There’s no bad time to host an experiential marketing activation. That being said, summer may be one of the best times to focus in on event marketing experiences. People are flocking to music festivals, sporting events, county fairs and other outings. Young people with summer jobs have a little extra spending cash. Families are looking to enjoy themselves on vacation, and snowbirds have come back home to spend time with friends and family.

Is your brand trying to come up with a really creative summer experiential marketing event? Here are five great examples. Each is focused on something that immediately comes to mind when you think summer.

Grilling event gets BBQers thinking outside the beef

Grilling is many Americans’ favorite way to cook between 4th of July and Labor Day. Throwing a few steaks or burgers on the barbecue means less clean-up, less heat in the kitchen, and a delicious meal even if you aren’t a gourmet cook.

MorningStar Farms wanted to make sure their meatless products were top-of-mind when grillers visited the grocery store. They ran a three-month experiential marketing campaign called “Good Food for Good Times” that exposed people to their full line of products. They were particularly interested in getting their message out to consumers who were looking for healthy foods to cook on the grill.

The brand organized cooking demos with chefs made famous by Food Network shows. The chefs visited music festivals and other major events, where they worked some of the company’s more exotic products (such as roasted garlic and quinoa burgers and buffalo “chicken” patties) into dishes like quesadillas, salads and breakfast items. Consumers had opportunities to meet the chefs, sample the food, access recipes and win prizes.

Everyone smiles for ice cream

Grilling may be the go-to choice for summer main dishes, but ice cream is the ultimate summer dessert. The British/Dutch company Unilever found a creative way to expose European consumers to their ice cream products (including Good Humor and Selecta) during summer events.

Unilever built a vending machine that dispensed ice cream based on smiles. The machine enticed people over with the promise of a sweet treat, then encouraged them to smile. If their smile was big enough, the machine took their picture and posted it to Facebook, then gave them a free ice cream bar. This “ice cream truck for the modern age” showed up at the Cannes Film Festival and many other events throughout Europe.

Bring out your inner kid at music festivals

For millions of people, summer means music festivals. Besides providing a great opportunity to hear some of your favorite bands, music festivals give adults an excuse to act like kids again.

Adult Swim, the adult series on Cartoon Network, believed they could capitalize on this freewheeling and carefree mindset. That led to a whimsical experiential marketing activation at the Bonaroo Music and Arts Festival.

Adult Swim created a giant planetarium shaped like Meatwad, a popular character from the show Aqua Teen Hunger. Consumers could watch Adult Swim cartoons inside the planetarium, witness a fun celestial slide show, or just take a break from the blazing Tennessee sun.

Cartoon Network also built a game they called “Balloonicorns in Space.” Players put on unicorn hats with pins in the horns. They stood on a stage and jumped up at dozens of balloons inside a net. The people who popped a minimum number of balloons got formal prizes… everyone else got to wear a unicorn hat and take pictures of themselves, which is a prize in itself.

Take the family glamping

Camping is one of summer’s best ways to relax and get back to nature. When GMC launched the 2014 Sierra, they wanted to give journalists a memorable way to learn about the truck’s feature. They also wanted to convey that their pickup truck would help consumers get one step closer to the kind of lifestyle they wanted.

Instead of the typical live drive, when journalists drive the car and get a quick dinner at a restaurant, GMC arranged a two-day “glamping” (glamorous camping) trip. GMC rented out two campgrounds and set up relaxation areas with hammocks, lounge furniture and games. Attendees stayed in Airstream trailers attached to their sample trucks. GMC hosted extravagant farm-to-table dinners at the campground and built a custom bar in the back of one of the trucks.

The event was extremely well-received. And one journalist said GMC was smart to create such an enticing event. Since the truck itself hadn’t changed much, the company might not have drawn as many reviewers without the promise of summer fun and relaxation.

Take your ebook for a swim

When you think summer, you think about swimming… with your pals, your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse, or your kids. You probably don’t think about swimming with your e-reader.

That’s what makes the Kobo’s pool party so unexpected. The electronics manufacturer wanted to prove that their waterproof e-reader really would keep working after it was submerged in water. So they invited publishers, authors, retails and other special guests to a very special pool party.

A synchronized swimming team dressed in the brand’s colors put on a show for everyone in attendance. While they danced in the water, each performer held a Kobo Aura H2O in her hand. After the performance, the company’s CEO gave a speech about the e-reader and the company’s high-tech prowess – all while sitting in an inflatable chair in the pool. Attendees saw that Kobo kept it promise of providing a truly waterproof e-reader, and enjoyed a party they wouldn’t soon forget.

Are you feeling inspired by these cool summer experiential marketing ideas? Let Factory 360 help you ratchet your creativity up a notch. We love putting on our brainstorming flip-flops and lathering up with sunscreen, then helping you plan and execute amazing experiential marketing events. As soon as you get back from the beach, the park or wherever you’re reading this, drop us a line. We’d love to talk to you.

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