As we approach the final stage of our trawl through the experiential alphabet we arrive at ‘X’ for ‘X-Factor’. Thankfully not the sole preserve of Saturday night TV talent shows, the Oxford English Dictionary defines this elusive attribute as “a noteworthy special talent or quality”.

In experiential, as elsewhere, the ‘X Factor’ can mean the difference between the merely good and the great. But what makes an execution – whether it’s a live activation, social media engagement or attention-grabbing stunt – stand out?

Here we explore 7 examples (including some favourites that have graced our recent i-Spy blog postings) that stand out for us and identify why we feel they have the X-Factor.

1. ‘Ship Your Pants’

Based around an obvious double entendre, this viral for US department store Kmart’s home delivery service is toilet humour at its most overt. It’s also the 37th most shared ad of all time. While protest group One Million Moms called for its banning, it netted 15 million YouTube views cutting through the proverbial to deliver the ‘we ship everything that isn’t in store’ message simply and effectively. Offensive or not, it certainly has the advertising X-Factor.

2. ‘Dumb Ways to Die’

This is a public safety video developed for the Australian railway operator Metro. Risking controversy by addressing a very serious subject using humour, its catchy ‘ear-worm’ tune and deceptively innocent visuals are tailor made for the YouTube generation. It earns its X-Factor status by daring to be different, clocking up 80 million views and, crucially, contributing to a decrease in accident figures.

3. ‘TNT Belgium’ launch

The TNT channel turned an event into a viral sensation when it used an action packed stunt to launch its cable network in Belgium. This carefully choreographed series of dramatic sequences, unexpectedly played out amongst shoppers, was a sure-fire social media success thanks to its apparent spontaneity which created a genuine feeling of surprise. By dint of being eminently shareable, highly watchable and a local and global success it earns itself a large tick in the X-Factor box.

4. ‘EMart Sunny Sale Campaign’

Korean retailer EMart used sunshine and smartphone technology for this lunchtime shopping campaign. In a 21st century re-imagining of the sundial, shoppers were encouraged to seek out a 3-D QR code that could only be scanned between the hours of midday and one o’clock – when the sun’s shadow completed it. Phone users who found it were offered a 25% discount if they made an immediate purchase. Ingenious, simple and responsible for an upsurge in lunchtime sales, the X-Factor marks the spot.

5. ‘TED 2014 – Social Soul’

TED (technology, entertainment, design) is all about bringing thought leaders and ideas together. This execution promotes the new airline offering but does it subtly within the wrapping of the immersive experience and the context that it sits in. Equal parts art installation and functioning social networking tool, this is perfect marketing for our age and a brilliant encapsulation of the spirit of the TED convention. The fact that it allows the audience to feel as though they are discovering something rather than being sold to makes it a ‘no brainer’ for X-Factor nomination.

6. ‘Melbourne Remote Control Tourist’

This activation for Tourism Victoria used the crowd-sourcing trend to a whole new purpose. Would-be visitors were invited to explore Melbourne from the comfort of their computer by ‘directing’ a team of ‘tourists’. Using real-time Facebook and Twitter messaging, users had a unique and custom made opportunity to get under the skin of a city synonymous with quirky individuality. Streamed live via a dedicated website, this 5 day event fulfilled 3,000 unique requests from virtual tourists and saw 4 physical sightseers cover a total of 107 actual kilometres. With a global reach of 150 million people there wasn’t even a remote chance this one wouldn’t make the list.

7. ‘Photoshop Live –Street Retouch Prank’

This witty video manages to be both niche – showcasing photo manipulation by Adobe Photoshop – and, thanks to its hidden camera comedy value, universally appealing. As an example of ‘prankvertising’ it was perfectly pitched to appeal to early adopters, fascinated by the technology in play and general social media users who enjoyed sharing its gentle humour. Created for Adobe Nordic to coincide with last year’s ‘Creative Now World Tour’ event in Stockholm, its X-Factor attributes were confirmed when it clocked up 13 million views in just one week.

You may also be interested in :

A-Z of Experiential Marketing: W For Word of Mouth

London Hotspots: South Bank

Photo Blog: Finland

I-Spy: Reflection Field at Coachella Festival

Want to read more of our A-Z of Experiential Marketing posts? You can now download and keep A-N as a PDF ebook.

Or select another of the posts from the on-going series to view online:

Audience | Brief | Content | Digital | Engagement | Fun

Global | Hindsight | Insight Journey | Knowledge | Logistics

Mobile | New | Old | Product Launch | Q&A | ROI | Social Media

Target Market | User Experience | Venues | Word of Mouth | X for X Factor | Y for Youth | Z for Zeitgeist



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