Anna Keizer
Apr 1, 2021

The 21 Best Experiential Events of 2021

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Turns out that not even a global pandemic can stop the world of experiential events.

Sure, experiential marketing companies have had to pivot in face of the challenges put forth by Covid-19, but as the following 21 experiential marketing examples demonstrate, this mode of advertising has only become more innovative in response to current worldwide circumstances.

What are experiential marketing events?

As the name indicates, experiential events are events or experiences created by a brand to prompt an emotional connection between that brand and its consumers. So unlike the average television commercial, experiential advertising aims to have the consumer actively interact with some component of the brand. 

So, what are some of the best experiential events of 2021?

When people hear the phrase experiential events, they might immediately think of big gatherings with lots of people—and they wouldn’t be wrong. Experiential marketing campaigns often involve events like pop-up stores or restaurants where groups of people come together.

In the era of Covid-19, that’s no longer the norm. That being said, the following experiential marketing examples show that even while most of the world must remain apart for a while longer, brands can still invoke connectedness and provide unique experiences for consumers.

1. Taco Bell “Taco Gifter” 

We’re kicking things off with a few experiential marketing events that actually began back in 2020 and are still going strong. The first comes courtesy of Taco Bell, which launched its “Taco Gifter” campaign last fall. The general idea here is that even if you can’t enjoy tacos with your friends or family in person, you can still let them know you’re thinking of them by gifting them a taco.

Best Experiential Events of 2021 - Taco Gifter Campaign - Wrapbook
Taco Bell is among several experiential marketing examples where the event has transitioned into a permanent feature of the brand.

2. Stranger Things: The Drive-Into Experience

With movie theaters around the world shutting down for safety reasons, the drive-in movie enjoyed a resurgence in popularity over the last year. And Stranger Things took that idea one step further with an immersive drive-into experience.

Best Experiential Events - Stranger Things - Wrapbook
Courtesy of Netflix, found on Hollywood Reporter

This event also began last fall just in time to celebrate Halloween, but fans of the show can check it out through April 2021.

3. Global Oreo Vault

Familiar with the Svaldbard Global Seed Vault in Norway? The vault was built in 2008 and serves as a last line of preservation for more than one million seeds, just in case plant life on Earth is ever eliminated. But why only survive an apocalypse when you can indulge? The real vault inspired Oreo to do the same, and secure their famed cookies.

Oreo takes matters into their own hands with this very experiential marketing idea. So whether you decide to take a pilgrimage to Scandinavia to see for yourself, you can rest easy knowing that in the event of a global catastrophe your favorite cream-filled cookies are safe and sound.

4. Ben & Jerry’s “Change the Whirled” Ice Cream

Ben and Jerry’s is a brand that has long advocated for social justice, and their partnership with Colin Kaepernick builds upon that legacy. The result? Delicious experiential advertising.

With Kaepernick, the brand has created a new full-time flavor called Change the Whirled with proceeds going to Know Your Rights Camp (KYRC), an organization created by Kaepernick “to empower and educate a new generation of Black and Brown youth.”

5. Chunky Million Meals Challenge

As you may have begun to notice, food brands are behind some of the best experiential events. Among them is the experiential advertising campaign Campbell’s Chunky, which kicked off last fall in partnership with the NFL, Target, the nonprofit GENYOUth and CSL Esports. The brand launched a virtual esports tournament to help raise greater awareness of food insecurity for children in the United States.

Best Experiential Events - Chunky Million Meals Challenge - Wrapbook
The Chunky Million Meals Challenge is one of several experiential events bringing attention to food insecurity in the U.S.

Pairing pro athletes with pro gamers, or gaming for good, hear how they did it.

The finals of this event were held in January and broadcast on the NFL’s Twitch and YouTube channels.

6.  Dole “Malnutrition Labels” Campaign

Campbell’s isn’t the only brand doing its part to bring more attention to food insecurity. Dole Packaged Foods “Malnutrition Labels” campaign is among those experiential marketing campaigns trying to educate consumers on the importance of diet for both physical and mental health.

By replicating nutrition labels via projections on buildings, the brand is helping to create greater awareness of this nationwide issue.

7. White Castle “Slider Lover’s Point” Valentine’s Day Event

As mentioned, Covid-19 has forced brands to rethink their experiential marketing events. Case in point: White Castle.

best experiential events - white castle - wrapbook
White Castle reinvents an old experiential marketing strategy by Covid.

The restaurant chain had one of the best experiential events with its annual Valentine’s Day romantic dinner reservation platform. With indoor dining not an option at the moment, though, the chain took another tactic by making 300 of its locations drive-in restaurants to continue its 30-year tradition.

8. Lexus IS Wax Edition

Not all of the best experiential events revolve around food. In collaboration with musicians Madlib and Kaytranada, as well as Pitchfork, Lexus has created an experiential advertising campaign that vinyl lovers will… well, love. 

Though not for sale, the brand has built a concept car complete with a turntable in its dashboard, (see video below), allowing the artists to craft music that will become available to select members of the Vinyl Me, Please, a monthly record subscription club.

Lexus also teamed with Pitchfork, producing a two-part documentary, Driven by Sound, about this concept car and the artists involved.

9. French’s Mustard “MustSwitch” Sandwich

Okay, we’re back to some of the best food-centric experiential events. 

Next up is French’s Mustard tasty “MustSwitch” campaign, which launched in New York City in March 2021.

Best Experiential Events - French's MustSwitch Sandwich Campaign - Wrapbook
One of the few in-person pop-up experiential events so far in 2021 is the French's Mustard "MustSwitch" Sandwich campaign.

Consumers were encouraged to bring unopened jars of mayo to Craft NYC, the restaurant of celebrity chef Tom Colicchio, and in turn receive a delicious flank steak sandwich complete with French’s famous condiment.

10.  IKEA “FiftyFifty” Digital Card Game

Did you know that March 8 is International Women’s Day? Through one of its experiential marketing events, IKEA is hoping to use the holiday as a springboard for greater awareness of domestic work inequality. The campaign brings to light that women take on three times more work in the home than that of their male counterparts.

The furniture and home goods store created a digital card game for Instagram Stories with the hope that it will encourage conversation around the imbalance of domestic work between men and women.

11.  DoorDash “In the Zone” Campaign

International Women’s Day is part of Women’s History Month, which takes place during all of March. Together with WNBA star Chiney Ogwumike, DoorDash has created a campaign to highlight women-owned businesses through its Made by Women platform.

Best Experiential Events - DoorDash - In the Zone Campaign - Wrapbook
Photo Credit: Door Dash

Like many of the best experiential events mentioned so far, the brand is using its name for social reform and will be supporting leadership programs specifically for women through its campaign.

12.  Blue Moon LightSky “Lighten Up” Campaign

We all could stand to do a little spring cleaning, right? Blue Moon LightSky certainly thinks so. Once of the more refreshing experiential events on our list, the “Lighten Up” campaign launched by the beer company, encourages folks to donate at least six unneeded items—and for their efforts, they’ll get a free six-pack! In partnership with the organization company The Home Edit, Blue Moon asks only that participants on Instagram or Twitter post a pic of their items to get a $15 Venmo payment in return.

Participants will be entered for a chance to win a virtual one-on-one organizing session with hosts and home organizing extraordinaires, Joanna Teplin and Clea Shearer from The Home Edit. 

Best Experiential Events - Blue Moon LightSky Campaign - Wrapbook
A campaign that encourages donations in exchange for free beer and a clean house?

You can read the press release to learn more about eligibility.

13.  Sour Patch Prank Fund

Sometimes the best experiential events can make you not only smile but also pucker. Enter Sour Patch Kids. Because last year’s April Fool’s Day was preempted by the pandemic, the candy brand is hoping to bring it back in a big way in 2021 with its Prank Fund TikTok campaign.

Best Experiential Events - Sour Patch Prank Fund - Wrapbook
Sour Patch Kids is banking on the mash-up between Tiktok and April Fool’s Day for a successful experiential marketing campaign.

Participants will be asked to post their video pranks to the social media channel with hashtags #SourPatchPrankFund and #Sweepstakes to be entered to win both cash and candy prizes.

14.  Mars/Tastemade DIY Easter Videos

Want more candy-centric experiential marketing events? We got them! 

Right on the heels of April Fool’s Day this year is Easter, a holiday that leans heavy into candy consumption of all kinds. Knowing this, candy brand Mars is partnering with Tastemade for a series of Easter DIY decoration videos on Pinterest, to get participants excited for the holiday. 

Best Experiential Events - Tastemade DIY Videos - Wrapbook
Decorating, DIY style, with Mars and Tastemade's virtual experience.

It also may or may not be marketing its Dove Silky Smooth Promises dark chocolate and M&M’s Minis. But we’re okay with that.

15.  Stella Artois “Stella Mutual” Mock Financial Series Company

April has no shortage of important dates or experiential marketing events to go along with them. Everyone knows April 15 as Tax Day—perhaps one of the least exciting holidays on the calendar. But Stella Artois is hoping to change that attitude with its faux Stella Mutual financial services company.

Calling participants “account holders,” the brand wants account holders to share its social media posts, making them eligible for a host of prizes, including cash, pizza-making kits and of course its signature beer.

16.  PepsiCo “Perfect Match” Campaign

Not only did Covid-19 change how experiential marketing events happen, but it also made dating apps that much more in demand in lieu of in-person meet-and-greets. PepsiCo is capitalizing on both trends by creating personal ads that also highlight its new mango-flavored drink.

Calling it its “Perfect Match” campaign, the brand is hoping people will both find love and love its latest beverage option.

17.  L’Eggometer Social Listening Tool

The pandemic has been hard on more than just the dating crowd. Parents around the world have been tasked with acting as de facto teachers for their learning-from-home children. 

In response, Eggo has launched one of the more unique experiential marketing events this year with its L’Eggometer. A campaign aimed at helping parents navigate the stress of getting their kids ready for school each day. 

The campaign includes personalized videos from celeb parents like Melissa Joan Hart, pro football player Mark Ingram Jr., and Shawn Johnson East, former gymnast, as well as other helpful content with advice on diffusing tension and a chance to win free waffles. A solid win-win.

Best Experiential Events of 2021 - Eggo Marketing Campaign - Wrapbook
Eggo is positioning its experiential marketing campaign as a way for stressed out parents to connect

The L’Eggometer is a chance for participants to both connect with others and decompress from the stress of at-home and in-school learning.

18.  Whole Foods Market “Food for Mood” Series

Perhaps another trend you might be noticing among experiential marketing campaigns is brands keying in on the collective anxiety that consumers around the world are experiencing because of Covid-19. 

Well, Whole Foods Market is another brand hoping to mitigate that stress with its “Food for Mood” Series. Through a partnership with the meditation app Headspace, the grocery chain is launching a video series to educate consumers on how their cooking and eating habits can impact mental wellbeing.

Best Experiential Events - Whole Foods Food for Mood - Wrapbook
Mindfulness pairs surprisingly well with food.

You can visit Headspace or head to Whole Foods’ Instagram page.

19.  Driftwell “40 Jinx” Campaign

This year is a big one for PepsiCo with the brand launching not only multiple new drinks, but also multiple experiential events. 

This time, it’s aiming to highlight the new Driftwell beverage by reminding consumers to take a break every once a while from their computer, tablet, television and phone screens through targeted ads that interrupt the viewer’s screen time.

The drink’s purpose is to help with feelings of restlessness or stress, with a focus on the consumer’s nighttime routine. The placement for the ads are peak “unwinding times,” usually right after work or before bed.

20.  Krispy Kreme Sweet Incentive

Covid-19 vaccinations are now available worldwide, giving people around the globe the chance to protect themselves and others from the virus, as well as return to the life we all once knew. 

In celebration of both, Krispy Kreme is providing a “Sweet Incentive” for all of its vaccinated customers. Through all of 2021, the specialty chain is offering a free doughnut to anyone with proof of their vaccination.

Best Experiential Events - Krispy Kreme Sweet Incentive - Wrapbook
Courtesy of Krispy Kreme

In appreciation of the Herculean efforts of the medical community, Krispy Kreme will also be giving away doughnuts to select vaccination centers.

21.  Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit

We saved one of the best experiential events for last! 

As the Krispy Kreme example indicates, the global community is heading towards greater safety for the coming year. But they’re also heading towards, at least a little bit, of normalcy.  Getting together is what experiential events are all about.

What better reason to celebrate this togetherness than in the presence of one of the world’s greatest talents

The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit is—yes!—a more traditional experiential event in that it once again allows for participants to gather to appreciate the artist’s most famous paintings.

Best Experiential Events - Van Gogh Immersive Experience - Wrapbook
The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit is giving experiential marketing participants the chance to once again gather safely for a memorable event.

With full Covid-19 safety measures in place, this traveling exhibit shows that while experiential events never went away, they are finally returning to a much more enjoyed version of themselves.

What are experiential marketing companies?

Even if you’re no longer asking what are experiential marketing events anymore, you might be wondering who creates them. 

Just as these events have multiplied over the last several years, so too has the experiential agency. While brands may have ideas for experiential marketing events they’d like to roll out, they typically will partner with a dedicated experiential marketing agency to expand on those ideas and execute them.

HELO and JN Production are just two examples of experiential marketing companies behind hugely successful campaigns such as that for Headspace and Forever 21. 

As their clients will tell you, an experiential marketing agency is an imperative component of an experiential event, as they understand the importance of not only the key advertising aspects of a campaign, but also the many logistical and safety factors in the age of Covid-19.

Wrapping Up

As each of the above experiential marketing examples show, this facet of the advertising world is alive and well.

Perhaps because of how Covid has challenged our ability to gather in person, it has made the connection and experience provided by these events all the more vital as we move towards a brighter 2021. 

If you’re considering putting together a live marketing event in the near future, we’re here to help you with the minutiae of that process. Learning the best practices for how to run payroll for live events, as well as what each state requires for hiring and paying locals, can save you a ton of time and energy.

Reach out to us if you have any questions on hiring and paying your crew.

Disclaimer

At Wrapbook, we're all about providing the very best free resources to producers and their crews. However, this post is not a substitute for professional legal advice. Answers do not create a company-client relationship, nor is it a solicitation to offer legal advice. Seek the advice of a licensed attorney in the appropriate jurisdiction before taking any action that may affect your decisions or rights.

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About the Author

Anna Keizer

Anna Keizer originally hails from the Chicagoland area. After receiving her B.A. in Film/Video from Columbia College Chicago, she moved to California and finished her M.A. in Film Studies from Chapman University. She has also graduated from UCLA’s Writing for Television Professional Program and is currently in post-production on the short She Had It Coming, which she wrote and is executive producing.

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