‘Didn’t want to launch a traditional experiential activation’: How Bombay Sapphire tweaked its approach to experiential marketing this holiday season

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Throughout the holiday season, retailers like Macy’s and Bergdorf’s have traditionally attracted New York City shoppers with intricate window displays. This year, Bombay Sapphire took that same approach with its own holiday window displays created in partnership with up-and-coming artists across empty storefronts in downtown Manhattan. 

Doing so is a way for the brand to get back to experiential marketing. Since the on-set of the pandemic, marketers have had to adapt their approach to experiential marketing and find new ways to give consumers a memorable experience without gathering indoors. 

“Because of the uncertainty around COVID, we didn’t want to launch a traditional experiential activation,” said Jaime Keller, brand director for Bombay Sapphire. “The storefront windows allow[ed] people to interact with the brand in a safe manner outdoors.” 

To create the windows, Bombay Sapphire worked with experiential agency The Gathery, visual artist Shavanté Royster and fashion designer Romeo Hunte to create this month in SoHo that syncs with the brand’s “Stir Creativity” creative branding platform. The windows feature a “snowy dreamscape” backdrop designed by Royster and fashion by Hunte created specifically for the displays.

“This year, to bring people together and support the creative community who have been deeply impacted by the pandemic, we’ve shifted our strategy to focus on intimate, smaller-scale events that hero emerging and underrepresented artists who need support now more than ever,” said Keller. 

Keller continued: “This experiential strategy allowed us to communicate our ‘Stir Creativity’ platform and support emerging artists in a manner that allowed us to weather any changing restrictions or regulations.” 

It’s unclear how much Bombay Sapphire is spending on experiential marketing now or what the brand plans to spend on experiential marketing going forward as Keller did not disclose those figures. Per Kantar, Bombay Sapphire spent $147,615 on media during the first nine months of 2021. Those figures exclude spending on social channels as Kantar doesn’t track spending on social media. 

As brands tweak their approach to experiential marketing, moving away from large scale events to more intimate experiences or outdoor efforts for passerby like that of Bombay Sapphire, they will need to do so in a way that’s meaningful for consumers, according to agency execs. 

“Will people remember?” said Duane Brown, founder of performance marketing agency Take Some Risk. “If they are getting people to share it on social media then I can see it having value. If they can make people look forward to them next year like the department store one’s…. that’s the sweet spot.” 

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