2019’s Best Brand Activation Examples (+Why You Need to Follow Suit)

November 11, 2019

Customers want experiences. 

They don't want to be sold to or told what to buy. They long to have an emotional reaction when making a purchase decision.

Brand activation has become an integral part of modern marketing. It includes events and interactions that create strong emotional connections between a brand and an audience. This type of experiential marketing can be tricky to pull off. To offer you some inspiration, I'm sharing some of the best brand activation examples of 2019.

Why do you need brand activation?

Your brand is your culture. This means that your entire company shapes the emotional connection you are striving for with customers. Brand activation needs to be something that the whole company takes on—not just the marketing department.

In a competitive market, brand activation can offer ways to attract customers that your competitors do not. It's a chance to be unique and create a meaningful interaction. The more you connect with customers, the more likely they are to become loyal. And brand loyalty leads to customers becoming fans who may just become your online brand community champions.

There are many ways to build brand awareness, but brand activation generates an emotional attachment. Just being aware of your brand won't drive action to become a customer. Brand activation also allows you to create very specific positioning for your products or services.

Inspiring brand activation examples

Brand activation can take the form of anything from guerrilla marketing to immersive event marketing experiences, but there is a common thread throughout these brand activation examples: thinking outside the box. Use the following examples to encourage new advertising techniques at your business, whether your focus is B2C or B2B marketing.

2019 Adobe Summit

The Adobe Summit is described as a digital experience conference. It hosted over 16,000 attendees this year and offered quite the experience. As a software company, Adobe understands how important their tools are for other companies. They knew they needed to go big.

At the popular Sneaks session, engineers were accompanied by celebrities like Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon. Sneaks allowed the brand to showcase its newest innovations with some heavy hitters endorsing the product.

Bumble Hive

This year's South by Southwest didn't disappoint attendees. The enticing scents of breakfast burritos and coffee were in the air, and Bumble used them to attract visitors. Bumble, a relationship app, is based in Austin and took over a local coffee shop during SXSW. The pop up attracted over 20,000 guests.

The theme was introducing Bumble's new profile badges, which users can create based on their interests. The coffee shop turned Bumble Hive welcomed visitors with bright colors and an inviting atmosphere. The product was brought to life in this approach, offering visitors a memorable experience—one of many event marketing benefits.

Google Assistant Ride

CES (Consumer Electronics Show), the world's largest consumer technology show, is a rather crowded field with almost 200,000 attendees. Standing out is essential—even for one of the most well-known companies in the world, Google.

Google debuted the Google Assistant Ride at the 2019 CES. They built a roller coaster ride at the event, but it wasn't your typical ride. Riders experienced a day in the life of a fictional character and their Google Assistant, Google’s AI-powered voice assistant

The ride featured all the ways the character’s new assistant helped them get through the day. It was designed using animatronics rather than virtual reality, making the experience more authentic. The journey, complete with beautiful visuals (and a photo opp), was captivating. It was an imaginative way to convey the Google ecosystem to the individual user.

Skittles and the Broadway Musical

Skittles has been generating funny and compelling ads for some time, and when they purchased a Super Bowl slot in 2019, they wanted to create an ad that poked fun at that.

The commercial features actor Michael C. Hall and a full cast singing "advertising ruins everything" while enjoying some Skittles.

They did more than just showcase the ad during the Super Bowl. They created a behind-the-scenes music video and put the recording on Spotify. 

Then, they actually put on a performance called Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical, which sold out in 72 hours. The performance delivered over 1.5 billion media impressions for the brand.

Skittles is a brand that likes to have fun, and it shows in how they communicate with and engage their audience.

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Vans: House of Vans

House of Vans has locations in Brooklyn, Chicago, and London, but it also can pop up in any community. These event spaces are for skateboarders, allowing them to get together and share their passion.

On International Women's Day, Vans used the House of Vans to promote women in skateboarding. They hosted skate lessons, documentary screenings, and live music. It was a win for women and the brand.

Ikea Bath Boats Drive

Shopping at Ikea is already an experience, so Ikea’s brand activations are always creative. They recently opened a new sustainable store in Greenwich. To announce the opening, Ikea sent two actual boats made to look like their Smarkryp bath toy model into the River Thames. These boats collected plastic and rubbish from the waters.

With all the plastic, the brand created a sculpture to stand in the new store—a true upcycle. This event signified Ikea's passion for being kind to the environment. Any consumer that believes in being eco-friendly was certainly inspired by the Bath Boats Drive.

Desperados: Epic Parties

Who doesn't love an Epic party? Lovers of Desperados beer have been captivated by the brand's Epic Parties Imagined by You. One event, in particular, had the brand claiming to have launched the largest ever video light show. 

Attendees handed over their smartphones for a beer. Then, the phones were linked up and played synchronized animations. This experience for fans was enlightening and made attendees feel present, rather than focused on their phone (as many of us often are). Desperados showed their attendees that experiences can be even better without your phone.

Activate your brand

No matter what type of brand you are or who you serve, there are many opportunities to create brand activation campaigns. You have to understand your buyers very well to do it successfully because brand activation is all about their experience. Think about how you want your audience to feel and what's important to them. Then, tie that back to what your product or service does. This information will provide you with a foundation to create lasting experiences.

Take inspiration from these examples and elevate your brand marketing, then check out other ways to amplify your marketing strategy reach with over 50 free resources from G2. 

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