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The History Of Brand Activation Marketing Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 5470 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Since the term brand activation has not found resonance in the academic branding literature yet, research undertaken in other fields can be used to explain this unique concept. Within academic research the areas which have the most similarity with Brand Activation are

1. experiential marketing, and

2. event marketing.

This chapter reviews the existing literature on experiential marketing theory. After that, the chapter will continue on discussing the concept of event marketing as a new approach within the experiential marketing and branding literature. Based on these discussions, the construct of ‘Brand Activation’ is defined.

The concept of branding and brand management, Within the last decade or so, has become

an important concern for all types of organizations (Keller et al.,2006)Developing brand positioning is one of the first and most important branding decision and tasks since it indicates direction to all marketing activities and programs (Keller et al.,2002).

Brand positioning concerns creating key brand association in the mind of customers to differentiate the brand and create competitive advantage (Keller et al., 2002). Aside from selecting the tangible product features; intangible features are particularly important for positioning the brand. Brand intangibles stand for; ‘all aspects of the brand that don’t involve physical, tangible or concrete attributes’ (Park et al., 1986). The branding literature covers a wide range of different intangible such as user-imagery, consumption imagery, history and brand experiences (Keller, 2001).

However; even though a number of different topics concerning intangible positioning strategy has been covered and the results have advanced the acknowledgement about brands, there is yet no academic research available regarding event marketing or Brand Activation strategy. Which makes this topic a very unique and important area of research. Following chapters will elaborate more on this.

1.1 Experiential marketing

The concept of customer-experience emerged in the mid-1980’s as a new approach to view consumer behaviour (Holbrook and Hirschman, 1982). Holbrook and Hirschman (1982) conceptualized consumption to have experiential aspects. In the 1990’s Pine and Gilmore (1999) followed by presenting the ‘experience’ as a new economic offering. More recently, Gentile et al.7

(2007) defined customer experience as; “The customer experience originates from a set of interactions between a customer and a product, a company, or part of its organization, which provoke a reaction. This experience is strictly personal and implies the customer’s involvement at different levels (rational, emotional, sensorial, physical, and spiritual)” (Gentile, Spiller, and Noci 2007, p. 397). Experience as defined by Wood (2008) also involves a personal interaction with emotional meaning, created throughout interactions with product or brand. All these studies (e.g., Pine and Gilmore, 1999; Schmitt, 1992; 2003; Gentile et al., 2007; Wood 2008) suggest that customer experience has a significance influence on the customers overall perception of the brand, making the customer experience a focal point of interest for marketers.

Experiential marketing is proposed by several authors (e.g. Schmitt, 1999; Weinberg, 1993;

Kroeber-Riel, 1984; Sheinin, 2000) as a means of positioning the brand on its emotional rather than functional benefits. In experiential marketing, consumers are viewed as rational as well as emotional human beings who are interested to achieve pleasurable experiences (Schmitt, 1999). Schmitt (1999) explains that by having customers sense, feel, think, act, and relate to a company and its brands, companies are now creating experiential marketing. However according to according to Whelan and Wohlfeil (2006) there are serious conceptual weaknesses present within the literature of experiential marketing. According to them the existing literature makes use of traditional channels to tell customers how they would experience the brand while more and more customers are lacking engagement towards brands’ traditional communication (Rumbo and Joseph, 2002).

Communication has always been part of marketing a brand and as many research (e.g.,

Duncan and Moriatry, 1998; Whelan and Wholfeil, 2006; Wood, 2008, Gentile et al., 2007) has shown, the more interactive the communication is, the stronger impact the communication will have on the brand’s customers. This knowledge combined with the lack of customer engagement toward traditional communication leads marketers to develop new and innovative communication strategies that pull customers to the brand massage. These new strategies are particularly aimed at providing an environment where consumers can satisfy their experiential needs on an emotional level (Whelan, 2006). One way to create these experiences is through event marketing (Whelan and Wholfeil, 2006), which is discussed in the next section.

1.2 Event marketing

Event marketing, has its roots in experiential marketing (Whelan and Wohlfeil, 2006) a marketing tool which has become a powerful tool in the last decade within the practical field (Gentile et al.,2007) The lack of engagement with traditional mass marketing communications has been forcing brands to communicate their brand value in new ways (Weinberg, 1993; Wood, 2008). Additionally, brands need more than just their quality and functional benefits to distinguishing themselves (Wood, 8 2008; Weinberg, 1993; Kroeber-Riel, 1984). In light of these developments, interactive communication rather than a passive point of view has proven to be a valuable element in building and maintaining brand relationships with customers (Wohlfeil and Whelan, 2005, 2006). This, in turn, drives the brand’s image and value perception (Wood, 2008).

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Event marketing has the purpose to gain emotional bonds with individuals through shared experiences by providing experiences, entertainment, and education in relation to the brand (Whelan and Wohlfeil, 2006). Event marketing is a construct that first emerged in Germany in the late 1980s as an experiential marketing communication strategy (Wohlfeil and Whelan, 2005). Within the academic literature there is very little known about event marketing (Wood, 2008). The studies by Whelan and colleagues (2005, 2005a, 2006) are one of the few studies that focus on this topic. In the 2005 study Wohlfeil and Whelan described the concept of event marketing as a ‘lived’ experience. They argue for the use of real lived experiences as ” Real-lived experiences tend to be stronger than ‘second hand’ media experiences in determining consumers’ notion of reality, consumers are encouraged to experience the brand reality as active participants rather than being passive recipients and, subsequently, are offered a contribution to their subjective quality of life.” (Whelan & Wohlfeil, 2006 pp. 316). Whelan (2005, p.314) conceptualized event marketing as “the staging of interactive marketing-events as 3-dimensional hyper real brand experiences for consumers, which would result in an emotional attachment to the brand”.

In 2006, the authors analyze the effects of a marketing event, through a case study. The specific case of research of Whelan and Wholfeil in 2006 revolves around a German university with approximately 5000 students. The main goal of this event was to highlight the brand’s value.

Opposed to the traditional marketing approach the university choose for an event marketing approach, based on communicating a core value of the university, being “a place for creative and imaginative personalities, where students are encouraged to develop and implement their own ideas”

(Whelan and Wohlfeil, 2006 pp. 320). The event was conducted on the basis of a concert at the university, while the event itself served as an illustration of the brand value of ‘creative thinking’ and ‘development and implementation of own ideas’.

Results from this study support the idea of event marketing indeed being a pull strategy within marketing communication. In terms of relevant marketing-related outcomes, event marketing aims at positively influencing image, customer familiarity, attitude, and emotional attachment to the brand (Wohlfeil, 2005). Furthermore, event marketing encourages the target audience to actually experience the value of the brand by becoming part of the activity, instead of staying passive and be distant recipient of brand messages (Wood, 2008; Wohlfeil, 2005). The results emphasised that the emotional attachment to the brand was strengthened by event marketing. Furthermore, event marketing facilitates interaction between the brand and its customers, which then, according to 9 Whelan and Wohlfeil (2005) can be used as a customer-brand relationship development strategy (Looking critically at the available academic literature regarding event marketing, it is noticeable that the studies conducted by Whelan and Wholfeil (2005, 2006) are one of the few studies that focus on this topic. Other studies such as e.g., Martensen et al.(2007) also focus on this topic however the definition of event marketing on which the study is based differs somewhat from the definition given by Whelan and Wohlfeil (2006). The study of Martensen et al.(2007) namely revolves around an event marketing initiative by B&O, in which the company sponsored a series of golf tournaments in Denmark (Martensen et al., 2007). According to Whelan and Wholfeil (2005, 2006) event marketing is differentiated from event-sponsorship in which a company provides funding for an already established experience/event, as opposed to staging it. Therefore, merely the study conducted by Whelan and Wholfeil (2005, 2006) can be considered literature concerning event marketing which makes the existing literature of event marketing very limited.

The discussion above indicates the fundamental values of Brand Activation. The next chapter however will discuss more elaborately the connection of this new construct with the reviewed experiential and event marketing and offers a definition of the construct Brand Activation as used in the current review.

1.3 Brand Activation defined

Driven by the fundamental values of experiential marketing, event marketing tries to create emotional ties through consumer experience by offering brand experience, entertainment and education. One of the upcoming interactive communication strategies within the content of event marketing that increasingly receives attention within the practical field is Brand Activation (lemz.nl, marketingonline.nl). Brand Activation is a relatively new concept within the branding and communication world and the term as such is not recognized in the academic literature (yet).

However this term is making its appearance more often on the web (e.g., adformatie.nl; howtomove.nl; molblog.nl). Furthermore, many advertising agencies (e.g.,Lemz, Compass, Brand activation.nl) are creating strategies to activate the customers of (large) companies such as Unilever (Unox), Sare Lee (Douwe Egberts) and Henkel (Witte Reus) throughout the Brand Activations’ event.

Brand Activation is a new type of event marketing and has its roots in experiential marketing.

This new experiential based event marketing, not only consist as an offline but also partially as an online content and thus can take place for a longer period of time compared to an ‘one time’ all offline event occasion.

Having entered the new millennium; marketing faces an uncertain future (Holbrook and

Hulbert, 2002) as many traditional marketing approaches that were once successful, are no longer relevant (Shaw and Jones, 2005; Schultz, 2001) Thus both the concept and the practise of marketing 10 needs to be refocused (Mc Cole, 2004) in order to discover and meet the needs of the modern market place (Schultz, 2001). One strategy to do so is via Internet (Dennis et al., 2009). Since Internet is both a distribution and a communication channel; this technology has created the opportunity for a range of online brand- customer interactions. These interactions occur during customer activities online such as information search online or online purchase but also when leisure activities take place (Rose et al., 2010).

Looking at the described characteristics of event marketing by Whelan (2006) it is clear that a successful event marketing strategy has to be experience oriented, as it must focus on attracting consumers’ interest by communicating the brands meanings through lived experience. It should promote interactively among consumers but also between consumer and marketers (Whelan, 2006).

The interaction of a brand with its customers via organization’s website online as well as offline, creates possibilities for positive experiences that can lead to long-term relationship building (Rose et al., 2010; Dennis et al., 2009).

The following chapter will elaborate more on the concept of Brand Activation. In order to define the construct of Brand Activation and due to lack of relevant academic literature; two Brand Activation campaigns of two large multinational companies are discussed in the upcoming paragraphs. This will help to, along with the already discussed literature, get a better understanding of the construct as it is used in the practical field.

1.3.1 Douwe Egberts (DE) National neigbours day

From 2006 onward, Douwe Egberts coffee brand organizes the annual “Nationale burendag” (National Neighbours Day) to activate the brand and its customers. This is in corporation with advertising agency Lemz. This marketing campaign has the purpose to activate the brand and its customers. To be precise; “Nationale burendag” allows inhabitants of any street in the Netherlands to participate in a contest with the chance of winning brand related prices, such as a spectacular festive get-together for the whole neighbourhood. This is consistent to the core brand’s value since the value of Douwe Egberts is to connect people. 1 To be precise the objective value of Douwe Egberts is the following;

“Douwe Egberts brand stands for connectedness, sociability, and sympathy”2. Knowing this, all of the marketing strategies around the Brand Activation campaign clearly show consistency with the core brand’s concept. In short; the goal of this campaign is namely to activate the entire neighbourhood to contact one another and make sure that as many people possible will engage and register online

1. http://www.ingezondenwerk.nl/burendagcase/

2. www.de.nl/ burendag and http://www.ingezondenwerk.nl/burendagcase/ 11 to participate. From then on it is up to the participants to make sure they would win the ultimate price by staying active and activating other to do the same.

The Brand Activation campaign is supported by a theme-related website, mailing to 350.,000 DE customers, TVC, 15.5 million theme-related campaign packaging with a unique bar code to enter the competition, banners, in-store campaign and many free publicity (source: press article of Lemz, 2009). Since 2008 an opportunity is being created by Douwe Egberts for the contestants to get financial support. In corporation with the “Oranje Fonds” (Orange Funding) individuals with great ideas on how to connect and improve the neighbourhood can potentially be sponsored to generate their unique ideas. Again, This marketing strategy clearly shows consistency with the core brand values as well as to the brand slogan ( ( the slogan of Douwe Egberts coffee articulates; “good ideas begin with Douwe Egberts”). Ultimately, in 2010 approximately 1.1 million individuals celebrated “Nationale burendag” and a total of 2500 neighbors applied for “Oranje Fonds” to fund their special idea. There are however no other results available, hence no clarification on whether the ultimate goal of Douwe Egberts-creating a stronger image and customer- brand relationship3 is achieved by means of introducing the Brand Activation strategy.

1.3.2 Witte Reus Sport Brand Activation Campaign

Henkel Netherlands, with corporation of advertising agency Compass, started a Brand Activation campaign for one of its detergent brands, ‘Witte Reus’ in 2007. By participating in this campaign, individuals had the chance of winning sportswear for their entire sports team (at a value of 500 euros). The interested contestants were asked to register online and upload a picture of their team.

From then on the participants were responsible for their own success. By activating others to vote on their picture they would have the chance of winning sportswear (with Witte Reus logo) for the entire team. At the end of each week, for the total period of three months, the teams with the most votes were announced as the winners. The concept of the Brand Activation campaign was congruent with one of the main functional benefits of the brand, given that sportswear usually is the type of clothing that require regular washing with a good detergent and as the slogan of this particular brand articulates: “Witte Reus: washes a lot at the lowest cost”4. Main goal of the brand was to create a stronger brand image and customer brand relationship by means of this campaign5 in order to enhance sales in long term.

By discussing the Brand Activation campaigns of Douwe Egberts and Henkel in the previous paragraph, it is clearer to which key aspects a Brand Activation contains. Moreover to get a 3 Marketing manager DE, source: interview with Adformatie www.adblog.nl 4 Wast een berg, kost een beetje. 5 Senior brand manager Witte Reus. Henkel Netherlands. Phone interview better understanding of Brand Activation some definitions of this construct, given by advertising agencies, are described in the next paragraph.

1.3.3 Definitions of Brand Activation given by advertising agencies

Brand base, a Dutch advertising agency which has claimed the website www.brandactivation.nl, gives the following definition for brand activation: “Brand Activation is the seamless integration of all available communication means in a creative platform in order to activate consumers. Activation means stimulating: interest, trial, and loyalty” Lemz6, another Dutch advertising agency which has created brand activation campaigns for Unilever and Douwe Egberts, describes that through interactive brand campaigns customers will sense another kind of experience with the brand which will get the brand closer to its customers, through emotional bonding. In sum, Brand Activation contains a number of key aspects:

i. customers become part of an (inter)active event for a period of time;

ii. customer participation in this event is voluntary;

iii. participation requires some kind of effort for the customers,

iv. the activation takes place in an both offline as well as online environment;

v. the interaction between the brand and its customer is conducted for a period of time, due to the use of internet.

vi. The brand activation starts off with the support of many concept-related marketing tools such as TVC, banners, packaging, website and indoor campaign.

vii. the brand will set up and interact the rules of the game with its customers

viii. From then on, customers will have to stay active throughout the campaign and in order to win they have to activate others as well.

ix. Main goal is the foster a strong brand image and better brand-customer relationship.

x. Brand Activation is an all-encompassing platform focussing on one single brand concept.

To be accurate and to be capable of defining the construct of Brand Activation it is important to highlight the difference with event marketing as both event marketing and Brand Activation are experiential marketing based strategies. Brand Activation has its roots in experiential marketing however due to the consumers’ lack of involvement in traditional communication strategies, rather than telling the consumers how they would experience the brand (as it is conducted in the current literature )other strategies must be employed. Ultimately when experiential marketing is the company’s goal, Brand Activation or event marketing is conducted as the tool. Verschil met 6 www.lemz.nl experience marketing. However there is a salient difference between the two strategies which makes Brand Activation valid for having its own term. Event marketing typically singles out one single event that catches the consumer’s attention for only that particular moment in time. With Brand Activation, consumers are requested to join actively become part of the campaign, stay active for a period of time, and activate others as well with the main goal of building stronger consumer brand relationships and enhancement of the core brand image through the longer period of interaction between the brand and its customers and due to the use of internet this has been possible to realize.

Subsequently, the current review departs from the following definition:

Brand Activation is a new marketing communication tool that encourages individuals to become active with the tendency to offer a new experiential way of dialogue between marketers and brands’ customers. It aims to bring the brand’s positioning to life through an interactive event both online as well as offline for enhancing the image and the customer-brand relationship through creation of positive associations in the mind of consumers.

The description of Brand Activation in this review demonstrated that there are three potential units of analysis that might be strongly connected to each other.

1) The brand,

2) The Activation activities event,

3) The customer.

The subsequent chapter will review these three potential units of analysis. When doing so, the ‘fit’ or the so called ‘congruence’ will be the main focus of review, since it considered as the most influential aspect of brand evaluation (Thorbjørnsen, 2005).

While some literature has investigated the importance of congruence between the brand and its consumption situation (e.g., Jamal et al., 2001; Mehta, 1999; Ericksen, 1996, Birdwell, 1968;

Dolich, 1969), or the brand image and the self-image (e.g., Sirgy ,1982, 1997; Graeff, 1996; Jamal, 2001; Parker, 2009), far less literature has discussed congruence in relation in terms of events that are organized to activate the brand. Potential fits (i.e., levels of congruence) that might be relevant for evaluating the brand are presented in figure 1.

14. Figure 1. Theoretical model

4. Congruity

Congruity is defined as an agreeing fit, match, or being in harmony (Sirgy, 1982). As discussed briefly in the previous chapter congruence is regarded as an important aspect of the theoretical model in this literature review, since it is considered to be the most influential aspect of brand evaluation (Thorbjørnsen, 2005). Potential fits (i.e., levels of congruence) that might be relevant for evaluating the brand after a Brand Activation has taken place are between (1) the customer and the brand, (2) the customer and the event and (3) between the brand and the event. The following chapter will provide an overview of the existing literature on these potential fits and their importance.

4.1 Congruity of Self and Brand (self-image congruity)

Since the 1960’s marketers have become more and more aware of the importance of self image related to the brand image (Parker, 2009). Literature argues that what consumers purchase is potentially influenced by the congruity between the brand’s image and their own self-image (Zinkhan and Hong, 1991). It is a well known fact that consumers not only seek for the functional aspects of a product when they are making their purchase decisions (Ericksen, 1996). Consumers consume products which also show to have symbolic meaning (Holt, 1995). A study by Bhat and Reddy (1998) on examining whether a brand could have both functional as well as symbolic meaning to consumers confirms this notion and concludes that both the brand’s functional as well as symbolic aspects are relevant for consumers. In other words, as buying a product or a brand is a good tool for consumers to express who they are, consumers often buy product which show the most similarity to their own self-image (Graeff, 1996) This results in what is often described as “self-image congruity”. Self-image congruity theory suggests that a mental comparison of the similarities between the self-image en the brand’s image is made by the consumers (Sirgy, 1986; Graeff, 1996; Sutherland, 2004; Parker, 2009).

Self-congruity usually portrays the “match” or “mismatch” of the brand’s image and the self-image.

Core brand evaluation





15. (Sirgy, 1986). The foundation of self-image congruity theory is defined by the image congruence hypothesis by Sirgy in 1982. He describes it “as the similarity, that is the congruence, between one’s self-image and a brand’s image increases, so should the favourability of brand attitudes and hence the likelihood of positive action (e.g. purchase) in regards to that brand” (Sirgy, 1982, 1991 and 1997). The literature moreover argues that as the congruity between the self and the brand increases so will the favourability toward the brand (Graeff, 1996; Sutherland, 2004; Parker, 2009).

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Milk Consumption Patterns

The Food Guide Pyramid (HNIS 1992) recommendation for the consumption of milk or milk products (such as yogurt and cheese) is two to three servings per day. Fat free or lowfat milk and milk products are recommended in order for individuals to meet the Dietary Guidelines recommendation for fat intake of 30 percent or less of total calories. Two servings per day of milk or milk products is appropriate for most young children and adults. However, older children and teens (ages 9 to 18 years), and adults over the age of 50 need three daily servings of milk or milk products. During pregnancy and lactation, the recommended number of milk group servings is the same as for nonpregnant women (USDA 2000).

How are Americans doing in their intake of milk and milk products? An Economic

Research Service/ USDA food supply survey showed that in 1999, the food supply provided 1.6 daily servings of milk or milk products, about three-quarters of the 2.2 serving target for a 2,200-calorie diet. Although food supply data has its limitations, this study indicates that

Americans may not be consuming the recommended number of daily servings of milk or milk products (Putnam 2000). There has been a healthy trend in this country toward reduced consumption of whole milk and increased consumption of fat free and lowfat milk. In the late 1960s, Americans consumed four times as much whole milk as lower fat choices, but by the late 1980s, reduced fat milk outsold whole milk (Putnam 1991) and in 1998, whole milk was only 35 percent of annual consumption (Putnam 1998). Between 1987 and 1990 alone, the sales of skim milk rose from 5.7 percent to 10.3 percent of total sales of fluid milk (Lee 1998).

Along with this healthy trend in type of milk consumed, there has been an accompanying increase in cheese and “gourmet type” ice cream consumption in the U.S. which can increase fat intake considerably. Looking back to the 1950s, we’ve seen an increase in annual cheese consumption of 269 percent from 7.7 pounds to 28.4 pounds per person in 1998. The increased trend toward eating out tends to reduce milk intake and increase cheese consumption (Putnam 1998).

Although consumption of milk products other than fluid milk is not a primary focus of the Mooove campaign, it needs to be noted as a topic of concern to nutrition educators.

Several studies have investigated milk consumption in children, particularly low fat or fat free milk, since these lower fat milk choices are not recommended for children under two years of age (USDA 2000).

In one study of children enrolled in the WIC program, older Hispanic children were more likely than older white or African-American5 children to still be drinking whole milk rather than low fat or fat free milk. The type of milk consumed did not vary with age among the Hispanic children, indicating that the advice to switch older children to lower fat milk is not reaching the Hispanic community (Dennison JADA 2001). Having

Mooove posters available in Spanish and in venues in which Hispanic children and their parents will see them will increase their exposure to this important message.

In another study of WIC clientele, Dennison and associates found that a major predictor of type of milk consumed by children is the type of milk consumed by other family members. Parents or guardians of older children drinking whole milk believed that whole milk is a healthier choice for children, even over age two. In order to change milk consumption patterns in children, it is important to include parents in the intervention to overcome barriers to change (Dennison Prev Med 2001). This should be a consideration in the Mooove campaign.

Why Should People Mooove to Lower Fat Milk Choices?

Milk and milk products are a major source of fat in the American diet, providing 12 percent of the fat in the U.S. food supply in 1990. The overall trend in recent years toward lower fat consumption in the U.S. is reflected in increased use of lower fat milks

(Lee 1998).

Milk is a major source of saturated fat and calories in children’s diets (Thompson 1994). Not only can this contribute to obesity in young people, it can promote development of atherosclerosis, the early stages of which have been found in young children (NIH 1991). Making the switch to lower fat milk can help reverse these trends and promote health in young people. Whole milk has been found to be a major contributor to a high saturated fat intake among Latino children between 4 and 7 years of age. Those in the highest quintile of intake of high fat milk products (mostly whole milk) consumed more than twice as much saturated fat per day as those in the lowest quintile of intake. The researchers concluded that substituting lowfat milk for whole milk would significantly reduce the saturated fat intake of these young people

(Basch 1992).

What are the effects on nutrient intake of using lower fat milk choices? Using

USDA’s food consumption data base, researchers examined energy, macronutrient, and food intake in persons drinking different types of milk. Persons consuming low fat milk tended to consume less dietary fat than whole milk drinkers, which is one goal of choosing lower fat milk. Males, but not females, who drank low fat milk compensated for energy intake by increasing intake of carbohydrates; therefore, the percent calories from fat in their diets was lower. Low fat milk drinkers tended to consume more fruits and vegetables and less red meat and sweets, indicating an overall healthier approach to eating (Lee 1998).

Lower fat intake has been associated with decreased health risks. A recent met analysis of 27 controlled, randomized trials designed to reduce fat or cholesterol intake demonstrated that lower fat diets resulted in reduction of serum cholesterol by an average of 11 percent. Those whose cholesterol was lowered had a lower risk of cardiovascular events and mortality (Hooper 2001).6

Reducing dietary fat and saturated fat can also reduce risk of diabetes. In an intervention study in Finland, incidence of type 2 diabetes was reduced by 58 percent among those who reduced dietary fat and saturated fat, and increased dietary fiber and physical activity. One of the changes recommended was a switch to low fat milk. Those who made these lifestyle changes and lost weight were less likely to have diabetes than those who did not (Tuomilehto 2001).

Children (ages two to 19) who drink fa


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