Articles Insights US

Raise money for Coronavirus relief by celebrating your Resilient Ones

Through #TheResilientOnes initiative, we are giving people the chance to pay tribute to their chosen heroes of the pandemic by creating personalized illustrations for a $20 donation to the Coronavirus Relief Fund.

Entries can be made by emailing a photograph of their hero to Submissions will be accepted until 9pm EST on Friday May 22nd. Then 15 will be chosen to be visualized by illustrator Alana McDowell in the striking, vibrant style of her #TheResilientOnes artworks.

“The more characterful your chosen photo, the better!” said Sense New York President Sarah Priestman. “Those selected will then donate to our Coronavirus Relief Fund page before receiving their illustration. If you’re feeling generous, then please feel free to donate regardless!”

Sense New York recently launched #TheResilientOnes, a series of four stunning artworks designed and developed by fierce creative duo, Alana Mcdowell (Illustrator) and Nathaly Charria (Creative Director). Each is free to download and focused on the humans and happenings that have inspired hope and strength during lockdown. The fourth illustration, entitled ‘Thank You’, featured some of the people who had tragically lost their lives to save and protect others. This proved the inspiration behind the new fundraising initiative.

#TheResilientOnes include:

Part 1 – ‘We’ll meet again’ draws on the agency’s British roots and celebrates Elizabeth II’s candid and inspiring address to her citizens – plus ways to stay positive, until everyone is reunited.

Part 2 – ‘New York Tough’ pays homage to the agency’s home, one of the worst-hit cities in the world, and the collective strength and solidarity of New Yorkers, together with Governor Cuomo’s masterclass in leadership.

Part 3 – ‘Lean on Me’ celebrates the incredible coming together of the global community that’s taken place to care for one another and beat the crisis. Plus the late, great Bill Withers.

Part 4 – ‘Thank you’ marks the relentless courage and dedication of critical workers, some of whom have lost their lives to save others and help re-build the world. The illustration captures the faces of some of those heroes, including the late Kious Kelly from New York, Ketty Herawati Sultana from Jakarta, and Li Wenliang from Wuhan.

Articles Insights

The Resilient Ones: A Digital Immune Boost To Inspire Hope and Strength During Lockdown

Like many people, within our world of events and experiential and beyond, we’ve been scarred by the impact of COVID-19.  This has compelled us to contribute some good – in the hope it might provide a boost to others – whilst showing our deepest gratitude for those on the frontline.

As always during periods of challenge, we lean on each other as teammates and pull from our agency DNA for inspiration. A heady mix of guts, resilience and passion; of comradeship and a human connection – central to the work we do.  From here we conceived The Resilient Ones, which celebrates everything the global community has achieved and will continue to, in the face of the pandemic.

It’s a heartfelt art series that people can download for free – four striking, vibrant illustrations designed to bring hope and inject positivity into these darker days. Each centers on a theme that has given us strength since the lockdown began. Speaking to our British roots, our beloved New York base and the eclectic mix of humans and happenings that have carried us thus far.

To create the artwork, we reunited two of our most favored female creative forces who also led our #CelebrateWomen initiative for International Women’s Day in 2018: Alana McDowell, illustrator extraordinaire, and Nathaly Charria, experiential Creative Director.

The results – #TheResilientOnes – are as follows:

‘We’ll meet again’ draws on Elizabeth II’s recent inspiring address to her citizens. For our female-led team, she’s the ultimate feminist, the epitome of resilience and a formidable leader. Stoic and realistic, she’s always grounded in optimism.

‘New York Tough’ pays homage to our home – one of the worst hit cities on the planet – and the collective strength and kindness of New Yorkers, who’ve made it through many tough times in the past. We’ve centered on a comment made by Governor Cuomo, who has faced the pandemic with honesty, authority and warmth, providing a masterclass in leadership.

‘Lean on Me’ celebrates the incredible coming together of the global community that’s taken place to care for each other and beat the crisis. There have been so many beautiful examples of great human spirit since the start of the pandemic – resilience being one. This also commemorates the life of Bill Withers. ‘Lean on Me’ with its message of overcoming hardships together, feels as if it was written for just this moment.

‘Thank you’ is a tribute to the relentless courage and dedication that’s being shown by critical workers across the globe and marks the huge debt of gratitude we will forever owe them. These are the true heroes and heroines of the crisis, constantly placing themselves in danger to help the sick and vulnerable, from medical staff to care workers to those delivering our weekly grocery orders. It’s our way of saying thank you to each and every one of them – some of whom have lost their lives to save others and help rebuild the world as we know it. We’ve captured just some of those faces here, to include the late Kious Kelly from New York, Ketty Herawati Sultana from Jakarta and Li Wenliang from Wuhan.

During these exceptionally tough times, people and businesses need hope to give them the strength to persevere. We want these strong messages and vibrant illustrations to be vivid reminder of the power of the human spirit and provide everyone with an electronic immune boost when we all need it most.

This article was featured on Thrive Global.


Articles Insights

Now is the time to be a good brand

We find ourselves in incredible times. On 1st January 2020, no one could have predicted where we’d collectively be three months into the new decade. A global health crisis appearing from nowhere, costing lives and straining the world’s already stretched health services. A terrible economic cost, with many jobs lost and businesses folding. There have been winners and losers, the majority losers with falling revenues for many products and services.

It may seem insensitive to talk about the brand building potential of these strange times. However, if Coronavirus has taught us one thing it is the importance of a healthy economy. When people stop moving and spending, jobs are lost and lives are impacted. If businesses and brands are successful, we all win. That’s capitalism!

“Chaos is a ladder” – Petyr Baelish, Game of Thrones.

Without sounding too heartless, the chaos caused by Covid-19 provides a huge opportunity for businesses. It is an opportunity to reinvent, redefine and reinvigorate, to stockpile that most important of commodities – consumer trust. Now is the time to lay the foundations that will determine whether a business will falter or flourish in the coming years and decades. 

From media companies hit by fake news to FMCG brands tainted through association with damaging online content, the trust gap has widened in recent years, killing whatever customer loyalty existed. In a world where we are bombarded by advertising and marketing in different forms, how come only a handful of brands garner our attention? Hint: it’s to do with long-term thinking. 

The shift towards marketing with real-world purpose has helped to a degree, but so often efforts have lacked authenticity or smacked of tokenism. However, a global crisis provides an opportunity to reverse this trend, with brands and businesses making a difference in the real world by showing altruism when people need it most.

The situation may look grim, but at some point, life will return to normal. As spring arrives, we’re already starting to see the shoots of recovery in China almost five months after the first cases were recorded in the country. When this happens in Europe, the Americas, Australasia, Africa, and other parts of Asia, it’s key for brands to be as prepared for it as possible. How? Not by planning the next ROI driving campaign, but by building their brand now through meaningful campaigns.

Some excellent research carried out in the past couple of weeks provides a useful road map. Kantar’s COVID-19 Barometer surveyed 25,000 people across 30 markets between 14 and 23 March, providing a guide to what people want to see brands do during times of crisis. The most popular response is telling: “look after your employees and help national and global efforts where possible.” Some 78% of those surveyed expect companies to worry about their employees’ health, and to favour flexible working. Meanwhile, 41% are looking for support for hospitals, and 35% help for government. The second message is that brands shouldn’t just do good stuff, but also talk about how they are being helpful (77%), inform people about how they are reacting to the new situation (75%), and offer reassurance (70%).

Will brands that act well during these times see tangible business results? According to GfK’s poll of 1,000 US consumers, 73% of those surveyed say the way companies act during the crisis will affect future purchase decisions.

There are already some great examples. Making a direct impact on people’s physical health, a number of alcohol brands, including BrewDog, Psychopomp Microdistillery, 58 Gin and Verdant Spirits in the UK are manufacturing hand sanitiser gel from denatured alcohol and giving it to hospitals for free. Dyson is manufacturing much-needed ventilators.

FMCG giant Unilever has committed €100 million to curtail the spread of the virus through the donation of soap, sanitiser, bleach, and food to help protect the lives and livelihoods of consumers, suppliers, and its workforce. To help the world’s worst-hit country, Vodafone Italy has launched a campaign filmed entirely from the crew’s homes which simultaneously shows the importance of connectivity and raises money for The Red Cross. Even the Royal Mint is getting in on the act, using its manufacturing facility in South Wales to make medical visors to protect frontline care workers, spurred on by its engineers who kept to help the NHS. And who can’t love Joe Wicks and his morning, online PE lessons?

Not every business can support the healthcare effort, so others are devising innovative ways to keep up the spirits of the global population in not-so-beautiful isolation. Uber Eats lifted delivery charges and has offered discounts on food deliveries, helping people on lockdown and struggling restaurants. BrewDog has created a virtual pub to bring people together and promote social distancing, while restaurant chain Chipotle is hosting virtual lunch hangouts.

What all these examples have in common is they actually make a difference. All will be feeling the impact of the lockdown themselves, yet they show people their conscience. Building trust in this way will drive future recovery and long-term success. Employee morale should not be underestimated either.

These extraordinary times require an extraordinary response. Businesses and brands face scrutiny and rightly so. Rise to the challenge and brands can build a platform of trust that will prove invaluable in the future. The world won’t forget those that did what they could when the chips were down. 

Vaughan Edmonds is a Planner at global brand experience agency Sense.

This article was published in Advertising Week.

Articles Insights

How to run a successful experiential marketing campaign

Running a successful experiential marketing campaign takes planning and processes, as well as preparing for the unexpected.

We’ve learned this the hard way from our 15 years on the front lines here at Sense. As with all marketing campaigns, your experiential goals should align with your wider brand and business objectives. So, to maximise your campaign’s consistency and impact, you’ll need an agreed process that your whole team can work through together.

Experiential marketing campaigns are different to traditional campaigns in that they always involve an element of direct customer interaction. This needs to be built into your campaign process from the strategy stage, because it’s often at the heart of the campaign itself. Every experience is different, but here are six fundamental and future-proof steps to make sure your experiential marketing campaigns have maximum impact.

1. Understand your goals

First, it’s a case of scrutinising the brief and working out the best team to deliver the campaign. What special creative skills and experience does it demand?

Once an initial team of account handlers, planners, creatives, production, and staffing personnel has been formed, it’s time to sit everyone down and go through the brief thoroughly. This is the time to work out what the brand requires, identifying critical areas. It’s also the time to question the client and partner agencies for any areas that need clarifying, and get any additional information. Goals are the grounding for every great campaign. We’ve waxed lyrical about them here, so have a read before getting creative.

2. Creative, strategic planning and budget harmony!

With your brief on the table and your team in place, you’ll need to work with everyone to build an exciting creative concept backed with a solid strategy, and all within budget – easy, right?

Your planners should work alongside creative and production to dig into consumer insights and build concepts. Alongside this, you’ll need to establish the cost of the experiential marketing execution, taking all elements into account. The live part of the experiential campaign means there’ll be one or more events to organise, possibly a tour. This needs to be costed as accurately as possible, along with internal resources, developing and producing the creative, production requirements and supporting staffing. And all while staying true to the brand’s goals. Carefully sourcing suppliers with the right skills and experience is vital, as well as negotiating the best deal.

If your client has set a budget in the brief, how does your estimated figure compare? If it’s higher than specified, look for ways to reduce costs without impacting the effectiveness of the campaign.

If you feel that the campaign ROI could be compromised by the budget, it’s important to make this clear to your client.

Key to this is the brief response…

3. Get campaign sign off

With the campaign planned and an initial budget calculated, it’s time to present your creative ideas. For many, this is one of the highlights and “big buzzes” of agency life. It’s arguably even more exciting with experiential marketing, as there’s more theatre involved.

Your pitch shouldn’t focus solely on the campaign, but rather how the activation will achieve the goals and objectives while staying true to the product, company, and brand. You need to give the client the confidence that consumers will get an accurate brand experience, because no other type of campaign has such a personal touch.

Be as transparent as possible and invite feedback. An open and honest discussion at this stage is vital to managing expectations and agreeing on an accurate budget.

A pitch should inspire and motivate while highlighting your true understanding of the brand. After all, if an agency can’t engage a client at this point, how will the campaign engage the target audience once it’s live?

4. Plan and prepare the activation

There could be a little back-and-forth after presenting the brief response, but once the client’s happy with the proposal, it’s time to flesh it out. This involves working closely with your team and your chosen suppliers to formulate the full-timing plans and get the financials nailed down.

Designing and making the key physical creative elements of the campaign can take the longest time, so this needs to be up and running as soon as possible.

Recruiting appropriate brand ambassadors is also vital. Rather than simply pulling them from an existing ‘staffing pool’, it’s best to source them specifically to meet the requirements of the campaign, so they perfectly reflect the brand. Your chosen team of brand ambassadors and influencers then needs to be thoroughly trained.

The location should be carefully selected to enable the activation to engage with the target audience and bring the experiential concept to life. If this is a tour, the logistics must be planned out and booked.

This stage can take anything from three weeks for a tight turnaround on a sampling campaign, to up to six months when planning a roadshow or live event. PR stunts and integrated campaigns involving other disciplines are more complex so demand more time to align strategies.

5. Go live!

No other type of campaign is as involving or exciting as an experiential marketing activation because it takes place in the real world and directly engages with customers. When dealing with real-world situations anything can happen, from a festival being cancelled to staff illnesses, so all eventualities need to be planned for and contingencies put in place.

Before live, it’s vital for experiential marketing agencies to do a mock set up of the activation (if appropriate) and make final checks on all aspects to iron out any last-minute glitches. Be ready to act on any problems as soon as the campaign’s live so they can be dealt with quickly and effectively. The account management team should carry out ongoing monitoring of the activation to ensure it runs smoothly, looking for ways it can be improved.

Initiatives need to be in place to assess the success of the campaign, from measuring footfall to interactions to social media posts generated. This should be based on the goals of the campaign and designed to assess whether they’re being met. The activation can then be tweaked while it is live, if necessary.

6. Research and evaluation

The work doesn’t finish when the activation stops. Once the campaign is over, you’ll need to assess how successful it was by measuring experiential efforts.

The key metrics put in place during the campaign need to be analysed against the objectives to assess true impact. Depending on the type of campaign and its aims, you might need to contact consumers who took part to assess their recall of the activation, how the experience influenced their opinion of the brand, and whether it generated the right response.

It’s often said that experiential campaigns are difficult to measure, but if firm objectives and assessment criteria are set early on, it’s easier to accurately measure success and ROI. This is vital in developing ongoing relationships and provides key learnings and brand experience insights that can be taken forward to continually improve campaigns. Here are some tips on how to accurately measure your campaigns.

Articles Insights

How to measure your experiential marketing campaign ROI

Without clear goals, experiential marketing campaigns can be wonderfully immersive and interactive, but without any measurable impact. Most modern brands know that a strong real-world presence pays dividends, but gauging how activations perform can be a puzzle. To make matters worse, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for assessing.

To run a successful experiential marketing campaign, you need to set clear campaign objectives from the start.

Then you can accurately measure whether your experiential activation was a brand-boosting success or a bit of a marketing mess. Here are some tips on measuring your experiential marketing campaign ROI.

Define your objectives

What do you want to achieve from your experiential marketing activation? Improved sales, signups, or sentiment?

Setting well-defined objectives are critical to creating immersive, impactful brand activations and then being able to measure brand experience. It helps keep the strategy aligned across all areas of your marketing operations. In experiential marketing especially, this integrated and simple approach produces the most meaningful results.

Some activations are carried out without objectives, because brands don’t believe experiential can be measured effectively, or they just don’t know how.

To draw real post-campaign insight, inspiration should be drawn from wider objectives. These objectives will invariably be either:

  • Action-based
    Perhaps you want to boost sales, particularly in one demographic or region. Alternatively, you might be aiming for sign-ups or engagement. This could be measured by comparing like-for-like sales or repeat purchases.


  • Perception-based
    Your brand might be striving to change what people think and feel about it on a deeper and more personal level. This could be measured by comparing how many people agree with a certain sentiment about the brand before and after the campaign.

Strategic vs tactical

Are your marketing campaigns geared towards the long or short term?


A strategic campaign is designed to enhance a brand in a sustainable way. It shares the values and purpose of the company with consumers and is the perfect opportunity to show the world what it represents and what it wants to be.


These are geared towards achieving a quicker return on investment and often have a narrower remit. This may be to hit a particular sales target, elicit a desired response or engage new audiences (e.g. using the campaign to create a viral social media post).

Understanding which of these camps your campaign falls into is important because:

  • It helps you create a better experience

Just as matching your experiential objective to your overall marketing objective focuses your campaign, so does knowing the type of campaign you’re creating. Viewing it through either a strategic or tactical lens helps you to design its features more effectively and set relevant goals.

  • It means you can measure against the right criteria

Assessing as either strategic or tactical dictates how you measure its success and your experiential marketing campaign ROI. Your campaign may effectively communicate the best aspects of your brand to consumers, but if you measure it by its immediate sales impact, your results might look disappointing.

Shaping your goals

Once you’ve settled on your objectives and you understand the type of campaign you’re planning, you can set measurable goals. It may be easier to think of goals as performance measures that sit under your primary objective, and determine whether it’s been met. You can choose relevant performance measures by asking yourself the following questions:

1.What business challenge prompted the campaign?

What are your main marketing priorities and is there anything restricting your brand’s growth?

2.What will the campaign solve?

What’s the desired outcome of the activation? This should be your experiential objective; the thing that you expect to see an improvement in because of the campaign.

3.How can this be quantified?

This will be determined entirely by your objective and the kind of campaign you’re going to execute.

Some relevant performance indicators include:

  • Opinion change
  • Purchase rates
  • Return on investment
  • Education
  • Demographic shifts
  • Competitor comparison

For example, the skincare company Sanex noticed that their brand was viewed as cold and clinical. To challenge this perception, they designed an experiential marketing campaign to bring a sense of warmth and humanity to their brand. Their measurable goal was linked to the statement: “Sanex is a brand I feel close to.” The experience boosted agreement with the sentiment by 87%.

Experiential marketing campaign ROI summary

Clear goals are the first step to devising and delivering exceptional experiences. But a great experience shouldn’t be hard to measure.

That’s why we’ve put together REAL WORLD IMPACT, A Guide To Measuring Brand Experiences In The Real World. It gives you everything you need to know about experiential reporting to start measuring experiential marketing campaign ROI and guage impact.

Download it for free from The Futures Lab below.

Articles Insights

Beauty brands are using experiential marketing to fight fear of the new

This article was originally featured in Beauty Business Journal.

With 53% of Brits afraid of trying a new beauty product, brands are increasingly turning to experiential marketing to encourage them to make the leap. Sense London’s Diana Petre-Mag looks at the factors in play and how to deliver the most effective beauty experience to attract new customers.

Beauty products are a highly personal purchase. Once someone finds a brand that they like and that works for them, they tend to stick with it. This is illustrated by recent research from, which reveals that over half of UK consumers (53%) are afraid to buy new beauty products. This figure rises in specific categories, with 68% of Brits saying they would always buy the same perfume because ‘it’s part of their identity’, and 66% repurchasing the same mascara brand, making beauty one of the strongest categories in terms of customer loyalty.

Although of course important, beauty brands can’t grow through loyal customers alone – they need new product launches to draw attention to new and existing products. So how can beauty brands win over new customers and accelerate the adoption of new products?

In a category like this, it’s all about building trust in new brands and products. If consumers can be convinced a new product is ‘sensational’, according to the study, 78% of people will switch to it. One of best ways to prove this is by giving out free samples, which 33% of consumers say helps them adopt something new. However, even more important is a friend vouching for the product, which 52% of people believe will influence them. This indicates that, although free samples are effective, they are not enough. Beauty brands can significantly increase their chance of winning people over if they can generate a product experience that people then want to share with their own network.

This realisation in brand behaviour is driving an increasing number to take product sampling beyond simply handing freebies out in store, attach them to a magazine or place in event marketing goody bags. From Revlon to Molton Brown, beauty brand experiences are proving to be a successful way to engage directly with consumers to drive more convincing trial as well as encouraging new customers to spread the word and purchase.

Benefit are a prime example of a beauty brand that has wholeheartedly embraced experiential activity at the core of their marketing strategy. From their vibrant pink Roller Liner Diner on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles that ran for two weeks to their Benefit Ship on London’s Southbank and drive-through on the way to Glastonbury 2018, they are feeling the benefits away from store and continue to launch products with pop-up brand experiences that are shared through PR and social. Revlon, meanwhile, recently opened a 24-hour beauty salon to celebrate its best-selling colorstay foundation, with Max Factor unveiling its Facefinity gallery.

But what factors are key to maximising the effectiveness of these real world beauty experiences? Here are four essentials:

1. Focus on a product or engaging theme

Beauty brand experiences work best when they train consumers’ attention on a single product, or focus on a theme. This year, L’Oréal is pushing its Lancôme fragrances for Christmas by erecting a 36-foot Eiffel Tower at St Pancras International station made from 1,500 bottles of its La Vie Est Belle fragrance, with a pop-up shop at its base. A great twist is that the bottles will be donated to the international cancer support charity Look Good Feel Better.

2. Deepen the trial experience

Use marketing tools to create an environment that allows consumers to try out the beauty product as thoroughly as possible. Ideally, this should include experts at hand that can offer guidance and demonstrations to help people get the most out of the product. Last Christmas, The Body Shop created a sensorial Enchanted Forest pop-up experience in Shoreditch, London to promote its green credentials and the new Christmas collection. It included a programme of free events, including makeovers, workshops, panel talks, and yoga classes. This year it is running the ‘Dream Big’ beauty experience, bringing the brand to a younger, eco-focused audience in an environment that promises to ‘pamper, inspire and inform’.

3. Make it personal

Tap into the highly personal and intimate nature of beauty products by tailoring the experience to each visitor as much as possible. MAC’s Studio Fix experience offered each consumer a ‘Shade Match’ consultation to identify their unique foundation colour codes. These were then applied to any product they purchased on the day at a #GetYourFix personalisation station.

4. Include a spread-the-word mechanism

Extend the reach and influence of each activation to visitors’ friends and family by including techniques that enable people to post their experiences of the product or brand through their social media channel – or channels – of choice. Use a driver such as a prize draw or freebie to incentivise this vital process. For example, visitors to Benefit’s GlastonBrow pit-stop on the road to Glastonbury 2018 who shared a picture of themselves at the festival with their gift from the drive-thru using #BenefitBrows were in with the chance of winning a year’s supply of Benefit’s cult brow products.

5. Use data to grow your customer base

Incorporate ways to capture the data of pop-up visitors and getting their permission to send out information, such as offers, free samples and beauty tips, and guidance. Brand trial is a great way to drive sales and more importantly loyalty beyond the life of the activation.

Managed in the right way, beauty experiences are a key weapon in the battle to quell consumers’ fear of trying new products in this category, while also capitalising on the importance of friends and family influence in encouraging people to switch brands.

Articles Insights

Brand experience for good: Solving America’s loneliness epidemic

Loneliness is widespread among Americans, affecting three out of four people, according to a 2018 study by Cigna. With loneliness potentially having the same impact on life expectancy as smoking, it’s clear we have an issue on our hands.

The paradox is that we live in a world seemingly more connected than ever – and not just via technology and social media, which has arguably contributed to the problem. Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic rise in co-working and living spaces, music festivals, and coffee shops – all of which are inherently designed to bring people together and drive meaningful connections.

But there is clearly more work to do, and this issue provides an interesting opportunity for brands and brand experience.

There are countless examples of how brands are taking an active role in creating a sense of inclusion online, including Peloton Riders, Sephora’s Beauty Talk and Lego Ideas. However, it’s not new news that true belonging is most effectively achieved through in-person connections, as Roxane Gay eloquently articulates. Even Facebook recognises that community building in the digital sphere isn’t going to cut it anymore – and that’s saying something.

Cue experiential marketing, the medium that now plays a large role in combating this fluid state of isolation. Experiences are helping brands create a real human connection that today’s consumers desperately want. Below are the key principles that should be in every brand’s marketing playbook, with a focus on in-person experiences:

Curate authentic brand experiences

In a world of celebrity endorsements, sponsored posts and paid influencers, people crave authenticity more than ever, especially with the younger generations. So it’s vital for real-life brand experiences to offer value and allow for meaningful connections. This doesn’t need to come at the cost of the “Instagrammable moments”, by the way.

Desperados embraced this philosophy recently, as the brand felt that people’s dependency on their phones was negatively impacting socialisation at parties. Upon arrival at their event, guests handed over their phones in exchange for a beer. Following this, the phones were linked up and played synchronized animations in time with the music. The result was a valuable connection IRL versus a device.

Inspire self-expression and play

Surprise and delight, by giving your audience brand experiences that play into their own most idyllic selves. The House of Vans event spaces provide an always-on playground for people to get together, skate and enjoy shared passions like art, music, film and sports. These hubs are used to immerse consumers in the brand, but also enable creative expression and build grassroots communities.

Lead a movement

The best brand communities are made up of fiercely loyal customers. Jeep fuels this sense of togetherness by hosting yearly “Jamborees” where owners gather for a weekend of fun, while Lululemon offers accessible, invigorating experiences and classes year-round. Both brands are positioned as essential members of a cultural movement, connecting people with what they love, and in doing so, these brands become indispensable.

Employ genuine fans

Young adults increasingly distrust formal, marketed and curated brand communication—with personal experiences (66 percent) and people like themselves (65 percent) leading the charge, statistics recently outlined at the Youth Marketing Summit in New York. Adidas tapped into this insight, building one of the best global retail programs through its Adidas Field Agent Program. It re-established the brand as the second-place leader in a fiercely competitive category. Adidas’ roots are founded in individual creators, and as such, it recruits, hires and trains in-the-know influencers who are local experts and can talk with conviction and passion when it comes to the intersection of sports and fashion. Viewing staff as “keepers of the brand” has been a game changer for the brand, harboring consumer trust.

Authentic community building in the real world is a powerful way to connect with consumers and is a step in the right direction in addressing the current crisis of social belonging. Overcoming this loneliness epidemic will require commitment and integration across this business and beyond—and demand authenticity as a pre-requisite. The byproduct? A deep sense of brand loyalty, commercial opportunities and—for those that really master the art of community building—iconic cult status.

Hayley James is Vice President of Sense New York.

This article first appeared in Muse by Cliobran

Articles Insights

How brands should be approaching sustainability in experiential marketing

How Brands should be approaching sustainability in experiential marketing

With fires raging through the Amazon, Climate Week NY in full swing following Greta Thunberg’s incredibly moving speech to the UN and consumer environmental awareness at an all-time high, it’s an important moment for the planet, and imperative for sustainability to be front and center for brands. While consumers don’t expect perfection when it comes to environmental practices, they clearly want change, which means they want to know that company values are aligned with their own.

Historically, experiential marketing has been an extremely wasteful discipline, with bottom lines often taking precedence over being environmentally conscious. Travel emissions, mass product sampling, wasted food and beverage, not to mention the residual waste from events, have meant that activations often impact the environment far more than you might expect. Waste footprints vary between events, but even with a good disposal programme, mid-size events can result in up to 41% of materials deposited in landfills – with just 35% recycled, 21% composted and 3% donated (MetGreen – 2104).

So, as we embrace Climate Week and look at this moment through a marketing lens, we need to ask ourselves – how can brands and agencies best address the issue of waste when it comes to using their experiential platform?

Assess the impact at every stage

Campaigns, especially experiences, create waste. But it’s not always the obvious aspects that need to be considered when assessing the impact of an experiential activation on the environment. Brands should be placing their projects under the microscope from when experiential strategy begins, all the way through to execution. Looking at everything from travel emissions linked to client meetings and importing products, to engaging with vendors that share the same values and sourcing and disposing of environmentally friendly materials are all key components in ensuring your campaign remains as sustainable as possible.

Show you care by providing sustainable touch points

If you have to flyer, provide access to recycling bins. Is sampling unavoidable? If so, think about providing compostable (or even edible) cups and utensils, and then ensure that there are the appropriate touch points on site for consumers to compost the used materials. Also, don’t just go for the typical customer swag items often distributed en masse at brand experiences, and instead consider gifting consumers charity donations or a digital reward.

Incorporate sustainable practices into your offering and your new business strategy

As environmentally sound practices increasingly become the norm, it’s important for marketers to build sustainable offerings into their new business strategies for clients. Integrating sustainable practices into corporate culture is integral. Doing this slowly but surely is fine – consumers don’t expect brands to adopt a zero-waste policy from day one, but they need to know that the brand they are supporting is also working to support the planet. A great way to do this is by providing clients with ongoing sustainability audits, so that brands can gain a true understanding of how their campaigns affect the environment and how they can improve their processes for future campaigns.

We all have a responsibility to think about sustainability, and as marketers, environmental awareness is no longer simply an add-on, it’s a non-negotiable that needs to be a constant part of the conversation. Brands need to be aware of how their product or service affects not just the industry and their pockets, but the wider natural and human environment. While banning single-use plastic has been a great first step, we need to continue to make strides as an industry as there is much work to be done. As we can see by the conversations happening this week, sustainability isn’t just a trend that will dissipate by 2020, it’s a global issue that will continue to impact our world for years to come and as experiential marketers, we must ensure we’re doing our part – “The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.” – Greta Thunberg, United Nations General Assembly, 23rd September 2019.

Zoe Barker is Senior Account Manager at Sense New York.

This article first appeared in Advertising Week.

Articles Insights

Trial Or Error? How To Avoid 3 Major Product Sampling Mistakes

Product trial or product sampling is easy, right? People try your product, and if they like it, they buy it. Sadly, this view has led to trial becoming an afterthought in a brand’s marketing strategy. However, if carried out strategically, brand trial can be highly effective and drive a positive return on investment. If your product is good, and you’re sampling to the right audience, the chances are they will like it and put it on their shopping list. They’ll also tell their friends, and 92% of customers believe suggestions from friends and family more than they do advertising, according to Nielsen’s classic study. The 2018 Word of Mouth Report also found 41% of people trust a recommendation from someone they know more than one via social media.

Mass trial is most effective for low-investment CPG products. Sampling works best when there are memorable or “sticky” assets for people to associate with the product.

A recent report in The Grocer revealed that big global brands are fighting high growth challenger rivals by focusing on innovation rather than discounts and promotions. However, often little thought is put into sampling as part of an innovation launch, yet it can be the spark that brings a campaign to life.

There are three key mistakes to avoid when trialing:

Under-thinking the work. Often, trial isn’t thought through properly. For example, a recent campaign involved whole tubs of butter being given to London commuters, a strategy with several shortcomings: Sampling a whole product that lasts for weeks in the fridge isn’t going to incentivise anyone to buy it quickly, and people don’t purchase it often enough to merit getting the entire pack for free. Plus, by the time consumers have used up the sample, they’ll have forgotten about the new brand.

Spend time carefully thinking through a product sampling strategy upfront, and you’ll realize the benefits later.

Paying too much to drive trial. A dog treat brand may be tempted to run a sampling campaign targeting dog owners at a dog show. But the high fixed cost involved in sampling at such an event reduces the number of samples you can afford to give away.

The cost will be far less if you target high-traffic locations, while the exercise will be self-filtering, as only dog owners will take a sample, making wastage negligible. Cost per sample would be drastically reduced, while the number of treats getting into pooches’ mouths would be maximized.

Over-engineering the creative. With product sampling, put the product first. Any creative approach should let the product talk. You don’t need a 10-minute audience interaction to get the message across, so the creative need not be complex.

In fact, a three-second rule should apply, after which time even a dis-engaged audience should know the product name, when they should be using it and why.

The core focus of the recent launch of an energy drink was sampling. The product was literally everywhere and the message was easily received, communicating its benefits and personality, while keeping the product front of mind. The product wasn’t blurred by an overly clever creative. The key sticky assets included distinctive branding, which was consistent across all channels. The result? Well, those little blue cans popped up in hands across the U.K., getting everyone talking about the brand.

So if you’re thinking about your next new product launch, give brand trial the credit it deserves. Apply the same strategic thought process that you do to your other marketing activity and you’ll reap the rewards.

This article first featured on

Articles Insights

Professional ghosting: A haunted tale

The ghosting phenomena glided through the walls of popular parlance around 2006, before permanently haunting the Collins English Dictionary in 2015. According to Psychology Today, 50% of Americans have experienced some form of ghosting, most commonly on the dating scene. But now this phenomenon is seeping into our professional lives through the lack of brand communication.

The pitch process is hard enough, and like dating, it can be fraught with issues. Sadly, in today’s fickle market, you would be hard-pressed to find an agency that hasn’t experienced ‘post-pitch ghosting.’ The RFI is followed by the RFP, followed by chemistry meetings and presentations – but then sometimes the prospect stops answering your calls and emails – and the “courtship” comes to an abrupt end.

This silent treatment renders the agency feeling powerless and can leave you wildly assessing all the things you consider post first date. What went wrong? Was it something I said? Did they meet someone else? Are they still interested in starting a new relationship? Ambiguity is the real dagger, and it hurts.      

Agencies can pretend like it doesn’t happen to them, and brands can act as though they have never ghosted a partner, but deep down we know the scenario is all too prominent. As an example, remember the infamous letter from agency Elvis addressing Rolls-Royce, after never hearing back post pitch? They had poured their hearts and souls into winning this dream account and the process stalled (pun intended), resulting in a very public shaming of the prestigious brand.

Lyft recently held a media review with multiple agencies over the course of three months and the potential partners are still speculating as to why Lyft has now gone radio silent. This type of process is a morale killer, and burns deep holes in agency pockets. So, why is it happening?

With our world relying so heavily on technology, rather than person-to-person contact, it’s becoming easier to just disappear and dodge difficult conversations. We all know what it’s like to suffer from IRSD (Inbox-Related Stress Disorder) – but this can’t excuse bad behaviour.

Perhaps this trend is the result of clients not having an understanding of what it takes for an agency to pitch a piece of business, where billable time is spent on non-billable work that is prioritised. Maybe it is based on a client mentality that their brand is one that agencies would be “lucky” to work with?

Regardless of the motives, it’s safe to say that ghosting is becoming a problematic industry trend. In the recent words of 4A’s President and CEO, Marla Kaplowitz, “it represents a misunderstanding of agencies’ role as close business partners and of the strategy and creativity they deliver. These shouldn’t be difficult conversations, especially as reputation matters, and the marketing industry should lead by example on the right way to resolve unfinished business.” 

Like in the world of dating, a solid client-agency relationship relies on communication, trust, and understanding. With all relationships come challenges – but ghosting shouldn’t be one of them, whether it be in your personal or professional life.

Agencies are often versed in how to avoid these dead-end situations, from very detailed Q&A sessions before committing to pitch participation, disqualifying prospects with bad reputations, and setting the internal bar high to instil etiquette. But, some brands have work to do to be better or good brands.

Here is our advice for brands:

  • Make sure that you and your business are committed to finding an agency partner at the end of the process – and it isn’t just a chance to go “window-shopping.”
  • Be clear and direct on what you’re looking for upfront. Don’t mislead with false promises or unrealistic hopes.
  • Keep agencies informed. If there is an internal change of direction during the process, let the teams know – and ideally, pay for any time wasted.
  • Offer honest and constructive feedback. Rejection can be kind and compassionate in its delivery – and no great agency is going to turn down an opportunity to improve.
  • Responding late is better than never. If there are ghosts in your closet, then it’s not too late to confront them.
  • If all else fails, try “caspering” instead. Send a kind email reply of, “thanks but no thanks”, ideally with some constructive rationale, then you can make your exit.

Avoiding this unpleasant modern trend would certainly make the industry a much better place, and who could say “boo” to that?

Hayley James is Group Account Director at Sense New York.

This article first appeared in Campaign US magazine.


Whether it be Festivals, Trade Shows, PR Stunts, Installations or Pop Ups to name a few, we believe brand experiences are one of the most powerful forms of marketing to impact consumer perception and attitude towards a brand. They can create real behaviour change when born out of a deep consumer insight allied to a compelling idea. And it’s these fundamentals we look to get right whatever the live, virtual or hybrid task in hand.


Sampling is all too often perceived as an unsophisticated, somewhat ‘blunt’ marketing tool. Over the last 16 years Sense has pioneered a set of strategic principles which underpin our unique approach to sampling and which are highly measurable from both an ROI and consumer behaviour change perspective. We will happily guide brands through the myriad of sampling channels and products available so whether it’s mass face to face sampling, in offices, digitally, at home or just a strategic framework that you are after, we can provide a blend of tactics to fulfil both brand and sales objectives.


With many clients now focused on activating in channels more closely associated with a sale, our heavyweight retail experience closes the loop on a typical shopper journey by encompassing the moment of truth in store. Be it prize promotions, shopper toolkits, key visual creation, path-to-purchase communications, category strategy, B2B campaigns or Amazon optimisation, our goal is to create forward-thinking retail experiences that deliver demonstrable brand value. We aim to make ‘retail fail’ a thing of the past for ambitious brands looking to thrive is an ever-competitive landscape and believe our streamlined team is perfectly placed to do this.


Knowing what will keep a brand bright, exciting, and vital means we need to keep one step ahead of the curve. Our thought leadership hub, The Futures Lab, helps us to understand the marketing trends of tomorrow. It’s also the origin of strategies and methodologies which have created over 65 award-winning campaigns. 


Creativity is nothing without results. And we know that commissioning bold concepts, capable of changing minds, requires reassurance that it’s the right thing to do. 

Data, insights, and research precedes every campaign we do, and our proprietary measurement tool, EMR, gives us a decade of campaign performance metrics. Which is why we’re proud to have been recognised as industry-leading by brands like The Economist, Coca-Cola, and Molson Coors. 


We believe brand experience is inherently more varied than other forms of marketing. No formula, no template, no cookie-cutter approach – and often no precedent. 

That’s why, Sense places trust at the heart of its business – grounded in teamwork between our people and yours. Our processes are efficient, our senior team stay involved and our partnership mentality had helped us sustain powerful client relationships, some lasting over 10 years.