Unlike the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the real question in marketing is not the meaning of life; but rather: "Does experiential marketing work?" While little verifiable research has been done in South Africa to determine the answer to this question; there are clear indicators that all say: Yes, it certainly does!
Leaders in below-the-line student marketing and activations, Isilumko Media, powered by Studentwise, set out to determine the effectiveness of the Blue Ice (variant Pure Ice) "Pit Stop" campaign in which students participated in a push-cart race. An icy deodorant pit-stop was used to freshen up and test the lasting power of the 48-hour deodorant brand. The campaign exposed a total of 42,100 students to the brand at six universities across the country; distributing in excess of 13,000 samples.
Dipstick research conducted six months after the initial activation saw 451 students at WITS University interviewed to gauge retention and recall levels of the campaign. The questions posed aimed to determine whether the students present on the day of the activation remembered the event and were able to identify the logo and recall the brand and type of product promoted and if they could describe the event as they remembered it. 73% of those students who were on campus the day of the race recall the event. 71% recall the logo and 69% could name the brand "Blue Ice" correctly. 70% could recall the type of product, i.e. deodorant or roll-on.
Students' memories of the event vary from participation in the actual race, to being a spectator, to receiving giveaways, to having had an interaction with a promoter - thus clearly indicating that the activation was memorable and relevant to the Wits student market.
The buzz of the race days around campus which created a direct connection between the event and the product are cited by client service manager, Nick Lowe, as major contributors to the high level of recall. "Determining actual purchase of the product would be clouded by too many variables to be able to clearly establish the success of this particular campaign, therefore brand awareness and retention remained foremost indicators of the success of this experiential activation."
General Manager Brendan Powell says: "All the aspects of an experiential campaign that give the sensory, mind-blowing experience lead to greater brand memorability. By capitalising on the unique aspects of the brand as the basis for the experience, it is ensured that the connection is not an abstract one that would fail to drive home the brands' values and benefits.
"The informal research conducted for Blue Ice Pure Ice is an excellent indicator of the success of this campus campaign and definitely lends a positive evaluation of the overall effectiveness of experiential marketing within the student market."