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3 Brands Showing Experience Marketing and Social Distancing Can Coexist

Can experience marketing survive a pandemic? These brands are showing how it’s done…

For some time, experience marketing has been a vital way to reach young consumers—and then COVID came. In the wake of the pandemic, brands rushed to move all their experiences, from concerts to movie releases, online and into homes. Virtual events have become the rage, and live social content swiftly became a go-to for brands.

But with shutdowns remaining a reality, some are starting to experiment with ways they can meet young consumers in the real world—while social distancing. Of course, most young consumers remain incredibly cautious about in-person events. According to our recent report on their summer plans, only 9% are going to large gatherings and the majority plan to hang out at home for most of the summer. But that also means that they’re craving some of the things they can’t do anymore, so brands that find a way to give them a taste of those experiences, while staying safe, are standing out. With safety as a central focus, a handful of brands are creatively showing that social distancing and experience marketing can coexist—here are three great examples:

BABE Wine’s Mani Truck

Professional manicures are hard to come by these days, so BABE wine created a baby pink free manicure truck to help Brooklynites fix their “garbage nails” during COVID. According to Insider, the mani truck “extravaganza” was the brainchild of co-founder Josh Ostrovsky, aka The Fat Jewish, who reaches millions of young consumers with his meme account. The truck, painted with the message “Your nails look crazy. We’re here for you,” offered free manicures to New Yorkers in three colors inspired by BABE’s wines. To ensure safety, the manicures were given through holes in plexiglass, customers wore masks and stood six feet apart while waiting, and manicurists wore protective overalls, safety glasses, and gloves. The brand’s Instagram video of the event has received more than 25,000 views, and according to Ostrovsky, they’re now planning on expanding the effort to “cities across America” thanks to positive feedback.

Walmart’s Drive Ins

Walmart is hosting a drive-in movie theaters for quarantined families. As Millennial parents continue to look for ways to keep their children entertained this summer, Walmart is the latest brand to step in. They’re teaming up with Tribeca Enterprises to host movie nights at 160 stores across the U.S. by transforming parking lots into drive-in theaters. The movies are set to start in early August, and include car-side popcorn and drink service for “safe, socially distanced” events for experience-hungry consumers. According to Motley Fool, the showings will feature hit movies and celebrity appearances. YPulse’s data has shown that young consumers are eager to go back to the movies, but most are not willing to take the risk yet—and as a result, drive-in movie theaters are seeing an unexpected revival during the social distancing era. In fact, 15% of young consumers told YPulse they plan to go to more drive-ins this summer, but if more brands follow Walmart’s lead and make them widely available, that number could go up.

Dos Equis’s Seis-Foot Cooler

Last month, Dos Equis created a limited edition “extra long” cooler exactly six-feet long so friends could drink together at a safe distance. The brand hosted a giveaway of their “Seis-Foot Cooler,” available on a first come, first serve basis to customers who bought a Dos Equis and sent the receipt to the brand starting on the morning of June 26. The company and their brand partners promoted the giveaway landing page across their social channels and their social media announced that they ran out of the coolers within 3 minutes. While we’ve seen bev brands step up their at-home marketing during quarantine, Dos Equis is the first to encourage getting together with friends in a safe way. Considering how much young consumers miss hanging out with friends, providing fun solutions that allow them to be safe while getting some in-person time could be a bigger opportunity—if done right. Stella Artois is another beer brand that has embraced social-distanced marketing: They created a 92×46-foot street art installation in London to show restaurant and bar customers how far apart they can sit while socializing.