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Brands digitize live events to bolster consumer databases

Top brands are introducing digital and social elements to summer road tours and live events to continue interaction with consumers well after the appeal of the in-person experience has worn off. ?

Shoe company Keds conducted a road tour to university campuses to reintroduce its brand to college-age consumers. Although the live events positioned Keds in front of its target audience, the company also wanted to connect with consumers in all 50 states after the nine-city tour ended in late May, said Laurie Heller, brand marketing manager at Keds. ?

“That’s definitely what we looked to digital to drive,” she explained. ?

To expand the reach of the “How Do You Do?” campaign, Keds developed an online shoe design contest that consumers could enter on-site or online. The submission form also featured an email opt-in to receive product information, offers and future event alerts. ?

“We did build up quite a marketing database, so now that the tour is over, we’re talking to an audience who has that one-to-one connection with the brand that historically we wouldn’t have had,” said Heller. “Without the digital component, I don’t think it would have been impactful.”?

Adding a digital element is critical to ensuring lasting ROI from a live event, said Ron Rogowski, principal analyst at Forrester Research. “The road show may be the more effective means for connecting with a group of people, but what happens after? Are you content to just leave it at that? How do you continue the engagement with people?” he said. “You’re going to have to do that through some sort of digital means.”?

A mix of digital with live events can also help introduce a new brand. HBO worked with agency Campfire to commandeer New York and Los Angeles food trucks in April to promote the debut of the Game of Thrones series. Consumers had to follow the show’s Twitter and Facebook accounts to locate the trucks.?

Mike Monello, executive creative director at Campfire, said HBO decided to use the two social networks because a digital campaign would be more valuable than just assuming consumers would find the trucks by chance. ?

“It’s almost like a chance encounter could be perceived by a consumer as a promotion that HBO’s doing, while the tweet has a closer feel to word-of-mouth,” he said. “That spread is really important if you design the physical aspect of a campaign to help people tell a story.”

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