Last week, our team did three things we haven’t done in almost a year: fly on a plane, stay at a hotel and produce a kick-ass brand experience. With an array of new safety protocols in place — including negative COVID tests all around, daily temperature checks, and close collaboration with our COVID Compliance Officer — producing a safe socially-distanced event at the height of the pandemic went off remarkably seamlessly. Here’s what you need to know about producing live brand experiences during a pandemic.
Outdoors is safest. Outdoor events are obviously the safest for social distancing—and it’s totally possible to come up with interesting and creative ways to leverage these spaces safely. In recent months we’ve seen the rise of drive-through experiences such as Netflix’s Stranger Things drive-through sets and our own recent Vans Anderson .Paak immersive car wash. Expect to see more in-car experiences as winter weather sets in.
Increase your reach. Activating a safe socially-distanced event means fewer people will be able to experience it, so brands will need to be more strategic about who they invite. Consider prioritizing media and influencers who can increase your reach and drive ROI. Including a digital component or livestream will allow you to further extend reach and provide a connected experience to consumers who are unable to attend in-person.
Invest in safety. Whether producing an event in-house or through an agency, one key to success comes in the form of a relatively new role: the COVID Compliance Officer (CCO). The CCO sets and enforces safety protocols from load-in to load-out. While the CCO can be almost anyone with proper certification and a strong background in production, we strongly recommend that you hire a neutral third-party who can objectively go toe-to-toe with guests, agency and brand teams to ensure that proper safety protocols are followed.
Account for the human factor. Unfortunately, we’re living in a time where public safety has been politicized. Don’t assume that everyone will share the same point of view on safety. Bring in your brands’ HR team early in the process to ensure that you’re keeping to the same guidelines used internally at HQ and retail locations. Plan ahead to communicate these requirements to all of your vendors, and have them commit to your protocols before you award them the work.
Continue to push creativity and innovate. During the pandemic, we’ve seen brand experiences adapt from purely virtual to intimate outdoor experiences. We’re in a really exciting time as consumers start to expect more out of these experiences. That craving for something new is going to drive an evolution where the digital and physical experiences become more connected. The biggest opportunity for brands going forward is to find ways to merge these two spaces to create the truly mind-blowing phygital experiences of the future. We can’t wait to produce them.