Think Like Mark Cuban: Why Experiential Is the Future of Your Advertising Spend

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“I am anticipating the explosion of experiential entertainment.” - Mark Cuban 

Mark Cuban is not easily fooled. Week after week on the hit ABC show “Shark Tank,” viewers have become accustomed to watching Mark raise a cautious eyebrow and actively pass on any number of poor investments presented to him by eager and optimistic entrepreneurs with the well-known and resolute “I’m out.”

Mark has, however, invested a number of successful ideas from a number of savvy and prepared investors, including a $2mm investment in 2014 in a Haunted Hayride production that has since expanded from Los Angeles to New York and created a horror film-themed campout, appropriately dubbed The Great Horror Campout. Cuban’s investment was the largest amount of capital invested by any of the Sharks in the show’s history.

The producers of Haunted Hayride and Great Horror, Ten Thirty One Productions, are part of the new school of the Experiential class, taking classic couch activites (like horror films, for instance) and bringing them to life in real-world environments. They leverage digital channels to sell tickets, drive sales, and market their product successfully. They’re drawing on the post-modern appreciation of familiar archetypes presented in exciting new ways.

If you watch this episode of Shark Tank, you’ll hear Cuban excitedly proclaim, “people want to get outside, they want to get off the couch” before committing to his $2mm investment. This sentiment is really the core principle of contemporary experiential, and while media planners might be expecting to hear people like Cuban preaching the investment gospel around categories like content hubs, media platforms or editorial sites, let’s be honest; media and content have become oversaturating and ever-present in every facet of our lives.  

Cuban’s investments in experiential marketing companies like Ten Thirty One are based on the tacit (yet widely-held) understanding that paid media can only go as far as the screen-time that we, the consumers, give it. It’s the understanding that families and individuals alike are becoming increasingly aware of the effects that constant virtual consumption, swipes, and clicks are having on our ability to experience much of anything.

It’s important to note that Cuban’s investment in Ten Thirty One productions was not an anomaly, but rather a trend. Months later in April of 2014, Cuban secured a 25% stake in yet another Experiential Marketing firm to the tune of $1.75mm. The Great Bull Run and Rugged Maniac are separate experiential events, led by founders Bradford Scudderand and Rob Dickens. The Great Bull run brings the magic of Pamplona, Spain’s infamous “running of the bulls” to the United States, while the Rugged Maniac replicates the formula of similar group obstacle courses like Tough Mudder.

So What Does This Tell Us About the Future of Experiential Marketing as a Media Category?

Virtual and digital technologies will continue to evolve and grow their presence within our lives, and as they do, savvy investors like Mark Cuban are anticipating a continued upswell in consumer appreciation of unplugged, real-life marketing efforts. The rise of music festivals, community events, and success of events like the Haunted Hayride are indicators of our reawakened desire to connect with the world around us without an intermedium or digital barrier.

Here at Digital Surgeons, we’re no different. We’re a human-powered company with technology in our DNA, and we see the increasing consumer demand for experiences as an opportunity for us to help our roster of clients create one-of-a-kind Experiential marketing platforms that accompany the full scope of media, technology, and social components of a successful campaign.

Learn how we can bring your brand to life with our experiential offerings.  

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