Despite Covid, Brand Experiences are Alive and Welcome

Small, safe gestures offer respite in tough times

This Groundhog Day after day after day is making us crave our former lives. Listlessly, we get up and wonder what actual day it is again. My twin boys are so out of their minds with their go-nowhere, do-nothing routine that they are begging me to go to school. Let me repeat that … KIDS ARE BEGGING TO GO TO SCHOOL. The world is truly upside down. So we try to adapt, plan and create some safe way for us to get us out of the house for a moment. Even if it's just around the block or down the street. Anything that can bring a bit of change. Because experiences are how we mark time and make memories.

We need to keep creating moments that give people a break from this global malaise. Not just personally, but professionally. So when BMW wanted to tell the story of its design collaboration with KITH, we wanted to show up in a very real way and make something that fans of both brands could come and see. Something to break up the monotony. Something to demonstrate that the world's still in motion, even if it feels stalled.

We built a huge version of a miniature-scale model car box and popped it up in front of the KITH flagship store in Soho to debut a custom KITH version of the 2021 BMW M4 Competition Coupe. Our oversized toy car box delivered a bit of joy to our fans and let them share their experience with friends with a very Instagram-worthy backdrop. It generated a lot of smiles and, unexpectedly, a near-endless procession of BMW M fans rolling slowly by, taking long looks from behind the wheels of their own M3 and M4s. 

Experiential efforts these days are just a great reminder to people that the world still exists beyond the Zoom screens. In June, we worked with the City of New York and the Pride Committee to safely have five custom-wrapped BMW vehicles travel the intended Pride Day parade route that was cancelled due to Covid, to show the community that no matter how tough life gets, Pride is an unstoppable force for good. The surprise lit up the LGBTQ audience and drove fundraising for The Trevor Project's "Pride Everywhere" campaign.

In this new-normal, every agency is shying away from the real world. But small, and above all safe, experiential gestures can show a brand's commitment to its consumers. Experiences keep people connected and deliver a little bit of the outside world they're mostly forced to keep at bay—even it if it is ultimately delivered to most via social. It's tough to be locked in a virtual world all day. Experiences remind us that culture still exists and people can still come together.

Take the Ocean Spray guy riding his skateboard to work, guzzling his favorite juice. That little real-world moment resonated so strongly with people because it showed someone just taking a minute to enjoy himself out there in the real world, cruising to his tunes, smiling all the while in the face of so much heartache. The brand saw that and jumped in feet-first and got a lot of love back in return.

People everywhere are tired and anxious. Everyone misses everything. If a brand can safely deliver something new and different to give their fans a momentary lift, then that little experience is making someone's day just a little bit different and a little bit better. So, let's all just keep doing what we can to try and lift each other up.

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Aaron Sedlak
Aaron Sedlak is chief creative officer of Anchor Worldwide.

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