for in activations and events.

We outlined a list of 10 principles and solutions for experiential marketers and brands to consider as the plan their return to live experiences, which include: The Creative That Incites Participation, Essential Pre-Promotion & Communications, New Venues & Creative Choices, Leveraging Celebrity Appearances In New Ways, Digital Giveaways, and How Consumers Will Help Create The Experience.

The team at MKTG didn’t want to simply react to the pandemic, or chase new trends, but rather focus on new opportunities for our clients and help guide them into the future. We asked ourselves, how do we amplify and evolve tried and true live programs? How do we help already successful initiatives level up? As the DDL studies prove that Canadians are now moving into a “recover” mindset, it’s not a matter of if or when live events will return, but rather how we as brands show up.


Check out our Top 10 list for more details on these ideas and solutions. We’re excited to collaborate with our partners again, and excited to pivot with you!


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