So, the 121st Boston Marathon happened yesterday, and if you’re not from Boston, you should probably know, it’s one of the most important days of the year. Typically, there are over 32,000 runners from just about every country in the world and nearly everyone in the city has the day off. This year, 94 different countries are represented in the marathon and the weather couldn’t have been better for one of Boston’s premiere annual celebrations.
Now, since the bombing in 2013, Marathon Monday, now known as, “Patriot’s Day,” here in the Commonwealth, is a state-wide holiday. Most businesses have it off and let people enjoy the Marathon, The Red Sox and the usually good weather.
And while people are still running the Marathon, today was no different. I took a few hours off in the middle of the day to go down and encourage athletes from all over the world as they turned the corner from Hereford St. onto Boylston, the final sprint towards the finish line. I was actually at the perfect corner to catch all the action.
And having lived in Boston for three years now, I’ve never been to a Marathon Monday. I’m really not one for crowds, but today was different, with my girlfriend’s sister running the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton, MA to Boston. It was mostly sunny today, with a high of about 72, and dipping down into the low 60s into the late afternoon, but besides the good weather, what I saw today was absolutely amazing.
I saw vets with one leg running longer than I’ve ever imagined myself being able to run. I saw mothers and fathers pushing their paraplegic family members 26.2 miles, I saw people holding flags from just about every country I’ve heard of, and I also saw Bostonians and other New Englanders cheering on complete strangers in the most un-Boston thing I’ve ever seen.
People were actually being nice to each other.
It was an amazing thing, truly. And I’ve heard people talk about how, ‘Patriot’s Day’ is one of their favorite days in the year to be in Boston, and today I saw it. With an amazing vibe of encouragement, pride and true sense of community. And to me, that’s what living and being part of Boston should always be like.
This speech kinda sums it up, so I’ll just leave this right here…
Ok, now onto the advertising stuff….couple things I wanted to touch base on.
Why was that? Is it now an off-limits affair since what happened in 2013? Why are brands are now staying away? With John Hancock, Adidas and Sprint being the only exceptions, why was there a major lack of sponsors there? Maybe I just missed it, or maybe marathons simply aren’t a place to activate. Either way…it was interesting.
Take for instance, I was at the Providence, RI Marathon last spring and there were PLENTY of brands who were there activating, albeit guerrilla-style….but still. Had a thought about that today.
Personally, I was severely disappointed in the official Boston Marathon app to track runners. The system they’ve had to “update” you where your loved ones are is ‘ok’ at best, but there should really be a push to improving that app for next year. It was clunky, without real time tracking (not even sure how that would be done, actually) but the RFID tag updates could have been much better.
Looking at you, John Hancock….come to us in the summer and maybe we can produce a better version for 2018.
Without a doubt, brands are rapidly finding out the power of experiential marketing. And while guerilla marketing is influential, in-your-face and much cheaper to do a lot of, digital experiential is quickly changing the tide.
Brands are allocating more money to more powerful experiences at concerts, festivals, conferences, events and anywhere else they know their consumers will be. In this day and age, it’s all about brand authenticity and ‘capturing’ your potential clients, as opposed to flanking them with a plethora of advertisements.
Which brings me to my next point…
Why is that? Brands and products know there is more competition than ever before in today’s bustling economy. So, for leading brands to stay on top, a new buzzword has been conjured and pass around since 2016. And that’s, “Brand Authenticity.”
What does it really mean? It means exactly what you think it means. Brands are in a. race to come across as ‘authentic’ as possible. They want to appear like they genuinely know their consumers, and to do that, they are allocating more money to be directly in front of them like never before – and that should be great news for consumers, who now have more of a voice than ever (through social media) when it comes to influencing those companies.
The big buzzwords over the past two year have been virtual and augmented reality. With a slew of devices and companies jockeying for pole position, the competition is leaving consumers in a better position than ever.
That being said, brands are still figuring out when and how to implement augmented and virtual reality experiences. There’s been a solid number of activations and experiences since 2014 even (see here), but as an agency who’s developing AR/VR experiences on a regular basis, there’s two things brands and agencies who get these AR/VR RFP’s seem to be missing.
First off, custom VR experiences can take a whole lot of digital development…meaning, it can take months to put these things together. Secondly, it’s expensive. Clients, partner agencies and brands beware, VR can be totally amazing (if done correctly) but the time and money must be taken into consideration if that’s the route you truly want to go.
Now, are you still reading? Are you a brand, client or agency (Inphantry works with all three!) who’s looking to bolster their digital services? Maybe you’re interested in partnering up for a VR or AR experience or even app? Then, drop us a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get chatting!
See you out there…be sure to follow us on Twitter too @Inphantry