Year In Review, Looking Back At Experiential Marketing

From Member Donnalyn Smith, President, North America, Momentum Worldwide

How have your priorities/goals shifted from the start of 2020?

Overnight, we were forced to rethink our business model of delivering Total Brand Experiences for our clients. As live experiences went dark, we went to work to create virtual solutions for our clients to be able to continue to connect with their consumers.

On a parallel path, we reshaped the delivery of our live event model to ensure that we could support our clients’ efforts to reconnect with their consumers safely. We have recreated, tested, and evolved our experiential design and production strategies for delivering successful live event activations during this pandemic. Based on this work, we were able to activate 320 drive-in movie showings in 160 markets across 27 states for Walmart.

As we navigate this “new normal” do you have an idea of how you’re going to set your objectives/goals for 2021?

Our overall objectives and goals for 2021 really haven’t changed. We continue to push for growth and to forge new relationships with like-mind partners and clients. How we go about delivering the work, however, has changed for the foreseeable future. As a result, we have set new objectives around safely delivering hybrid (live and virtual) experiences for our clients.

How has your company been able to maintain a positive work environment, remotely?

Our people are our strongest asset. From the very first day of working from home, we set out to make sure our people were connected and knew that we were there for them. We have been consistent and transparent with agency updates and news, and have brought the agency together via regular global town halls and all-office meetings.

We have expanded our mental health and wellness resources, such as offering Headspace, to ensure that our people have what they need to combat potential stress, anxiety and isolation during this time.

Lastly, we have continued to celebrate the milestones our people are reaching despite the fact that we can’t be together. We are recognizing expanding families, new homes and pets, as well as traditional promotion milestones, sending clear messages to our people that they will continue to grow in this new world we’re living in.

What industry trends do you think will be prominent in 2021? Which ones will become less important?

With the acceleration of technology, 5G was something everyone had heard about, but perhaps was not as widely adopted. ​As we move into 2021, we as a society have had to alter our communication techniques for how we connect with friends/family and how we connect for our work/careers. Never has a reliable high-speed connection to the outside world meant more. ​

And with that, 5G is going to finally come out of the shadows and enter the everyday vocabulary. With consumers recreating their home space to be an office, a communication hub and an entertainment center, people will have higher expectations from brands when it comes to providing top-of-the-line technology to stay relevant and competitive in the market. ​5G will help revolutionize the “work from home” office space, catapult the online shopping experience into a new orbit, and elevate how we watch and interact with entertainment. The potential for virtual and physical experiences is endless, as we will see the emergence of truly blended experiences working in real-time.

Donnalyn Smith is President, North America overseeing the success of the agency’s North American offices, people and client portfolios. Previously, she has served as EVP, Regional Director, Managing Director and Group Account Director for several of the agency’s large accounts. She is a founding member of the 4A’s Committee for Best-in-Class Account Management and a member of the 4A’s High School Initiative. In 2017, she drove Momentum’s partnership with the 3% Conference, and in 2018, Donnalyn was honored as a “Trailblazer Mom of the Year” by She Runs It and named to Adweek’s Disruptors list. She is also a founding member of the #TimesUpAdvertising movement. Smith joined Momentum in 1995.