Ian Irving: Who’s your biggest fan?

Are you willing to embrace “fandom”? Ian Irving, co-founder and director of agency Albert, questions which sector will think long-term and connect with their core audience through brand-owned experiences…

The concept of a permanent, fully immersive brand-owned experience is not a new one. For many years there have been brand owned, permanent experiences that have wowed audiences around the world – think of The O2 Arena, Disneyland Florida (and Paris), The Guinness Storehouse and the abundance of whiskey distilleries and wineries around the world  – and even The BBC Television Centre.

However, I think that the positive move by so many marques in the automotive sector to create such experiences is really setting a new standard and proving to be hugely inspiring. There are of course some absolute stunners such as Mercedes World, The Porsche Museum, Citroen’s showrooms on the Champs Ellysee and now the A40’s very own Audi Quattro Rooms. The sector has truly embraced fandom and is looking to create more than a retail experience by taking people on an emotive journey through the heritage of its brands and products. It has sought to embrace the fandom of its consumers and give them that little bit extra.

Obviously this is easier done by brands that have a tangible product that a fan can actually engage with using all of the senses – such as cars or a food and drink product, but brands like O2 seem to have ensured that experience is everything – even if the consumer cannot physically touch the product. The consumer still knows that it is very much in a space owned by the brand and of course it offers interactive experiences that include the products and services of the actual brand.

So who’s next? Will we see broadcasters opening their doors to the public, bringing their programming alive? Will we see clothing and fashion brands creating in-store experiences? Will we see “smoothieville”, “jeans land” or “watch world”?

What is totally clear is that this is not a territory that is exclusive to any one market, and more and more brands are seeing the power of getting into the hearts and minds of consumers by creating a live experience that ensures fandom, advocacy and long-term connections with their consumers.