What is Brand Activation?

Brand activation is an aspect of these industries where creativity gets raised to the next level. One of the biggest tasks that the marketing department of a business has is figuring out its target audience. Once you’ve put in all the effort necessary to find who you’re going to market to, you need to figure out how to reach them. Actually executing on that is harder than it might sound, but there are many tools at a marketer’s disposal to accomplish this goal.

In a world with tons of buzzwords, you can use for marketing, you might be tempted to think “brand activation” is one of them. But it plays a crucial role in many marketing campaigns. Brand activation is the method by which you generate interest and engagement in your brand. This can be achieved in several different ways, such as in-person events, experiences, or social interactions that spark an emotional connection between a brand and its target audience.

Here are a few examples of brand activation:

Experiential Marketing

When a brand really wants to make a splash, they typically have a team dedicated to their experiential marketing. This usually takes the form of an in-person, real-world event or experience that lets their target audience interact with the brand directly. One example of this happening in the real world is in 2014 when the Oreo cookie brand engaged in brand activation at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas. Festival-goers could customize their own Oreo cookie flavor based on topics that were trending in real-time and have a 3D printing machine actually create the cookie right in front of them. To see what this looked like, you can check out a brief video discussing the event here. This type of experiential marketing is extremely effective at generating buzz and attention for a brand, as tons of people will inevitably post about their experience on social media. This type of brand activation succeeds because it creates a lasting emotional response in the minds of those that participate in the experience. Oreo cookies might not be typically associated with technology like this, but the brand found a way to connect itself with a specific type of audience in a unique way that it couldn’t before.

Sampling Campaign

When introducing a new product, introducing a sampling campaign can be an extremely effective way to activate your brand. While you might think this means something as simple as giving out free samples in a store, there are very creative ways a brand can go about this. For example, in 2015 Coca-Cola wanted to introduce its Coke Zero drink to a larger audience. To do this, they launched a campaign on TV and radio broadcasts that played the sound of their drink being poured into a glass. Listeners were encouraged to open the Shazam app on their phones, which would detect the sound being played and display a video of a drink being poured to match the sound. At the end of the ad, those that participated received a coupon for a free Coke Zero that they could redeem. This campaign by Coca-Cola is a great example of a unique and creative twist on sampling.

Digital Experience

While brand activation often happens through in-person events and experiences, it doesn’t always have to be that way. Take, for example, Pepsi’s interactive campaign during the 2014 World Cup. To celebrate the biggest soccer event in the world, Pepsi released specially marked cans and bottles that featured some of the biggest star players in the sport. Users could then scan a code and interact with an Augmented Reality soccer game on their smartphones, as well as view other Pepsi branded content such as videos starring the same major World Cup athletes featured on the cans and bottles. This was an example of an almost entirely digital brand activation campaign that successfully connects the World Cup with the Pepsi brand.  

Brand activation can be a great way to generate buzz and excitement for a brand. It goes a long way in helping a brand authentically connect with a specific audience. If you’re interested in partnering with a team that can assist with your marketing campaign, look no further than TriSpark Media. Reach out to our team of talented advertisers and marketers who can work with you to help your business stand out among the rest.

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