The future of experiential marketing – could it be Satanic Polish heavy metal?

Satanic Polish heavy metal.

Not something our clients immediately think of when they say ‘innovation’, to be honest. 

Anyway. Behemoth, a rather blasphemous band from a country with rather strict blasphemy laws, held a ticketed livestream event earlier this year: In Absentia Dei. Documented in and around a consecrated church, it was less a gig, more an unholy sermon of cinematic proportions.

Drones captured footage outside the church. The band rode horses all slow-motion, Wild West-style in prerecorded shorts. There was fire… everywhere. A performance artist, suspended by hooks in a Jesus Christ pose, hung over Behemoth as they rattled through an evil ditty your mum definitely wouldn’t call music. Oh, you could flit between cameras throughout the show, too. 

It was proper immersion – you were dragged into their world of jaw-dropping, hair-raising, Satan-hailing art. And it just would not have happened without coronavirus. Behemoth would have been on tour otherwise.

When the world opens up again, the arts and events will be gasping for air, peddling various wares across the world in an effort to claw back however much time, money and momentum the pandemic ends up costing them. 

But is that the end of livestreaming? Hopefully not. 

Of course, when you buy a ticket to a Marketing Week event in the flesh, you’re not going to get the post-pandemic Mark Ritson hook suspension virtual extravaganza. You’re going to get a Marketing Week event, and it’ll be brilliant. 

And that’s the thing: the interactive, customisable element of livestreaming is a special sauce that just can’t be replicated in a physical space. So don’t try. Live events be live events, but streaming – that still deserves a seat at the table. A means for people to engage, the way they want to. 

It doesn’t all have to be Luciferian litanies and drumsticks made of human bones – pop star Dua Lipa spent $1.5 million on her all-singing, all-dancing experience, which broke global livestream records with five million viewers (but to be honest, not many musicians have a million quid to spare). On the other end of the scale, UK theatres have admirably hauled their catalogues online, with the National Theatre, the Globe and Soho Theatre now offering affordable subscription services.

The entertainment industry has been completely reimagined by coronavirus, and of all its various facets, it seems to be music – the sector that’s got pretty much no money left, especially when held against the early 2000s CD boom – that’s taken the torch and turned it into a bonfire. 

When you think about experiential marketing, trade fairs, keynote speeches – there’s so much scope for exploration. The answer probably won’t be found in a song called O Father O Satan O Sun!, though. 

But it might be.