What is the future for face-to-face engagements?

Tamsin Ackerman

What is the future for face-to-face engagements?

When the first national Lockdown hit, experiential advertising was forced into an about-turn – with face-to-face opportunities impossible, brands moved to digital activation to connect with audiences. After a year-and-a-half of restrictions, the UK is returning to some semblance of normality. But what is the future for experiential advertising? Activation Account Director Tamsin Ackerman explores the merits of real world brand engagements.

2020 – the year carefully considered brand plans were thrown out of the window and we all learnt to adapt (quickly…with a side portion of ongoing flexibility making sure we were reading the nation and adhering to ever changing restrictions).

For those brands where product trial and engagement were still key objectives, we were able to implement integrated plans which mirrored the changing shopper behaviours, trends and mood of the nation.

On-pack promotions, digital engagements & shopper marketing activations (both on and offline) saw a rise. But of course, experiential & sampling campaigns took a back seat, the question now remains, will they and should they make a come back?

Whether it’s a fully branded event, a sampling campaign or a pop-up, real-world brand engagements have so much potential to deepen relationships, cut through and enhance a moment. From the conversations we’re having with Clients to the social and industry trends we’re observing, there’s a lot of interest in face-to-face activation as social restrictions lift.

Five reasons to invest in face-to-face activation now:

  • With the rise of on-line trolling, savvy compers and spammers trying to access Client data and hack social platforms we still lean back on the merits of face to face, where clever placement allows you to talk to and reward real consumers, introduce the brand to real people (the right people) and create advocates, all while generating brand assets which can be used as media property elsewhere.
  • Taking on board the principles of behavioural economics we can’t underestimate the power of social proof – yes you can pay a celeb to use your product but with an increasingly marketing-savvy audience in play there is still value in being seen in the real world, being used by real people, showing your faith in the touch, feel, quality of your offering. This is especially important for our amazing food and drink brands that, once trialled, really do change shopper choices. We know trial drives purchase.
  • Our role in activation is to make the most of that f2f engagement for our Clients, delivering multi-sensory brand activity that immerses consumers in a product experience, delivers key brand messages, adds real value to our audience and prompts change in attitude and behaviour. You also can’t underestimate the power of real world listening and product trial to steer NPD and brand plans.
  • Uniquely, at Bray Leino we work within an integrated Agency delivering brand engagements, something that enables us to deliver on-brand campaigns that add value at the right time and place in the brand’s journey. We acknowledge that integrated marketing campaigns and brand engagements that work holistically as part of a bigger plan or platform deliver more ROI and should absolutely be the plans we put in front of our Clients.
  • A final word: we miss seeing you, we miss rewarding you, we miss hearing you – bring back real world brand engagements!

Tamsin has been working in the world of Activation for over 10 years, highlights include running Wrigley’s largest ever on-pack promotion, delivering behavioural change festival campaigns for WKD, helping Jager to stand out in the on and off-trade and guiding Rodda’s to make the most of new and evolving digital shopper platforms. She’s passionate about understanding the people behind the consumer – adding real value at time of need - and using data to drive brand plans that result in action.


Read about how we quickly turned planned real-world activation into digital experience for Barilla, and ran an on-pack promotion for Golden Wonder which gave the locked-down consumer the joy of Deliveroo. For more information on how we can drive success for your brand through activation, contact Sharzeen Aman, New Business Manager.

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