5 brands harnessing sensory marketing with in-person experiential

We explore a raft of brands that are bringing new levels of immersive experience into their latest experiential activations

As consumers and the market continues its quest to recover from the pandemic and return to in-person engagement, brands are lining up to build their own immersive live experiences and activations. And the more sensory, the better.

From wellness month to encouraging product trials, sensory experiences are all about evoking a more holistic way of indulging in a brand story.

In this latest round-up, CMO dives into five examples of brands that have embraced the sensory and emotive as part of their latest experiential activations and what brand values and attributes are behind them.

Hendrick’s Gin and a journey most unusual

Hendrick’s Gin is opening its first-ever immersive performance experience in August designed to help consumers discover the gin’s taste and heritage.

The new theatrical experience has been crafted in partnership with theatrical collective, Broad Encounters, and takes over the Hotel Palisade in Sydney from 25-28 August. ‘A most unusual journey’ will take participants through an immersive performance designed to tap into all senses, from smell to touch, sight and sound. It does this by giving guests an interactive role in the performance as they move through six designed spaces, guided by characters such as scent seller, Mr Foggerty, aromachologist, Madame Ruby, ad underworld temptress, Siren.

Credit: Hendrick's Gin

The experience introduces consumers to these worlds through song, art, dance, music and specially curated Hendrick’s Gin cocktails. The creative theme ties into key brand motifs such as being bold, unusual, innovative and audacious.

“This most peculiar of immersive experience allows us to bring the world of Hendrick’s Gin to life. We will lift the veil and invite the curious crowd to uncover the unusual origin story in a way that has never been done before,” Hendrick’s Gin marketing manager, Nathan James, said.

“The Hendrick’s Gin’s story perfectly embodies that adage ‘fortune favours the bold’, and in this new experience we invite audiences to fortify themselves with that same boldness and take a most unusual journey with us. Guests will be given the opportunity to sample our delectable cocktails as they unlock their senses and meet key characters that embody our story."

A Journey Most Unusual tickets are available for $50, with all proceeds donated to Broad Encounters via Australian Cultural Fund.

The Body Shop encourages deep sleep

The Body Shop is also looking to drive sensory connection with consumers and is launching its first ‘Sleep Deep Experience’ in partnership with Australian sleep expert, Olivia Arezzolo, and designer hotel group, Ovolo.

The experience was prompted by research showing one-third of Australians only sleep up to six hours a night. This is despite billions being invested in sleep enhancements over the past two years. The State of Sleep survey, conducted by The Body Shop, also revealed 28 per cent of respondents don’t have a consistent sleep routine.

Credit: The Body Shop

The ‘Sleep Deep Experience’ centres around a stay at Ovolo Woolloomooloo, available from 11-14 August. Designed in collaboration with Olivia with the aim of improving sleep habits, it features The Body Shop’s new four-step sleep routine, which the European Sleep Center has endorsed as helping consumers to sleep better and wake more energised.

Other highlights include a one-to-one sleep consultation with Olivia, a sleep-inducing sound-bath meditation by Sydney-based Field of Sound and a sleep-enhancing dinner designed in partnership with Olivia and Ovolo’s chefs. In addition, the room will be optimised for sleep, with a lock box for electronics plus blue-light free bulbs to block blue rays and soft furnishings in calming blue hues.

“The European Sleep Centre has identified a link between a good quality night’s sleep and the benefits it has on our skin health. At The Body Shop, we know that prioritising your mind and body is a rebellious act of self-care, and a body and mind in balance can take on the world,” said The Body Shop APAC brand and activism director, Shannon Chrisp.  “The new Sleep Deep Experience is encouraging all Australians to think more about their sleep routine and take a moment for themselves.”

Ovolo has also partnered on ‘The Wellness Package’, a luxury room offer for guests aimed at helping them feel more relaxed, refreshed and rejuvenated in celebration of wellness month. It’s available from 1-31 August at Ovolo Woolloomooloo (Sydney), Ovolo South Yarra (Melbourne), Ovolo The Valley (Brisbane) and Ovolo Nishi (Canberra), the Wellness Package includes an exclusive Body Shop ‘sleep deep’ pack, T2 sleep tea sachets and sleep tips.

Penfolds ventures beyond with in-person experience

Australian iconic wine brand, Penfolds, has created its inaugural pop-up ‘Venture beyond’ experience, combining music, film, food and drinks into an experiential activation in Sydney in August.

Credit: Penfolds

The brand partnered with Australian music duo, Client Liaison, for a three-night event, which will also includes a curated ‘intergalactic’ menu from Australian chef, Nelly Robinson, plus tunes from DJ Dan Lywood. There’s also a short film created by art collective, Babekuhl, highlighting its winemaking process and cross-hemisphere approach to the 2022 Penfolds Collection, plus masterclasses on offer.

The experiential activation is part of a global shift towards repositioning the Penfold’s brand away from fine wine to a global luxury item under the moniker, venture beyond. Space is an integral creative element in the wider brand program.

The ‘Venture Beyond’ experience is running 4-6 August 2022 at Carriageworks in Sydney. Tickets for Venture Beyond’ are available to the public in two forms: The ‘lunar experience’ and the ‘orbital experience’ including the masterclass entry. Both include food by Chef Nel, along with three glasses of newly released wines from The Penfolds Collection 2022: The Australian Bin 28 Shiraz 2020, Californian Bin 600 Cabernet Shiraz 2019 and French FWT 585 Cabernet Merlot Petit Verdot 2019.  

“'Venture Beyond’ personifies our innovative spirit and desire to push the boundaries through selfbelief.
After seeing this concept come to life in Bangkok in July, we look forward to welcoming guests to this unique
experience in Australia, followed by other markets around the globe including Hong Kong and Shanghai”, said Penfolds CMO, Kristy Keyte.

Credit: Penfolds

The ‘Venture beyond’ experience in Sydney is part of a five-city tour which also encompasses Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Yahoo’s Future Shock immersive Web3 tie-up

Bringing Web3 to the masses via a large-scale integrated campaign for Sydney-based art curators, Future Art, saw Yahoo partner up on an immersive, IRL experience during the recent Vivid Festival in Sydney.

Yahoo collaborated with crypto artists, Em!, Serwah Attafuah, and Coldie, to create and promote original Non-Fungible-Token (NFT) artworks for a series called ‘Future Shock’. Bringing the artworks to life in 3D, Yahoo Creative Studios built custom WebAR extensions of these NFTs through its Immersive Platform.

Credit: Yahoo

The artworks were then on show at the ‘Future Art is Vivid’ event at Home The Venue on 27 May 2022. Organised by Future Art as part of Vivid’s opening night, the event showcased original artworks from 24 of the world’s leading crypto-artists. It also gave guests an immersive way to interact with the works and the stories behind them while indulging in an experience immersive show, live music, theatrical performances, AR/VR lounges and cocktail bars.

The ‘Future Art is Vivid’ show was curated by Future Art, curator, Sats Moon, and Potbelleez Producer and DJ Dave Goode, two pioneers of the Australian digital art scene. Works on display included those from The Sarah Show (USA), Coldie (USA), EM! (Japan), Giant Swan (Australia), Marc-O-Matic (Australia), and Sydney’s Robson and Serwah Attafuah. These sat alongside the collectible NFT art from Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks.

Samsung was also involved, providing its Neo QLED TV to display NFTs during the event, which gave guests the ability to best experience the emerging ideas and aesthetic.

“Future Art is Vivid has been curated as a multi-sensory journey to remodel your experience of contemporary art. We’re so excited to be bringing the very best international crypto-artists onto the Australian stage,” Sats Moon said at the time. “Digital art has boomed into a multi-billion-dollar global market. There’s no doubt this is the way of the future. It’s great to have powerhouse innovators like Yahoo and Samsung Electronics Australia on board who understand this future vision, and are helping us bring it to life.” 

SCA's day in the life experience to celebrate Listnr

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) also employed the senses in its latest in-person activation in July, transforming Sydney’s Campbell Stores into an immersive experience for its Listnr offering. The set-up aimed to demonstrate the interactive nature of the brand and diverse ways consumers engage with Listnr audio content to B2B customers and the wider media.

Credit: SCA

More than 400 guests including advertisers, media and partners walked through a day in the life of a Listnr user, starting with waking up in the morning listening to Steve Price on Australia Today. A second scene showed a consumer heading to the gym listening to Abbie Chatfield’s It’s A Lot podcast, while the third featured an individual catching the train then at their work desk listening to Triple M’s The Marty Sheargold Show. The final scene featured a consumer cooking dinner in the evening while listening to the Hit Network’s national drive show, Carrie & Tommy.

SCA general manager of digital audio, Grant Tothill, then hosted a panel discussion for guests featuring head of content for Listnr Original Podcasts, Jennifer Goggin, host of The Howie Games Mark ‘Howie’ Howard, podcast and radio show host, Abbie Chatfield, and SCA CEO, Grant Blackley.

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