Inspire your marketing strategy with this list of 25 creative offline marketing examples. Featuring examples from Facebook, Starbucks, Nissan and more.
In the 1990s, online marketing—the practice of driving actions on the internet—exploded. Marketers suddenly found themselves in race to optimize and outcompete with banner ads, search engine optimization, social media, retargeting and a slew of other digital marketing channels.
While online marketing isn’t going anywhere soon, offline marketing—formerly known as just “marketing”—has had a recent resurgence.
According to the Event Marketing 2018 Report, 95% of marketers agree that live events provide attendees with a valuable opportunity to form in-person connections in an increasingly digital world.
Of course, live events are just one form of offline marketing. Other types of offline marketing include:
- Billboard ads
- Live demonstrations
- Guerilla marketing
- Direct mail
- Print Ads
- And Weather Simulation Rooms (More on that in a minute)
We have compiled a list of 25 creative offline marketing examples from a wide variety of leading brands to inspire your marketing strategy.
To learn more about how you and your team can unleash the power of offline experience, download the Moment Marketing Ebook.
1) 2014 Winter Olympics - 30 Squats for a Train Ticket
As part of the 2014 Winter Olympics Sochi promotional campaign, a special train ticketing machine was built in the Vystavochnaya station, west of Moscow. Passengers could save a buck for their train ride by doing 30 squats in exchange for a free train ticket. This was an attempt at promoting an active lifestyle as well as the upcoming Olympics event amongst commuters.
Main Takeaway: Everyone likes free stuff. But you can always give your audience something to do before they can receive that prize. It can make your your marketing campaign more fun and memorable.2) IKEA - Inspiration Boxes
Source: Marketing Mag
In Montreal, Canada, there is a specific day dedicated to moving houses for the residents. IKEA, the mega furniture store, has always supplies free IKEA-branded moving boxes. But in 2014, they decided to innovate on the current campaign by designing theses free moving boxes as actual-sized replicas of IKEA furnitures. Montrealers were able to move into their new home and then test out IKEA products before committing to a purchase.
Main Takeaway: Sometimes, you don’t need a new marketing campaign, you simply need to revisit an old or current campaign and give it a new splash of creativity to kick it back into high gear.
3) Burger King - McWhopper
Burger King conducted a daring guerrilla marketing campaign by unexpectedly offering a truce with McDonald’s to support a non-profit called Peace One Day. Burger King took out a print ad in the New York Times with an open letter to the McDonald’s CEO and also bought billboards next to the McDonald’s restaurants to publicly offer a collaboration with them. The campaign took McDonald’s by surprise and McDonald’s actually turned down the offer. But the campaign generated a significant number of fans who followed an online instructional video by Burger King to create and share content of themselves eating a self-made “McWhopper”.
Main Takeaway: Consider ways to leverage your market share leader or competitor’s brand name and popularity.4) Starbucks - Loyalty Rewards Program
Source: Business Insider
Loyalty Rewards Programs are a dime a dozen these days, but the program at Starbucks really stands out from the rest. Customers can earn stars for purchases at Starbucks coffee outlets. These stars can then be used in exchange for free drinks in the future. As they continue to do so, they can unlock free drinks and other perks. Taking this to the next level, the program may offer free drinks to delinquent customer. The end-result is a full-funnel customer retention initiative.
Main Takeaway: While investing in attracting new customers, don’t neglect opportunities for retaining existing ones. As the adage goes: It’s a lot more expensive to find a new customer than it is to keep the ones you have.5) PepsiCo - Nationwide Blind Taste Test
Source: Juice Box Interactive
Since the dawn of time people have debated one question: Coca-Cola or Pepsi? In the 1980s, Pepsi entered the soda market against the market leader, Coca-Cola. As part of this aggressive their aggressive entry strategy, the brand launched a nationwide blind taste test with both products. Incredibly enough, consumers were picking Pepsi over Coca-Cola by a significant margin. Pepsi touted the results across the country and generated enormous publicity from it. Subsequently, the Pepsi brand saw a huge spike in their sales.
Main Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to go toe-to-toe with competitors, especially if your brand is a newer entrant in a particular market.6) Fox TV - A Living Poster
Source: US Magazine
To promote the new show, The F Word, the marketing team at Fox TV peppered an interactive posters throughout the streets of Los Angeles. As unsuspecting people walked by, Gordon Ramsay (the show’s host) spoke to them through the poster. The interactive poster was built with a video camera and microphones for passers-by to see and converse with Chef Ramsay in real time.
Main Takeaway: Incorporating different digital and technological influences in your offline strategies can be effective ways in engaging your audience. Especially if it’s novel.7) Tomorrowland - Invitations Sent Through Treasure Chests
Customers are often the best ambassadors for a brand. Consider Tomorrowland, an annual music dance festival held in Belgium that is easily one of the biggest electronic dance festivals in the world. Tickets are sold out year after year and mailed straight to the doorstep of the registrants. The “tickets” are wristbands packaged in an extravagant treasure chest. The feeling of exclusivity along with the extravagance of the chest entices many attendees to film and share videos of the unboxing online with their friends and family.
Main Takeaway: Give your consumers something to feel proud or exclusive about, and they’ll return the favor through through their own promotion.8) Minnesota State Fair - Bingo Cards
Source: River 105
Bingo cards are making a comeback. You heard that right. At the 2017 Minnesota State Fair, organizers encouraged attendees to explore different stalls and participate in different activities by providing them with a bingo card that they could mark off for each completed action.
Main Takeaway: You can gamify an offline experience in many different ways, not just using by using bingo cards. Whether it’s through a scavenger hunt, a business card rase, or networking bingo—event gamification can help drive audience engagement.
9) 20th Century Fox - Revitalizing Age-Old Advertising Platforms
The marketing team behind 2016’s Deadpool movie took a unique offline angle by putting the film’s titular character front and center in the ads design and tone. They launched a series of campaigns that channeled the character’s infamous 4th-wall-breaking irreverent humor. One of these campaigns involved billboards that spelled “Deadpool” in a...creative way. Soon the billboard made the jump from offline to online to become a viral sensation.
Main Takeaway: Don’t overlook conventional or “out-of-trend” methods as lost causes. Even the most tired marketing channels can be approached in unique ways.10) Virgin Atlantic - First Class Park Bench
For one experiential marketing campaign, Virgin Atlantic placed a First Class Bench in Manhattan in an attempt to recreate the experience New Yorkers would have when flying with Virgin Atlantic. When passers-by sat on the bench, they were greeted by air stewardesses offering them lunch and champagne, while the “in-flight” entertainment was recreated with live performances.
Main Takeaway: Sometimes, your audience may not be able to physically demo or experience your product. Use offline methods to bring that experience to them instead.11) Alibaba Group - 11.11 Gala
The 11th of November is known as Singles’ Day in Mainland China where people celebrate their time of singlehood. But the Alibaba Group has marketed and turned it into a global online shopping festival with massive discounts similar to that of Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the US. To further boost and market the online festival, the Alibaba Group kicks off the event with a grand and star studded concert. In 2017, celebrities including Nicole Kidman, Pharrell Williams and Maria Sharapova were present to help start the celebration.
Main Takeaway: Even a primarily online event and experience can be further marketed with the help of offline marketing tactics.12) Ben Sherman - Nicked!
During the 2010 New York Fashion Week, Ben Sherman set up their Soho New York location to have shirts hanging outside their window ripe for the taking. As passers-by slowly swiped the free shirts one by one, the public started to realize that it was all part of Ben Sherman’s offline marketing campaign. About 600 shirts were taken with a tag saying “Nicked! From Ben Sherman Soho NYC. But you are forgiven (Just this once).” This offline publicity stunt generated a lot of buzz around Ben Sherman during the fashion week.
Main Takeaway: Take note of the timing of your marketing campaigns and see if they align with other festival or occasions which can further boost the impact of them.13) Facebook - Facebook IQ Road Show
Facebook is well known as a social media platform but its appeal to agencies and businesses (sometimes controversially) is its large compilation of data from users across both Facebook and Instagram platforms. In an attempt to personally introduce mid-level agencies to the data and insights they provide, Facebook organized a road show that featured activities in addition to one-on-ones with Facebook leadership. They combined their data with third party research methods to showcase a wide variety of insights including statistics like “when new moms are most active on the social media platform”.
Main Takeaway: Data is typically just a number until someone gives it meaning. Facebook decided to bring their data to life. Whether your brand deals with data or something else, it’s possible to implement events showcase your product offering in a creative way.14) Refinery29 - 29Rooms
29Rooms is Refinery29’s interactive art museum which the brand organizes in different cities at different times of the year. It showcases 29 rooms of interactive art for attendees to explore, take pictures and experience with their friends and family. Each room in every exhibit is curated by a different organization or artist every-time. They have partnered with musicians, artists, companies like Casper and Dyson, as well as celebrities like Jake Gyllenhaal.
Main Takeaway: Experiential campaigns don’t need to center around free giveaways or stunts. Sometimes it’s enough to create something that embodies your brand and invite your audience to explore it.15) Coca Cola - 2012 Olympics Sponsorship
Coca Cola strikes back. The Olympic Games is one of the biggest events for marketing in the world. Coca Cola was reported to have sponsored an estimated $100 million to be the main sponsor for the 2012 event. This put their brand logo next to almost every marketing collateral or print ad that the Olympics created for the event. The sponsorship deal allowed Coca Cola to leverage on the popularity of the international event and market itself to viewers and fans worldwide. In this particular case, Coca Cola first sponsored the Olympic games in 1928 and has announced their continuous partnership till 2020.
Main Takeaway: Sponsorship isn’t cheap, but when strategically chosen, it can greatly amplify the reach of your brand.16) Glossier - Summer Friday Showroom
In 2015, online makeup and skincare brand, Glossier designed a floor of its Manhattan headquarters as a temporary retail showroom. The space was opened every friday till the end of summer. The space was carefully curated to look as beautiful as the brand’s instagram feed. The founder, Emily Weiss, was also quoted saying that the space was meant to be “a giant mood board for the company we’re hoping to build.”
Main Takeaway: Use offline events as a way of expressing your company’s visions and values to your customers. Consumers appreciate an intimate relationship with the brands they associate themselves with and commit to.17) Dohtonbori Okonomiyaki - Fast Food Aid
Source: Fast Food Aid
A key differentiator for Dohtonbori Okonomiyaki, a fast food brand based out of Japan, is serving “healthier” fast food. Building on their positioning, they designed and launched a pop-up store called Fast Food Aid. The concept was simple, exchange a receipt from a fast food place and you’d receive a customized bottle of supplements that will replenish the nutrients you lacked in your last fast food meal. This campaign aimed to bring awareness to the lack of nutrients in most fast food options as compared those served in Dohtonbori Okonomiyaki, which retains the nutrients from its sourced ingredients.
Main Takeaway: Be creative in how you educate and bring awareness to your target audience. Nobody wants a lecture, but a little education can go a long way.18) Nissan - Scent Marketing
Source: Air Aroma
The competitive nature of the automotive industry pushes every company to innovate and compete in differentiating themselves from each other. In 2014, Nissan worked with Air Aroma, a leader in scent marketing and fragrance systems, to create their own unique Nissan scent. The scent was then used at their trade shows, in their offices and rolled out to Nissan dealerships worldwide. The goal was for customers to immediately recognize Nissan even before they see it, using their sense of smell.
Main Takeaway: Engage the senses. Look, feel, sound and even smell within the organization’s control can be leveraged to create a one-of-a-kind brand experience.19) Arnsdorf - Temporary Concept Store
Arnsdorf, an Australian fashion brand, held a temporary pop-up store to market their Opticks Collection. What set this pop-up store apart from the rest was how Amsdorf decorated it with 154 pairs of nude-colored tights stretched and wrapped around the entire space. While the concept sounds silly, the finishing result produced a magical effect.
Main Takeaway: When faced with a tight budget, experiment with creative materials. An offline event doesn’t necessarily have to be an expensive and extravagant one. Work with what you have and make your event stand out in its own way.20) Tesla Motors - Test Drive Center
Source: Marketing Interactive
Tesla’s aim is to revolutionize the auto industry by producing electric vehicles for the masses. To help them achieve this mission, Tesla built a test drive center in Hong Kong which also had small exhibits to showcase the materials and parts that go into building a Tesla model. Customers could see and feel the materials used for the Tesla models before the final product hits the market.
Main Takeaway: Sometimes, letting your customers know more about your process in making the final product is useful in promoting an interest and leaving an impression. Offline marketing campaigns don’t always have to revolve around your end-product.21) McDonald’s - Cardboard VR Headset
Source: Happy Goggles
The McDonald’s Happy Meal is known for the toys that comes along with any purchase of it. As part of their efforts to ride the augmented reality and virtual reality wave, they designed the Happy Meal boxes with specific dotted lines for it to be folded into a Cardboard VR Headset similar to the Google Cardboard. This new contraption, dubbed the Happy Goggles, provided the experience of VR to any customer who had a smartphone.
Main Takeaway: Be it VR and AR or something entirely different, it’s worth keeping tabs on the latest tech trends. VR isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of burgers, but McDonalds has proven that it’s possible to make a connection.22) TopShop - VR Live Stream
Back in 2014, TopShop was one of first fashion brands to use VR livestream technology as part of its marketing campaign. At their Oxford Circus outlet in London, the brand stationed five Oculus VR headsets. A select few customers were donned the headsets and experience a 360 degree panoramic view of the London fashion runway show in real-time. In addition to the runway show, the users were also treated to behind the scenes footage from within the experience. The use of VR technology in the fashion industry in this instance was one of the first of its kind.
Main Takeaway: Do not be afraid of trying new ideas even if they haven’t been done before. Who knows, you might actually start the next marketing trend for the rest of the industry!23) Globetrotter - Weather Rooms
The European sporting equipment company, Globetrotters, sells a variety of heavy-duty sportswear for consumers to use in harsh weather conditions. To showcase the usefulness of their apparel, Globetrotters installed a weather room in one of their shops to simulate extreme weather conditions like -30C temperatures, harsh rain and storm-grade winds. Talk about try before you buy.
Main Takeaway: Letting your consumers demo or experience your product first hand can elevate the credibility of your product.24) Adidas - Jump with Derrick Rose
Source: Gute Werbung
Derrick Rose is an NBA Player known for his impressive leaps that he takes on the court. To mark the opening of their Derrick Rose Jump Store in London, the store placed a bunch of Derrick Rose signature Adidas sneakers on a 10-foot shelf. Customers were given the opportunity to jump and reach for these shoes. If they managed to swipe the shoes, they could bring them home for free.
Main Takeaway: This event is an example of mixing different strategies into one offline marketing campaign. In addition to partnering with a famous athlete, Adidas made a fun and interactive event for customers to participate in. Try to create a new and memorable experience using different facets of engaging marketing strategies you’ve found.25) Red Bull - Flugtag
Google the world “flugtag” and the first thing you’ll find is a marketing campaign by Red Bull. Flugtag is German for "flight day", or airshow. Red Bull has created a quite a stir around this phrase by way of their cmapig for competitors to push homemade, human-powered flying machines off a pier over a body of water and attempt to fly as far as possible. It is a high adrenaline and high energy offline event that aligns with Red Bull’s brand of being high energy and creative.
Main Takeaway: Whatever your brand is known for, there’s a creative way to own it in offline experiences. And it may involve homemade human-powered flight machines.
Wrapping Up: Your Offline Marketing Campaign
Offline marketing offers a unique way for your brand to engage prospects, delight customers and differentiate your brand from the rest. The sky's the limit, especially when it comes to flugtag. You may also be interested in check out these B2B Event Marketing Ideas or the Corporate Event Ideas.