The Power of Experience: what Brands can learn from the pressures of supply and demand at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival

Fringe_09_collage some of Mediation's Fringe highlights, from topish down – Pappy's Fun Club, Showstopper the (improvised) musical, the 80s Movie Flashback, Wolfboy, Private Peaceful, A British Subject, Picasso and Heyton on Homicide

on one hand an abundance of supply, with limited budgets to communicate, and a desperate need to stand out.  on the other a premium on attention where time si the most valuable commodity and the biggest problem is navigating a plethora of choice.

not a crystallisation of the current media paradigm, but rather a description of the annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where this weekend Mediation ended his summer break with a frenetic 48 hours taking in a dozen shows.  from WW1 deserters to 80s movie Flashbacks, taking in on the way a Victorian murder mystery and a musical about repressed teenage sexual tension in which one of the protagonists may or may not be a wolf.

that aside, the Fringe provides us with an interesting microcosm of what in many ways is being debated as we negotiate the future of media and communications.  too much supply, not enough time and or attention, and a desperate need to stand out from a vast crowd of other acts…

some principles did however emerge

  • reputation (1).  have one and remind people about it.  in a world of massive choice a reminder of what you've done and why you deserve attention helps a lot
  • reputation (2).  acts that were in bigger and respected venues were much more likely to convert.  an hour is precious in Edinburgh and rightly or wrongly an act getting into an established venue is seen as a pre-filter of quality.  choose carefully where people see you
  • word of mouth.  create some.  by far and away the most important factor that determined what I saw (after the fact that my friend was in it) was recommendation.  we know this to be true…  don't expect it to happen, make it happen…  set up the conditions – Pappy's Fun Club for example have a diverse digital presence all aggregated on their website.  they make it easy for you to recommend them
  • be different.  no matter what the cost.  being right but fading into the background is worthless.  if standing out means taking a risk and / or investing a few dollars then do it and make them count.  in a world of flyers being given a squidgy coffee cup with the name of an act on it was enough to make me remember and want to go
  • facilitate engagement.  make it easy for people to find you.  from thinking about what time you want to be on to shouting the venue on communications made a big difference

but above all I was reminded of how powerful a live experience was.  from a play dissecting British Foreign Policy (and occasional apathy) to nationals imprisoned abroad, to a musical made up on the spot based on audience suggestions; the act of creation in a live space is a powerful way to communicate an idea.  we should be more often planning for brand comms to have this potency of live experience.

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