Today’s consumers, Millennials in particular, are sick of being sold to—instead they want to feel like a part of the brand. One solution: Creating experiences involving your potential consumers. Six healthcare marketers tell us their favorite “experience marketing” examples and what healthcare marketers can learn from them.

McDonald’s “Pay With Lovin’”

Lesson: Change the Primary Experience

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Two types of experiential marketing are used today: Separated and integrated. Separated experiences happen in addition to the primary brand interaction, and include pop-up stores, interactive kiosks or product sampling. It’s like adding a topping to your frozen yogurt.

By contrast, integrated experiences change the essence of the primary interaction so that customers are not asked to engage in a new experience or learn a new interface. This is like going from plain vanilla to strawberry. Integrated experience marketing offers the opportunity to introduce innovation for the long haul.

This year’s McDonald’s Super Bowl “Pay With Lovin’” ad is an example. Customers are simply offered an opportunity to complete their normal transaction in a surprising way—by paying with a good deed. Their reactions became the TV ad, and people everywhere were reminded that the golden arches are still part of the fabric of American culture.

So what can healthcare companies learn from this? Look for opportunities to change the flavor of the primary experience. Think about existing touch points: Packaging, point of care, pharmacies, community centers, support groups and educational institutions. Give customers some aspect of control or influence over the experience. And remember that being part of zeitgeist is more important than any individual sale. Matthew Howes, Senior Vice President, Marketing Innovation, Palio+Ignite, an inVentiv Health Company

Absolut Vodka’s Open Canvas

Lesson: Offer a Creative Outlet

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Absolut Vodka’s Open Canvas project asked artists to create work for two interactive outdoor exhibitions—one in San Francisco and the other in Brooklyn. The campaign extended the idea of experience marketing to include not just the creation of the exhibitions, but also the audience’s interactions with the work and the outdoor gallery space.

The use of artwork or other creative expression can easily be leveraged by pharmaceutical brands. Patients—and in some cases caregivers—frequently have a complex mix of emotions associated with their conditions. The use of creative or artistic expression is likely to engage patients while helping to raise disease awareness among those who have not yet been diagnosed.

Experience marketing shows great promise for helping brands reach and engage with patients and caregivers. For example, take the “EIB All Stars” awareness campaign for exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB). Patients were encouraged to submit stories of how they managed EIB. Finalists were selected and then voting was opened to the public through the campaign website and Facebook.  Numerous examples of experience marketing exist from which to draw inspiration. But the most successful encourage repeated engagement that empowers the consumer. Anju Kanumalla, Senior Copy Writer, Calcium 

Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger Love Songs

Lesson: Make Customers’ Contributions Meaningful

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Fast food chains fear that Millennials are abandoning classic offerings like burgers and fries for more trendy and “unique” options. So they’ve been in an arms race trying to win taste buds (and wallets) with featured items such as Wendy’s pretzel bacon cheeseburger—something more premium in nature, like the food equivalent of a craft beer.

But simply offering new food is only half the battle, and Wendy’s knew they’d have to figure out an effective way to reach Millennials. The result? Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger Love Songs. The campaign was entirely social driven: Fans professed their love for the new burger using the hashtag #pretzellovesongs, and Wendy’s and the agency selected the best responses. Then they worked with musical acts to produce bona fide love songs and music videos using consumers’ tweets as lyrics. The campaign was a tremendous win for Wendy’s, resulting in a 31% stock increase and, ultimately, their most successful product launch ever.

The lesson: Don’t just ask consumers for their opinion and call that “being social.” Instead, make contributions rewarding and meaningful (in this case, your tweet’s recognition in a song lyric). Then consumers really feel like they’re part of something and not just a marketing target.Brent Scholz, Group Creative Director, Intouch Solutions

Pop-Up Pops Tour

Lesson: Create Uplifting Events

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A lot of great lessons can be learned from how brands in other categories market themselves, such as a well-executed event designed to surprise and delight consumers. In the increasingly hectic pace of daily life, the value of an experience that lifts spirits can gain great traction and huge visibility. Consumers are constantly looking to share cool things that happen to them via social media. Add that to doing something attention grabbing in a highly trafficked area and you have a powerful cocktail of experience marketing + PR + social media.

For example, to promote the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular’s first ever live webcast, we conceptualized and executed the Pop-Up Pops tour. This road trip featured conductor Keith Lockhart and a 10-member ensemble from the Boston Pops playing patriotic favorites along the East Coast. The key message: “Watch the Pops.” Fans were also encouraged to promote the webcast by tweeting #WatchThePops for a chance to win a trip to Boston and the opportunity to conduct the Boston Pops during their 2015 spring season. The social media contest received 717 entries with more than 1.7 million social impressions. Ultimately, 930,000 people watched the online webcast—more than twice the number of the television broadcast. Christian Megliola, Director of Public Relations and Content Strategy, McK|CP, a Division of Connelly Partners

Jimmy Choo Trainer Hunt Campaign

Lesson: Reward Your Customers

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What do you do to truly engage your customers when you are a well-known shoe company in a crowded market and want to launch a new line of sneakers? Jimmy Choo decided to marry the high-end boutique experience with an online campaign. Hence the Jimmy Choo Trainer Hunt Campaign.

The core of the campaign was to use Foursquare to encourage customers to interact with the brand via a real-time treasure hunt in which people had to physically chase a pair of the trainers around the city of London using location-based clues. To enable people to track and follow the trainers, profiles were set up under the name “catchachoo” on Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook. Whoever was able to “catch” the trainers would win a pair in their size. The hunt lasted for three weeks.

The most important lesson here is the application of joining up the experience online and offline and engaging appropriately. Too often pharma is siloed. We need to create holistic and connected brand experiences that reward those who engage with you. Imagine a treasure hunt at a medical meeting with a leaderboard for those who check in the most at a booth. Or a drug launch that engages the patient and HCP communities in a similar manner. Ritesh Patel, EVP, Chief Digital Officer, Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide

Loctite’s “Win at Glue”

Lesson: Make the Brand Fun

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Super Bowl advertising is about creating something that’s talked about during the game and buzzed about the next morning. But some are able to create a great experience that lives well beyond the Super Bowl.

Loctite, a maker of glues and adhesives, ran a spot called “Win at Glue” that created a multichannel experience for non-Millennials. The tongue-in-cheek humor and array of personalities help viewers self-identify while simultaneously poking fun at the idea of self-identifying.

It used what feels like a traditional long-form infomercial in such a clever and entertaining way while using social media (#WinAtGlue) to drive further engagement with the brand. And while they did things with humor, the information on their website and YouTube channel clearly conveys the benefits of Loctite products. It’s the kind of creative that isn’t normally associated with home repair products, and that’s what makes it so effective.

Healthcare advertising presents an opportunity to leverage people and personalities in a fun, entertaining way, while also delivering important information to doctors and patients. The idea of experience marketing may seem a little risky in the conservative world of pharma, but it’s an engaging and proven way to drive loyalty in customers, which is always the goal. Elizabeth Elfenbein, Creative Partner, The CementBloc

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