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Activation is a powerful practice used by companies to determine how they are positioned in the minds of the intended audience. This brand strategy draws upon the creative to cast a certain image or memory related to the company. Sponsorship activation campaigns have been finding creative ways to incorporate technology to further engage consumers. The memories consumers create from these campaigns boost the decision making in the buying cycle. Today, post event engagement is just as important, if not more crucial, to the success of the brand. Engagement after the event is what creates brand affinity and user generated content that is often shared to their friends and family. Companies consistently waste great sponsorship opportunities, but there are certain examples of activations that rose above the rest and created a bond between consumer and the brand.

1. Fight for Territory

An activation that was just as exciting and rare as the Lions Rugby Tour in New Zealand engaged fans to make the once every 12 years event more memorable. During this tour, the All Blacks sponsor, Steinlager, found fans and teams spending the most time in the airport. Steinlager bought every sign in every terminal and created an interactive competition with the Lion’s sponsor, Guinness. The Lion’s could have the signs for free, they just had to fight for them.
Fans stood in front of one of the 65 interactive digital screens and changed the messaging of the screen according to the team they supported. Thanks to bespoke image recognition software and mobile WAP technology, sports fans were putting up a fierce fight to alter every sign across terminals. The battle between fans throughout the 6-week tour saw 2.5 million people pass through the airport and resulted in 96,000 screen changes


Photo Credit: The Outdoor Advert titled Fight for Territory by DDB Auckland advertising agency for Lion in New Zealand, released Feb 2018.

2. 60th GRAMMY’s “Play the City”

Musicians, from Frank Sinatra to Jay Z, have used NYC as their muse to create legendary work. The GRAMMY’s return to New York City for its 60th anniversary wanted to share the soul and inspiration drawn from the city with everyday people from the back of an Uber.

Inside an Uber was computer vision software, multiple cameras, and an augmented reality screen to play NYC like an instrument. The software detected people and objects outside the window that triggered different sounds and animations to create an ode of NYC along each route. Each rider saw an original song being composed before their eyes and was then given the piece as a reminder of the experience.


PPhoto Credit: The Recording Academy Play the City by TBWA\Chiat\Day advertising agency for The GRAMMY’S, released Jan 2018

Photo Credit: The Recording Academy Play the City by TBWA\Chiat\Day advertising agency for The GRAMMY’S, released Jan 2018

3. Intel Drone Light Show at Winter Olympics 2018

Activation allows firms to bring more attention to their brand in more creative ways that allows the brand to transform in the eyes of its consumers. The activation campaign doesn’t always need to directly link to the firm’s primary functions, and allows consumers to develop a more romanticized, imaginative vision of the company outside of its functional view. Intel transformed from a company known for microprocessors to a company remembered for its dazzling, world record breaking drone light show at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The drones lit up the opening ceremony and the response around the world was unforgettable. Over 12 billion media impressions in under 12 hours and trending #1 on the internet launched Intel in the eyes and memories of the world.

Photo Credit: The Recording Academy Play the City by TBWA\Chiat\Day advertising agency for The GRAMMY’S, released Jan 2018

Photo Credit: Intel and AutoEvolution, released Feb 2018

4. Nike React- “Nike React Game of Go”

To launch new Nike Epic React running shoes a real-life video game was created to give those a chance to experience the shoe in an unforgettable way. Players’ motions were tracked on giant treadmills as they ran through a 400 meter virtual race that was displayed in real time on billboards in downtown L.A. This game provided a full immersion into the game and Nike’s new product. The 3 day activation and game bolstered Nike’s brand experience that resulted in 1.5 million out of home impressions, 4.4 million TV impressions through the use of the challenge on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, and 25.6 million digital impressions through Snapchat’s feature of the AR game.

Photo Credit: Nike Go by Widen+Kennedy, released Apr 2018

Photo Credit: Nike Go by Widen+Kennedy, released Apr 2018

5. Daniel Wellington Instagram Campaign

Daniel Wellington was just a startup company valued at $15,000 less than five years ago, and today it is one of the hottest brands in the world. This transformation is due to its influencer marketing strategy and user generated content to develop a favorable brand identity.

The Instagram campaign has generated over 800K photos and videos, an increase of 1.2M Instagram followers, and a 214% increase in profits within one year.


Photo Credit: Mediakix and Kendall Jenner, released May 2018

Photo Credit: Mediakix and Kendall Jenner, released May 2018

6. Everlight Underwear Money Hiding in Plain Sight

Fruit of the Loom’s new line of underpants are comfortable and lightweight, so much that people won’t realize they’re wearing underpants at all just as people don’t recognize advertisements anymore. Fruit of the Loom’s engagement marketing strategy revolves around this idea and has hid thousands of dollars of cash and underwear in relatively plain sight around New York City.

In a city of nearly nine million, only six people so far have noticed the underwear and cash. Fruit of the Loom has expanded this campaign to other prizes waiting to be found through classified ads, banner ads, social media posts, and more.


Photo Credit: Fruit of the Loom Everlight by CP+B, released June 2018

Photo Credit: Fruit of the Loom Everlight by CP+B, released June 2018

7. Wendy’s Twitter

Fast-food chains are constantly in fierce competition for market share and lowest prices while still making the greatest profit. With similar business strategies, these major chains often struggle to differentiate themselves. Wendy’s turned to a form of engagement marketing by leveraging the social media platform Twitter to garner greater attention and direct conversation from Twitter’s 336 million users.

Wendy’s Twitter page has made news headlines and won the approvals of many through its comical roasts of its competitors, most notably McDonald’s, and those who tweet them. The positive buzz surrounding its Twitter campaign has translated to the business successes of passing Burger King to become the number 3 U.S fast food chain, collecting a 4% share of the $247 billion U.S market, and its 22nd straight quarter of comparable-restaurant increases.

Photo Credit: Wendy’s Twitter, released Feb & Nov 2017

Photo Credit: Wendy’s Twitter, released Feb & Nov 2017

8. The Mirror

The Mirror was created to capture and create a looping video of fans creatively striking a pose. The video is then saved in a gallery and available for the fan to share it on any major social media platform they want. The video contains a branded frame which is then seen by the consumer’s many friends and followers on their social networks. The Mirror allows brands to obtain information about the consumer that participated in the event, as well as have their logo spread across social media by the consumer. This can lead to innumerable impressions on varying platforms.

Photo Credit: Huggity, released Feb 2017

Photo Credit: Huggity, released Feb 2017

“Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced” – John Keats

These activations each have created memories for millions, and most importantly have made their brand real in the eye of the consumer. It is no coincidence that these marketing campaigns all have all been highly reviewed, awarded, and have engaged audiences in interactive methods. These successes clearly indicate the future of marketing is #experiential.