Head of Brand Experience at John Doe Celine Khor shares her insights into what makes brands – and consumers – tick, and why.

Decent Exposure

We are a communications agency. Our job is to make noise about a product, a campaign or an idea for our clients. Traditionally that was executed through PR but increasingly we integrate experiences into our campaigns to bring the consumer or the media closer to the brand.

Brands are trying harder than ever before to make something bespoke and innovative for consumers. The more curated the experience, the better. My role involves figuring out the mechanics behind bespoke journeys and takeaways and creating immersive moments that people can engage with.

Our work for the AW 18/19 collection for Dr. Martens last year is a personal highlight. Not only do I love the brand, I really enjoyed the challenge of getting 60 tired journalists excited about being on a Dr. Martens journey with us for a couple of days. They see collection launches time and time again so we were determined to do things differently. We built huge sets to bring the collection to life, creating design and prop-led immersive experiences and a journey through the styles and themes of the collection. Subcultures were referenced through a live tattoo parlour where you could get your shoes inked, a hairdresser giving mod re-styles and listening booths spinning tracks from the likes of The Who and New Order. These moments created loads of opportunities for fluid and natural interaction, networking and discussion.

A desire for authenticity and emotional connection is paramount. Younger consumers in particular are tribal, and despite fewer boundaries, they still want to know that they belong. Tapping into the right tribes with the right message is key.

There’s no single way to deliver a message. At John Doe we tailor our approach to the audience and deliver it in the optimal form – be that PR, social media or experiential events.

Marble LDN has always been a preferred go-to partner for production, events and design. We’ve collaborated on projects for clients such as Martell, and have further work in the pipeline.

In the past, experiences with intangible or harder to measure results were first to go if budgets were cut. Today, the value of investing in these areas is unquestionable. Even though it’s still hard to measure emotional connection to a brand, it’s now a given that creating an emotional connection is important, and important to do well. In the longer term it will pay dividends.

Data is huge. Companies such as Butterfly London gather data from global markets to tell brands if they’re on the right track, offering insights and recommending relevant integrations. We’re also keen to keep working with companies such as music app Dice – the data they have is incredibly useful in terms of targeting specific sub-genres and groups.

These trends towards hyper-customisation and bespoke experiences will last well into next year. I’ve not seen anything else just yet that’s made me think it’s the next big thing. We thought that VR would be the way forward but I don’t feel it’s quite had its moment yet, perhaps because it’s not as affordable as it might be.

The bottom line is that it’s all about smaller, targeted, niche activations. Good exposure is better than a lot of exposure nowadays.