The shift from good ol’ marketing to delivering “experiences” means that brands must strive to invoke emotion from their customers, said John Mellor, Adobe’s VP of strategy, alliances, and marketing, during his day-two keynote at Adobe Summit, in Las Vegas.
“The impact of experience,” Mellor told the 12,000-plus attendees, “is not just functional. It is also about how [the experience] makes us feel. Experience is about the emotion we have when we interact with brands. We are not just marketers anymore. We are not just stewards. We are ambassadors of experience. And every experience leads to an emotional response.”
According to Mellor, brands that focus on making experiences rewarding—and even a “little bit magical”—will build better connections to their customers.
Mellor then brought Pam El, EVP and CMO of the NBA, on stage because, he said, “there isn’t a better example than sports of how experiences create emotional reactions.”
“There’s great value in storytelling and emotionally connecting with fans,” the NBA’s powerhouse marketing executive said. That is why she and her team are so committed to telling the stories of the NBA.
Of course, the NBA is fortunate enough to have some of the “best spokespeople on the planet.” However, El said, these players aren’t just amazing basketball players; they also understand the power of branding.
“These are gifted athletes and marketers,” she said. “One of the reasons you know NBA players so well is that they have influence on and off the court. They are trendsetters. They are fashion icons. Even their kids are popular. And so are their friends and friends’ kids. They have influence on and off the court. ”
In addition to its players, the NBA is also creating emotional connections with fans by breaking boundaries. One example is Becky Hammon, who became the first female assistant coach. Another example is a partnership among the NBA, WNBA, and LeanIn.Org to encourage men to support equality at home and at work. These types of programs help the NBA and its players connect with fans beyond the game—all year long.
According to El, 1 billion people tuned into the NBA last year. These consumers continue to engage at any time and in any way they want. But their favorite place to consume NBA content, she noted, is via social media, where the NBA has 1.3 billion followers.
“Our advantage is technology,” El said. “Less than 1% of NBA fans experience a game inside an arena. It is through technology that we engage with our fans. We are a very small part of a very big world, and we are a global brand.”
For the really engaged NBA fan, the association has a mobile app with which users can interact with the game while watching it.
“We have a lot of NBA fans, and a lot of things to say to them and experiences to deliver,” she added. “We’re using Adobe products to connect better to our fans. Adobe is managing the data that is allowing us to deliver the right message, at the right time, in the right channel.”
El gave the audience an example of some of the ways in which the NBA uses digital channels to tell the untold stories about basketball. Most notably, she talked about the “This Is Why We Play” campaign, for which she played the following video:
“We are finding ways to emotionally connect with fans every day about the game they love and the players they respect in the way they want us to connect,” El said.
From a talent perspective, the NBA, as is the case with many other organizations today, is looking for more data-minded people to join the marketing team.
Following El’s presentation, Adobe’s Mellor invited David Fisher, vice president of business and marketing partnerships at Facebook, onto the stage. Fisher said he expects the future of marketing to be short-form, super-targeted, and made for smaller screens.
He also predicted more purpose-driven marketing, based on what we saw during this year’s Super Bowl.
In addition, Fisher talked about video, saying that the 30-second format isn’t dead, but it does need a major evolution. He pointed to brands such as Carnival Cruise Lines and Coca-Cola, which edit longer-form content to better fit the mobile user. For mobile, 15 seconds is ideal, he said.
“Create thumb-stopping content,” Fisher advised. “People watch 100 million hours a day of video on Facebook.” The companies that are doing this best are treating mobile as more than just a side project. Mobile is a core aspect of their campaigns, he said.
When it comes to what we can expect from Facebook in the future, Fisher said, messaging will soon have a commercial advantage.