What is Experiential Marketing: 5 Movie Examples

The movie industry has always leveraged cutting edge marketing tools. From fan magazines of the 30’s and 40’s to social media today. But that’s not the only way that films use marketing. The industry also uses marketing in their films too. Countless films have ad advertising or marketing execs as main characters’ jobs. Who could forget Matthew McConaughey as fast-talking Benjamin Barry in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days?

Photo opportunity with the Hop bunny mascots (April 2011)

But what about experiential marketing? One of the most common questions we’re asked: what is experiential or event marketing? The textbook answer: a marketing strategy that engages the consumer to experience a brand. But what does that mean? What better way to answer this than to look to Hollywood for examples from movies. Because who doesn’t love a good blockbuster!


First up is What Women Want (2000) with Mel Gibson playing an advertising executive. He and his co-workers are given a box with various items that need promoting. In an effort to understand these items better Mel Gibson’s character sets out testing every single product. The clincher? All items would fall into the category of feminine products; pantyhose, hair mousse, etc. The point however, is that he experiences each and every one of the products as he tries them on allowing him to truly understand the product itself, as well as the brand behind it.

Coppertone sampling at David Pecault Square (Toronto, ON June 2016)

What do the films The Five-Year Engagement (2012) with Jason Segal and Emily Blunt and Chef (2014) with Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara and Robert Downey Jr. have in common? If you guessed food trucks, you’d be right! Food trucks are relatively new to the marketing stage. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, food trucks are experiential marketing. What better way to get the product (in this case food) to consumers than to take it mobile and go where ever consumers are. Genius! From full meals to sampling, food trucks cover all the bases of experiential marketing and the immersive experience.

The Jam Van was turned into a dorm room complete with video games for Disney’s Monsters U (Toronto, ON June 2013)

Next up, a little bit of girl power. When promoting a brand/product, agencies tend to go very linear with their campaigns. But never was there a better example of thinking outside the box or immersing the consumer in a brand than the Oscar award winning, Spiceworld (Just kidding about the Oscar). Featuring the 90’s pop group, Spice Girls. The idea for the film is rumoured to have originated with the girls themselves, which just goes to show that branding has been around a lot longer than Instagram. A 93-minute interaction with a consumer is unheard of in marketing, but in 1997 that’s what was achieved with this film. To put this in perspective, in this fast-paced world, marketers have seconds to make an impression with a consumer whether on a billboard or a commercial, so 93 minutes is an eternity. (It was also probably an eternity for any parent who had to sit through the film with their children.) Spiceworld grossed $77 million at the box office worldwide and over $100 million in DVD sales. This may seem like a small amount compared to what today’s CGI blockbusters bring in but considering the film was pretty much just a commercial for a product, that’s pretty amazing!

hanging out with some eye candy with Trojan in Toronto, ON (June 2015)

Lastly, we have Friend’s With Benefits (2011) where we watch Mila Kunis’ character convince Justin Timberlake’s character to move to New York. Selling New York and all it has to offer, Mila Kunis’ character highlights the classics with the likes of the Brooklyn bridge, street food, sweeping vistas atop a building and lastly the marketing execs hub, Times Square. Where flash mob dancers perform the subliminal classic, New York, New York. This would definitely be categorized as experiential marketing with the characters experiencing and immersing themselves in the brand, which in this case was New York City. Especially, with the use of flash mobs having gained in popularity the last few years and the rise of viral videos. It’s the perfect combination for an immersive involvement with a brand.


At the end of the day, experiential marketing is anything that allows the consumer to get one-on-one with a brand. It’s the up, close and personal for consumers and brands. And why does this work? Because it’s authentic and not to mention shareable. According to an EventTrack 2016 Survey, 98% of consumers create digital or social content during events or experiences and of those consumers, 100% share that content. It’s easy to tell a consumer through a TV spot that something tastes or smells good but how to get them to believe it? Create a scenario that allows a consumer the opportunity to try the item themselves at a pop-up mobile marketing vehicle. And when a consumer finds out for themselves that a product tastes/smells/or is as great as the ads say it is? That’s how you build brand loyalty with consumers coming back again and again. Which is why all marketing should include an experiential component.

To find out how Jam Van can help you add an experiential element to your next campaign, reach out to us at 416-203-2375 or email info@jamvan.com.

Trying out “Martian Food” for The Martian in Toronto, ON (September 2015)

Back To School: A Marketer’s Perspective

By: Gary Francis

For as long as I’ve been a “student” of Jam Van, back-to-school (BTS) has been a key time to connect with consumers. September is the new January, a time of year when people focus on getting back to work after the holidays and set their sights on achieving their personal and professional goals. Students are no different. From those enrolled in preschool through graduate school, BTS is a time to re-affirm ambitions and reset goals.

BMO Mortgage Cross Canada Campaign (Calgary 2015)

As a marketer, I feel this is a good time to establish new connections with students and use the opportunity to build brand connections and trust; especially as we move towards the winter holiday season. However, for optimal business results, I feel brands need to shift their timing to connect with students from the month or sometimes two before school starts – what is typically called BTS “season” – to once school begins.  In a 2016 study conducted by the National Retail Federation, only 15 percent of college shoppers – including students and parents of students – completed their BTS shopping by early August. Additionally, survey participants who had not yet completed their shopping were asked which shopping categories the remaining items on their lists belonged. For college-aged consumers, 61 percent needed to still purchase school supplies, 50 percent clothing and 33 percent personal care items. While many consumers shop early, millions of others shop late, and there are also those who spread out their spending for school-related purchases throughout the year. So while BTS retail season serves as a key time for brands to connect with students, drive brand messaging and execute sampling and trial initiatives, for their valued products and services, the focus and attention should be extended or better yet, re-marketed during to further brand loyalty and trust with students the month(s) before the winter holiday season. There is a tremendous opportunity for marketers to continue messaging and promoting products, building brand loyalty and trust with students in the months leading into the largest consumer spending season – the seasonal holidays.  

Estee Edit for Estee Lauder (Toronto, ON July 2016)

Why change:

Despite the seismic changes in consumer purchase behavior, many brands, organizations and key-stakeholders such as retailers continue to hang onto the old paradigm that reaped them millions and remain tied to calendar milestones i.e. spring break, summer, BTS and winter holidays. The fact is students today can’t be fit into a neatly closed box, as they vary in age, interests, reasons for going to school and rationale for buying. Therefore, it’s important brands are able to serve students’ needs at different times of the year as it relates to school. Although I certainly see a real value in redefining the marketing cycle, focused on more year-round efforts rather than BTS. I feel it most prudent to recommend to brands, to make only a minor adjustment in how they plan and market during the months between BTS season and the winter holidays to reinforce positioning, offerings and trust. The goal is to stay invested and “needed,” in the minds of students during these key purchasing cycles.

Having fun with Sugar Bear and Sugar Crisp (Toronto, ON, October 2015)

The retail world is in a state of constant change.  As such, so should brand strategy and lessons learned. Ironically, it would only require a little more planning, not additional spending to necessarily sustain and reinforce value. Brands who leverage this marketing strategy will surely reap millions from saved monies, not having to discount their products to persuade their hard-earned customers to come back.

Summer Fresh on the Move in Toronto (September 2017)


By: Jennifer Chan

What a summer we had at Jam Van for 2017! Our cross-country tour with Motrin was a major hit. As mentioned in the article, “The Johnson & Johnson brand is touring popular races and marathons to help boost unaided awareness.” (http://mediaincanada.com/2017/05/30/motrin-targets-women-at-their-pain-points/) The campaign ran through May and June with a Motrin-branded Jam Van travelling to four different markets in Canada. For those of you not familiar with the pharma brand, the company is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, with medication that targets pain and fever relief. In order to educate consumers about the brand, its uses and benefits, drive trial to sales, and brand affinity, J3, J&J’s in-house marketing agency, chose Jam Van, with nearly 20 years of experience in mobile exhibit executions.

Shoppers Run For Women at Edworthy Park in Calgary, ON (June 11, 2017)

Motrin offers a wide variety of options for consumers to handle their pain. Shoppers have access to Motrin Tablets, Platinum Muscle & Body Caplets, and Liquid gels to provide families with products to help them feel better and make the most of every day. Motrin is committed to helping consumers push through pain and continue with their busy, active lives. Targeting headaches, fever, sore muscles, inflammation, joint and back ache, sprains and strains, and menstrual cramps.

Signing up and receiving Motrin back packs Calgary,
AB (June 2017)

This was the fuel in creating the Unstoppable campaign targeting the women who are the engine that keeps everything going. In their careers and families, mommy groups and social networks, their energy radiates and is infectious. They’re busy and they love it. They treat decisively, live dynamically, and refuse to let pain put their life, or the lives of those they love on hold. The Jam Van group created an interactive and unique marketing experience at events and local hotspots, included incentives, savings, and trial, leveraged mobility and eye-catching elements to attain maximized outreach.

Motivating athletes with positive messages! Toronto, ON (May 2017)

A Jam Van was fully wrapped in bright orange, while the interior was full of décor that offered an inviting and comfortable space to relax after a race. Branded drawstring tote bags, water bottles, and coupons were given away but the highlight of the set-up was the floral backdrop photo opportunity. A unique structure behind a podium allowed runners to capture a memorable take-home photo that commemorated the event. In addition, yoga mats and foam rollers for post-stretching were well-received.

Post race photo ops in Calgary, AB (June 2017)

The activation visited Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, and Vancouver, participating in several sporting events including: GoodLife Fitness Marathon, Run for H20, Color me Rad, and Shoppers Run for Women. Scheduled locations included hotspots, fitness clubs, and parks such as Trinity Bellwoods Park, Yonge and Dundas Square, Parliament Hill, Stephens Avenue Walk, Eau Claire Market, Seawall, Coal Harbour Quay and Sunset Beach Park. These carefully scouted areas aligned with our strategies to reach the right demographic and accomplish key objectives for this campaign. Combining Jam Van street parking permit expertise and event sponsorship allowed the team to be successful.

Post race Recovery Zone in Ottawa, ON (May 2017)

The biggest challenge when developing and executing a concept for a pharmaceutical company are the regulations surrounding the marketing and distribution of medication. The legalities are long winded and require a large of time and manpower to cover every rule in the book. An issue we had with driving experiential was being unable to deliver physical tablets on location. However, many consumers were just as happy to fill in their information for a trial to be sent directly to them.

“Oddly enough, while I was in the hospital Motrin is all that would work for my pain. Even worked better than percocets, which I know sounds weird. I was just grateful not to be in pain.” – Andrea, 27

“I saw you guys yesterday at the marathon and took pictures to send my friends. I wanted my friends to see what I needed after the run and you were all there.” – Marcus, 45

One stop Recovery Zone on-board the Jam Van in Toronto, ON (May 2017)

It was only natural for pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson to join partnership with experiential marketing agency Jam Van Inc. in making this campaign as successful as it was. Together, this mobile pop-up can reach almost 1 million consumers across Canada. Jam Van has optimized their expertise in OOH media advertising to bring the Motrin brand to four major markets. If you are interested in mobile experiential marketing, we can customize a program to suit your personal brand.

Eau Claire Market in Calgary, Alberta (June 9, 2017)

Smoothies + Freezing Rain + Mobile Stage = Top 200 Billboard: A How To

Think our math doesn’t add up? Think again.

When you have a band as great as Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker (USS) whose dedication to their fans is untenable it’s a no brainer. Wanting to give back to their faithful followers, Ash and Human Kebab along with their record label, Coalition Music, came to Jam Van to design an interactive experience to promote their new album, New World Alphabet, being released January 13, 2017.  The strategy was simple: travel around Toronto doing pop-up concerts on the street connecting with as many consumers as possible.

New World Alphabet Album Cover (January 2017)

The result was using the Jam Van as a mobile stage with the band performing new songs from the album as well as old hits to groups of fans who came out in freezing rain and below zero temperatures just to see their favourite band. The campaign included full billboard media branding on the outside of the Jam Van and targeted key hotspots that matched the demographic. USS also handed out ramen noodles at a few locations. However, the big hit came with smoothies made by the band itself!

Lining up at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON to see the pop-up concert (January 2017)

Surprisingly, there are still companies that question experiential marketing and Out of House Marketing. Wondering how to make it work or conform to their antiquated and often outdated rules and guidelines based on decades old data that no longer apply in today’s fast-paced technology driven world. Budget conscious clients will trim OOH first not realizing how valuable the experience of getting up close and personal with the consumer can truly be.

Handing out handmade smoothies to adoring fans. (January 2017)

New geo-targeting technology as well as social media are leading OOH and experiential marketing into a new era. Shaping the horizon of the entire marketing world. Being able to go where consumers are is a tremendous advantage. The fear of missing out leads the consumer to want to try anything from virtual reality to augmented realities.

Mobile concert hall, fan meet-n-greet, and food truck all rolled into one activation! (January 2017)

Everyone loves being handed free smoothies but who wouldn’t love being handed a free smoothie made especially for them by their favourite band member? As the crowds back in January attest, lots of people appreciate it. It also helps having a client like Coalition Music and the fantastic guys of USS who were open to all ideas. Over the course of two days 15.3 million impressions were generated using the hashtags #USSNWA #USSday. Along with national media coverage on CP24 and 102.1 The Edge. The basis of the whole campaign was thinking outside the box and utilizing tools that only an experienced agency would know. USS hit #2 on Top 200 chart and #3 Top 200 Billboard.

Still think the math doesn’t add up?

Coalition Music Case Study (January 10-11, 2017)



Will Awareness Equate to Dollars?

By Viktor Arzethauser, Senior Account Manager

So you’re in the planning stages of an exciting new product launch. Research & Development have spent the past 5 years developing an innovative new product and now it’s time to build a 360 marketing campaign concentrating on awareness. Or is it?

Awareness can be a subjective term and is thrown around all too often as a KPI for CPG. Sure, you want your target demo to know all about your sexy new offering, but is just knowing about it really enough? Will they even care? While likes and shares look great on a client report, what weight do they really carry when it comes time to actually move product off the shelves?

Awareness is just the first phase of the consumer journey, so why not focus on the end goal, the mecca of CPG – the shopping cart.  Now I’m not saying awareness doesn’t have its place, but awareness for awareness sake is missing the mark and a somewhat irresponsible use of resources and budget. From its core, the marketing strategy should work in tandem with the sales strategy and “awareness” campaigns should engage consumers in a way that feeds the sales funnel.

Krave Jerky mobile sampling in Vancouver, British Columbia (November 2016)

As marketers, I think we often miss this point and may ideate evocative, beautiful and even award-winning campaigns, but if the sales aren’t there to back up the product, it may not live to see the shelves of next year and the budget allocated for your campaign will be diverted elsewhere in the next fiscal. In this regard, it behooves us to think like sales people and filter the data through the eyes of a marketer.

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with the GM of one of Toronto’s most prolific mid-sized agencies. Over the past few years they’ve acquired a number of smaller boutique shops with competencies ranging from packaging design to shopper marketing, in order to offer clients a complete 360 sales strategy, not just one-off marketing campaigns. Her biggest challenge right now is increasing the connectivity between the various departments in order to create all-encompassing strategies that utilize every facet of the business. While obviously beneficial to the agency, clients also see the benefit to their businesses as it offers an holistic approach to developing strategies that engage consumers at every touchpoint throughout the sales journey.

Product sampling for LCBO at TURF festival (September 2016)

Obviously not all agencies have the luxury of a robust menu of competencies, but often there are additional resources at your disposal, you need only ask. While you may be working with your clients’ marketing department, why not get input from the sales, R&D or other pertinent teams as well? Maybe there is something in their long-term sales plan or research done during product development that offers an insight that may completely change the focus of your strategy, which will in turn help you create a successful campaign.

At the end of the day, a collaborative effort will almost always trump a siloed attempt. I will admit that there are times when you’ll run into a “too many cooks in the kitchen” situation, but if navigated correctly, the input of an eclectic team towards one goal will create something that will put real dollars into your clients’ pockets which will then, in turn, end up in yours.

Nordstrom experiential campaign to promote store opening (August – November 2016)

How to Best Market and Sell Music

By: Sabrina Paniccia

Who has the answer to this one?  With the vast amount of marketing and advertising agencies available to music studios, there are many ways to accomplish this task. Frankly, I personally don’t think anyone has the ultimate solution to this.  I think we’re all attempting to achieve THE answer, but we can only base this answer on each of our individual experiences. This is mine.

Music sales campaign, experiential marketing
Universal’s Canadian Music Celebration at Elvis Festival in Collingwood, ON (July 28-30, 2017)

I have been working for Jam Van for five years, an experiential marketing agency in Toronto, that has worked closely with the major record labels for many years.  I can honestly say I’ve seen a lot of changes happen in a short period of time.  When it comes to music marketing, many efforts have been put forth to achieve the height of sales that most artists had before the Internet and streaming. Times have changed and the music industry has evolved. Selling music, whether through CDs, iTunes, etc. has become much more of a challenge. With Napster and LimeWire long gone, the industry now faces new trials, or successes with partners and competitors, like Apple Music and Sirius Satellite.  Free downloads and streaming continue to be a possibility with the availability of the Internet. When one application shuts down, 10 more pop-up.  Technology has played a huge factor in affecting what goes on the radio.

Mohawk College Student enjoying a Pop Up Concert from USS (Coalition Music)

Marketing and advertising are the usual immediate solutions. Street teams still linger; although, most have turned into large XM initiatives, that reach further consumers and are able to focus on more niche target demographics.  The question remains: is there one preeminent approach to marketing and selling music? The answer to a category that keeps changing – I can only give you my opinion, based on what my experience has taught me. Just to give you a quick look at what Jam Van has created in the past, here are a few examples:

Pop Up Music Shop for Warner Music Canada at the Canadian Country Music Awards (September 2017)

I mostly enjoyed working on Jam Van campaigns because of my passion for the entertainment industry, the fast moving pace, ever evolving campaigns and the excitement that only an experiential marketing agency can offer.  From my expertise, here are some tips on marketing and selling strategies for the music industry:

(L-R) Jam Van’s Jennifer Chan and Duane Jackson with Serena Ragogna of Ole Label Services

1.  Timing is Everything:  Set up the release of the album on the day of the artist’s biggest upcoming concert, or opening act – With all the hype surrounding the concert, not only would sales see a significant jump, but the artist would receive more public exposure.  To piggyback on this – release the album in CD and vinyl format before the digital release date (This would intrigue the devoted fans to purchase the CD right away, which is worth more value to the labels.)

The Human Kebab of USS “crowd surfing” with fans (Coalition Music)

2.  Contesting:  Always run a contest for a meet-and-greet – Fans always want to meet their idols. Giving fans this opportunity creates a much more memorable experience.   

Tegan & Sara (Warner Music Canada) at the 2016 MMVA’s
Tegan & Sara (Warner Music Canada) included a social media contest to win swag and merchandise

3.  Reasonable Pricing:  Keep the prices AFFORDABLE and REALISTIC – Overpricing gets you nowhere (I relate this to the tale of the Tortoise and the Hare – slow and steady wins the race, so does fair and realistic).

Vinyl Merchandising at Field Trip Music Festival

4. Target Appropriately:  Stick to your target demographic – Don’t over reach.  Just because you have two pop artists doesn’t mean they draw in the same crowd – One could be a younger generation and one could bring in an older generation. (eg. Backstreet Boys vs. One Direction).

Hashtag Printer used for Stompin’ Tom Campaign (Ole Label Services)

5.  Get Digital: Find creative ways to digitally market to millennials, but also design unique programs geared towards an older generation.

The #USSDay Pop Up Concerts (Coalition Music) included a social media campaign

6.  Bring Talent on Board:  Whether it be a meet and greet, or an entire surprise pop up concert, nothing generates excitement and attention like bringing an artist to fans via a mobile pop up stage!  Autograph signings are also a great way to drive sales.

Olly Murs Autograph Signing on Board the Jam Van

7.  Be Inquisitive:  Always ask yourself – Who’s spending the money? The Kid? The Mom & Dad? Grandma?  Is this THE answer to our burning question, give it a try and get back to me!

To discuss any music marketing and sales campaigns, please reach out to info@jamvan.com