It goes without saying that live events and experiences have had a rough go this past year and a half. But as a collection of eternal optimists, we here at FG|PG believe that the business of crafting “experiences” of all types is headed into a new era of reinvention and growth. In fact, many believe this could be the “new roaring 20s”, and we agree.
As we look to our near future, it’s easy to draw parallels to the 1920s. Much like 100 years ago, the US is slowly emerging from the impact of a global pandemic, with the pent-up demand for living life again making the simple joys of life that much more special. It’s been well documented that in the 1920s, emerging from the similar social distancing guidelines and economic impact, there was a joyful exuberance of “getting back to normal”. But that wasn’t the whole of it. Timing played a huge role in the social mindset that powered the last “Roaring 20s”.
As an agency that has been crafting experiences of all types for 20 years, the cultural timing aspect of where we are today is of particular interest to us. Looking backward helps us to better understand the opportunities to innovate on how brands deliver “experiences” in all their forms moving forward— leveraging cultural timing while blending physical, digital, virtual, hybrid, and content to engage emotions and amplify brand love.
Culturally, the 1920s were the dawn of a new era of innovation. Electricity and the internal combustion engine, which were invented in the late 1800s, had finally reached a tipping point (and price point) where they would impact manufacturing, productivity, and everyday lives. Radio was a magical new form of entertainment, as were motion pictures. Brands like Ford, General Electric, and Westinghouse enabled Americans to make urban housework easier and empowered them to explore the wider world around them as a form of escapism and entertainment. Optimism for a new type of “life” was embraced by the young and old alike.
So here we are in the middle of 2021 and just like 100 years ago, people of all ages are desperate to get back out into the world. We are ready to vacation, go to concerts and festivals, have dinner with friends— and simply live our lives. Once again, there’s a wave of transformative technology that will impact the way we work, play, and live our everyday lives. Whereas the assembly line transformed the workplace and ushered in the 5 day work week in the 1920s, Zoom and other video conferencing platforms have proven that remote work is possible. This will have a transformative impact on where and how people work and play— and over the next decade, potentially opening up more hours in each day for people to consume entertainment and experiences.
Today, we have our new versions of “electricity and the internal combustion engine” poised to amplify the “new roaring 20’s”. Where radio and motion pictures were the entertainment innovations of the 1920s, today we have Netflix, Spotify, TikTok, and podcasts. Artificial intelligence and platforms like Alexa, Siri, and many others are making everyday life easier. Virtual reality, augmented reality, voice assistants, and virtual experiences are poised to become a normal part of how we escape, are entertained, and informed. Electric vehicles and batteries are here to stay, transforming the auto industry and countless other sectors. And 5G will soon find its full stride, enabling the dream of autonomous vehicles to be realized, and live events to be blended experiences thanks to the power built into every mobile device.
So what does this mean for brands and the desire for people to consume “experiences”? If the first “Roaring 20’s” gave us flappers, speakeasies, jazz, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, crazy stunts like wing walking, and new cutting edge products like radios, washing machines, and the Model T— history teaches us that people will expect innovation to intersect with entertainment in ways that engage emotions and elicit joy in all its forms. And expectations will be higher than ever to get it right.
For brands, this creates a massive opportunity to find an authentic connection to what their consumers want, need, and now expect. Culturally, this is the moment where brands have the near-term opportunity to simply amplify the things people have put on hold while leveraging innovation and creativity to stand out. Long term, we believe that most experiences will have a hybrid aspect to them— blending the live physical experience with virtual engagement of varying degrees, and thoughtful content planning. The brands that leverage an “Experience First” approach to how they spend their budgets will ensure the critical human element to engaging their target isn’t an afterthought. “Story Mapping “how” a brand, its message, and its purpose are consumed and shared across all mediums will be as essential as “Story Giving”— giving people unique stories they are eager to share on their own. Ultimately, whether it’s a B2B event, music sponsorship, pop-up shop, virtual platform, or unique content series, the experience brands intend to have consumers “feel” will live at the center of the strategy.
In this unique moment in time, as we begin to truly come back to enjoying live experiences once again, brands will win by simply being a thoughtful part of the exuberance of being back. Behind the scenes, those in the sponsorship space have already seen a massive uptick in sponsorship sales for music festivals and sporting events. And across the industry, brands of all types are already engaged in the planning and creation of fully hybrid live B2B conferences and B2C experiences scheduled starting in Q3 and going full steam into Q1. Despite the ever-nagging question of whether Covid-19 will have a comeback or not, they recognize that timing is everything. Much like during the original Roaring 20s, this time around, the competition to participate in the experience economy and tap into the pent-up demand born out of the last year will be for those who are strategically fearless and bring on partners who have the ability to plan for everything, be nimble, and pivot if necessary.
As a group of “Experience First” Marketers, we at FGPG are excited to help our clients leverage this unique cultural moment. We’re energized by the new briefs and opportunity to redefine what “experiences” look and feel like. After a year of developing our own innovative Virtual IP with help from one of the top digital agencies in the industry, our unique blend of Experience First creative and strategy, in-house fabrication and production excellence, and virtual expertise is at the ready to help usher in a new Roaring 20s of experiences.