Moving beyond passé is a challenge in fashion, but experiential marketing may still have the cut-through required.

By definition, experiential marketing is about interactive displays and events, over-the-top installations, anything experience-related that gets people talking. In Brisbane for the launch of Topshop | Topman last December it was a double-decker bus drivin to iconic Brisbane locations to herald the arrival of the British brand to our city.

Big-budget food and beverage and entertainment companies take on large scale experiential marketing campaigns more readily than in fashion, but the key is only to disrupt the norm, not necessarily with a massive budget.

When Anna Wintour passed up models to put a celebrity on the cover of Vogue for the first time, it was a groundbreaking move.

“Anna saw the celebrity thing coming before anyone else did,” said Vogue fashion editor Grace Coddington famously.

Decades on, in a world where nothing, it seems, is really new, US Marie Claire made waves with its August issue cover, which featured an overlay that could be ‘unzipped’ with a perforated zipper pull, to reveal a second cover underneath. It’s a simple example, but creates a unique experience none the less.

Promoting the magazine’s denim issue, the masthead and text were embroidered on to denim and photographed for the innovative top cover image.

“In August, a lot of fashion magazines did denim issues, but when ours hit, it changed the conversation and created a different experience,” Marie Claire’s Nancy Cardone told The Business of Fashion.

“We are creating an experience for our readers that allows us to take advantage of the benefits of print so that when their Marie Claire issue comes in, they feel like it’s an interactive experience.”

Five of the best experiential marketing campaigns of recent years:

  • In 2011, clothing company Desigual held a party where people were asked to arrive in their underwear and a hundred people would do the same. If you were number 101 you’d be left out in the cold.
  • In 2010, a Coca-Cola ‘Happiness Machine’ took to the streets of Rio De Janeiro, dispensing free sunglasses, beach balls, surfboards, and plenty of Coke.
  • In 2007, 20th Century Fox brought The Simpsons into the real world, creating Kwik-E-Marts out of 7-Eleven stores across the US, complete with Buzz cola and Krusty-Os cereal.
  • TNT’s ‘Push to add drama’ button placed in a Belgian town square unleashed a blockbuster-worthy scene complete with ambulances, robberies and gunshots in an effort to promote the channel’s ‘daily dose of drama’. The subsequent footage went viral around the world.
  • Red Bull set a new world record in 2012 when Felix Baumgartner performed the world’s highest sky dive, from 24 miles above the earth, becoming one of the most talked-about events of the year.