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Experiential marketing in idea-dark phase, brands failing to connect with consumers: Roshan Abbas of Geometry Encompass

The Managing Director of Geometry Global Encompass, a leading events and brand activation agency, says brands should give agencies a better brief and bigger challenges and smart agencies should come back with an answer

Roshan Abbas

Experiential marketing is considered to be one of the most engaging marketing tactics. With an objective to create long-lasting impressions with on-ground activations, it is proven to create customer loyalty as well. But a lot of brands still hesitate to invest and experiment with it.

What could be the reasons? Is it just Indian brands not experimenting with activation or globally is it considered challenging?

In a conversation with, Roshan Abbas, Managing Director, Geometry Global Encompass India, said Indian brands are not thinking of great ideas when it comes to experiential marketing.

Geometry Global Encompass is one of India’s leading brand activation and events company.

Highlighting why it is necessary for brands to do experiential marketing, Abbas said, "To make a person take a direct action and active interest, a brand should go for experiential marketing. Whenever a brand is in trouble, do activation because it reaches the consumer directly. The more you will make people feel for your brand, the more people will engage with your brand, and consume it."

Activation or experiential marketing is most preferred for media-dark areas, where a brand finds it difficult to directly reach out to the customers. Quoting how giants like Unilever or Red Bull rule the game of experiential marketing with their execution, Abbas said such brands reach out to their TG directly whether it is in the media-dark areas or urban, metro cities. He pointed out at the same time that experiential marketing in India is suffering from the ‘idea-dark’ phase, where majority of brands fail to connect to the customers.

“Are brands thinking of the great ideas for experiential marketing? No, brands such as Red Bull build everything on activation and don’t spend money on ads. They only create activation that makes content and events that make content. So why are not other brands thinking in the same stream?” he said.

Asked if it's a problem with Indian brands or globally, he said, “No, I think it's largely a problem with Indian brands. Here activation is about man and van, or about feet on the street. Activation today is more about digital data, than involving a human being and creating something out of it. Where a conversation is created, activations happen, whether it's digital, physical, urban, or metro. Activation is one of the most powerful tools not being utilised among brands in India.”

The happiest marriage in the future is digital and activation together, he added.

A lot of brands are under the impression of experiential marketing being suitable and effective for the service sector only. Dismissing this notion, Abbas said, “I don't think so. Service brands are very keen to get you to try their service to some degree. Activation is for all kinds of brands/sectors, and has been happening since Mahakumbh times, where brands would come and offer the first-hand experiences of the products. Today it comprises data, digital and all.”

On behalf of agencies, he said since activation is best done through omnichannels, brands need to define their objectives clearly to the agencies they are working with. He added, “Brands should give agencies a better brief, bigger challenges and smart agencies would come back with an answer.”

There are brands that are lessening their digital spends, in that case, going omnichannel for experiential marketing might be a challenge.  

To this, he said, “Digital is a great place to experiment. While all the physical mediums have a great necessity, I don't think you can change things as fast as you can in digital. It allows you agility and reach. Agencies should be neutral and come up with omnichannel solutions.”

Continuing on how digital has also enhanced storytelling for brands, Abbas said, digital at the same time has been maintaining transparency for brands, including performance marketing. He said, “Digital makes a brand and creative work more measurable since it is transparent with the number of people watching the work and how they like it; making the world a lot more democratic, with digital people having two-way communications with brands.”

Other than this, Abbas said that Geometry Global Encompass would come up with a couple of new and unique things this year, apart from opening up its new office in Bangalore.

“Our new focus will be on shopper marketing and activation. We believe that Indian retail is still very old school. Being India's largest activation and events agency, we are getting into managed IP as well. We would be doing more urban activation since we already have done rural a lot. We would be bringing digital and data together.”

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