The Final Frontier

Guest Post by Melissa Vigue, Peppercommotions

April 19 Last week I received an email from WSJON – the Wall Street Journal’s Office Network. The offer stated that I, on behalf of my clients, could reach thousands of young, affluent professionals in the one place we spend the most time – the office. 

The premise is this: Brands can engage potential consumers via “experiential marketing” (think samples and live demos) in hundreds of office complexes nationwide. Sounds great, right?  As someone who executes brand experiences and a real believer in forging a connection with consumers, my gut says, “Yes, another opportunity for our clients.” 

As a consumer and a commuter who is hawked everything from haircuts to handbags on her way to the office, I‘m not so sure. Hitting that lobby, waving to the doorman and racing to the elevator are a delicately choreographed dance and, frankly, one of the last places where I want to be solicited.

Do I have time, or more importantly the desire, to stop and try a sample or hear more about this great new {insert product here}? Keep in mind; this is coming from a New Yorker. For those who commute here, you know what I mean. Is this different outside of major cities? Would suburban corporate parks be more receptive? Maybe.

In my opinion, marketers can’t go wrong with food, beverages or technology and services (think dry cleaning delivery) that can make my life easier. The risk is putting a brand’s reputation on the line to engage consumers in a new way. If I am approached in such a way that leaves a bad taste in my mouth (pun intended), I am much more likely to talk, blog, or Facebook about that experience. 

Whatever your take on this new – or final – experiential frontier, it will be interesting to see how it plays out, both for marketers and consumers.

5 thoughts on “The Final Frontier

  1. if people like to be ignored, then i say set up the desks and show off your collateral and toys…i might even glance when i walk by.

  2. Precisely our point, Art. It remains to be seen whether engaging consumers in this way is worth the potential risk to a brand’s reputation.

  3. You are right, Julie. Typically, demos, sampling, couponing, etc. are not allowed. That said, the Wall Street Journal Office Network has created a service that does get you – legally – into these buildings or office parks. And I hear you on the “free” lunch. Those can be a bit misleading.

  4. I don’t like the idea of being solicited at work. I don’t have a choice about avoiding the message–I have to get into work. If anything, this approach would seriously turn me off to whatever product they were promoting, or to the brand of product in question.

  5. Soliciting in the workplace is usually a no-no. Even giving out free samples would probably not be allowed in the busy midtown office building where I work. I’m sure it would turn the lobby into a bazaar and interrupt the flow of traffic.
    I’m always skeptical of anything given to me for “free”; there are usually strings attached. Like the time I placed my business card into a drawing for a “free lunch” at the salad bar I usually go to every day. Turns out that it was sponsored by an insurance company that wanted to do a presentation to me and my colleagues in exchange for the “free” lunch. No thanks.