Showing the Value of Experience with Sevillian Mocktails

We built a Fictitious Brand to Measure the Real Power of Experience


In a landscape dominated by Fyre Festival memes and GOT brand collaborations, the media landscape has become more fragmented (and confusing) than ever before. While brands continue to fight for a memorable outcome, their marketing machines continue to rely on traditional channels, churning out TV and digital spots, and relying on programmatic impressions and retargeted social posts. This cyclical machine then produces analytics reports that provide the same formulaic data: how many people saw it, but how many people ignored it?.

The real questions should be: what are these audiences really feeling? What did they actually absorb from your messaging? And are they compelled enough to take action?

We’ve always believed in the power of experience. But we’ve also been challenged over and over again by clients to justify why a physical experience is a more effective form of communication than more traditional channels, each of which come with well-established (and in some cases, outdated) metrics against which success can be judged.


We decided to do an experiment - The Sevillian Experiment - and we went all in. Partnering with Synergy Research and Consulting, we built a completely fictitious brand (in the tricky non-alcoholic cocktail segment), allowed audiences to consume the brand story across a number of mediums and then tested the audience’s propensity to take action.

We named our bitter orange non-alcohol cocktail brand “Sevillian” (get it?).

Our audience was introduced to Sevillian in a contextual brand space (a cocktail bar) programmed for “mocktail making.” Each participant was then taken through a series of touchpoints, including:

  • Listening to audio about making a mocktail with Sevillian
  • Reading about making a mocktail
  • Watching a video about making a mocktail
  • Participating in a mocktail making experience

Participants were then surveyed to gauge their emotional responses, as well as their likelihood to recommend, purchase and even share the brand.

Showing the Value of Experience with Sevillian Mocktails
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To get all the results, download a digital version of the full report by clicking the link below on this page or email us to request a hardcopy.

One thing is immediately clear: the audience projected a higher brand affinity after participating in the mocktail experience. But what was more revealing was how the audience characterized product interactions that pushed them to action.

  • 73% were more likely to purchase the brand in question if they experienced it first-hand
  • 82% want brands to create experiences that ‘entertain, engage and educate’ them

If we consider ‘listen, watch, view’ through the lens of digital media, and ‘participation’ as indicative of brand experience, it becomes clear that experiential impressions garner higher impact. Another interesting thing to consider is scale: this experience was deliberately low-fi, hopefully dispelling the myth that brand experiences need to be executed on a large scale to be effective.

So having seen the results, the question becomes: how can brands capitalize on participatory experiences to generate the highest emotional response? And how, in turn, can this lead to scale?

Another Example of Leading the Brand Story with Contextual Experience

Common sense suggests that experiencing something is more memorable than just seeing it. The real opportunity for brands is leveraging this truth to create a truly human and authentic interaction.

Let’s take a cue from the iconic sneaker purveyor Vans, where each product has a relatable story connected to an audience lifestyle. The brand recently dropped the ComfyCush franchise, blending the timeless style of their iconic Era silhouette with a revolutionary comfy midsole technology.

With a never-ending algorithmic loop of sneaker photos flooding Instagram, experiences work harder than traditional media to make sneakers differentiated and memorable. Vans identified this reality and chose to launch the product with their biggest experiential moment in the brand’s history, working with Set Creative.

Together, we orchestrated a launch moment by creating a relatable, interactive, socially shareable expression of ComfyCush in the contextual epicenter of their target audience - Brooklyn. This is where “ComfyCush High” came to life: a nostalgic and culturally engaging event alive with experiential moments that humanized the product tech, and let people participate with this exciting product innovation.

Generating PR Impact with Experience

The underlying issue with experience has always been its limited reach. If 100 people participate in a brand experience, is that really going to move the needle for a brand en mass?

This is where the experience needs to be considered within a larger marketing ecosystem.

Going back to our Vans example: the limited existence of “ComfyCush High” needed to generate enough reach and authentic storytelling to cement the franchise before 60,000 sneakers hit the shelves. It was about reach: we needed the audience across the world to see this experience.

To do this (and hit some lofty PR goals), we ensured our key audiences were top tier influencers and media outlets (alongside 150 lucky sneaker heads). This, coupled with experiences that were both culturally relevant and designed for social sharing, allowed these audiences to get our message out, creating a platform for influencers to amplify ComfyCush across thousands of unique perspectives.

The strategy of combining PR with an experience-lead campaign worked. Vans ComfyCush received 4.79BB PR impressions and 334 pieces of online coverage, far exceeding expectations.


@mrbeast I'm glad he didn't pass out 😅 Thanks @Shopify for this crazy experience! Hope those of you that went had a good time! #heist #money ♬ original sound - MrBeast

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