Are you one of the many marketers who dismissed Maroon 5’s wedding crasher-themed “Sugar” video as a PR stunt?
It’s an understandable assumption. After all, the reactions, locations, and performances featured in the viral music video were obviously choreographed. On top of that, the internationally acclaimed music group followed a suspiciously unlikely performance route of fashionable Los Angeles weddings.
But before you dismiss this creative marketing strategy as disconnected, exposure-happy PR fluff, let’s take a deeper look. I’d like to make the case that Maroon 5’s video represents a highly strategic integrated marketing plan that unifies the band’s digital efforts to meet its large-scale marketing goals. More importantly, the success of this experiential marketing effort invites other brands to follow suit with their own live events.
Here are some important ways that Maroon 5 set its video apart from typical PR stunts for a truly integrated approach to experiential marketing.
First, it features a carefully styled and diverse environment. When you’re trying to capture an “in the moment” experience, the first thing you need to consider is the environment in which you plan to shoot. The best events are highly visual and accessible to all viewers, from the appealing background environment to the diverse, inclusive audience.
Maroon 5 chose the perfect background for its experiential marketing moment. It’s a wedding, so attendees are already dressed to the nines and ready for a good time. This provides a beautiful photo- and video-worthy backdrop. And unlike Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar selfie, the Maroon 5 video represented a wide range of ages, races, and reactions.
Also, it captures true “anchor moments.”Authentic emotion is at the heart of any great experiential marketing moment. When an event feels too staged, it loses its picturesque quality because the audience is completely aware of what will happen next. Unless you can tap into anchor moments that capture the excitement and energy of your event, you’re wasting your time.
With so many video cameras on set, Maroon 5 captured a lot of footage. But the video only becomes a meaningful experience when it successfully captures those anchor moments — big, beautiful reactions of brides, grooms, families, and friends. Experiential marketing initiatives like Maroon 5’s video, Bud Light’s “Up for Whatever” weekend, and WestJet’s Christmas Miracle are powerful because they capture genuine emotion and excitement.
In addition, Maroon 5’s video is instantly shareable. When a company tries to pull off a PR stunt, it usually releases a video and sits back to see how the press handles it. But this often leads to “bubble moments” — contrived experiences that don’t fit into the context of a company’s marketing strategy. Without the support of the company’s planned social media efforts, the PR stunt gets out of hand or fizzles away.
Rather than focus on a single photo or moment, such as the Department of Defense’s disastrous low-flying photo op, Maroon 5 thought through its goals and how this video would contribute to its long-term strategy. Optimizing the video across each band member’s social network and inviting fans to submit personal versions of “Sugar” built momentum for the video around the world.
Making headlines doesn’t make it a PR stunt. Maroon 5’s popular video is an engaging example of how companies can build a brand by capturing authentic, engaging moments. Follow the band’s lead to build momentum for your brand through experiential marketing and social engagement.