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COMMENTARY: It’s All About the Experience

A main goal in a brand’s licensing program is the idea of connecting consumers to that brand. It is about fully integrating the brand into their lifestyle. How do we get the consumer to be fully immersed in a brand experience when they buy these action figures, bedspreads, food and beverage products, T-shirts, etc.? One of the best ways to do this is through live events and experiences, such as live touring arena shows and amusement park worlds. Three very popular character and entertainment brands have successfully integrated these live, in-person experiences into their licensing programs, establishing a greater connection between their cult fans and the characters those fans love.

Harry Potter

hpWizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios allows us Muggles to fully experience the world of J.K. Rowling’s literary (and cinematic) phenomenon, Harry Potter. If you’re looking for proof that Harry Potter fans are a dedicated and loyal group, you only need to look as far as the recent announcement of the expansion of this magical pocket of Universal Studios. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which let fans travel to Hogwarts or Hogsmeade for a mug of refreshing butterbeer, will expand to include Diagon Alley, complete with shops galore and Gringotts Bank. Fans will soon be able to see the Hogwarts Express as well, bringing multiple familiar magical sites to life.

Most importantly, this interactive world allows fans to become part of the magic. Any kid reading the Harry Potter book series or watching the films lived with the glimmer of hope that one day, at the age of 11, an owl would arrive on his or her doorstep with a letter in tow inviting them to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. By recreating these famous settings, these mere Muggles get the chance to live inside their favorite brand, if only for a day or so.

The Simpsons

SpringfieldWe also can’t quite ignore the popularity of The Simpsons brand, as the series celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Along with a whole slew of branded products that are revamped with a retro twist (see the upcoming Summer issue of The Licensing Book for more details!), The Simpsons also created its own world at Universal Studios. It all began with The Simpsons Ride, which allowed fans to ride along with the Simpsons as they visit Krustyland, the theme park created by famed TV personality and shameless product huckster Krusty the Clown. Entering through the carnival-like midway, fans can find out if the park is about to be sabotaged, joining Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie for the ride.

Over the past 25 years, The Simpsons brand has recruited quite the loyal following, so naturally extending this immersive experience felt necessary. Fans can now grab a bite to eat at famous Springfield eateries, including Krusty Burger, The Frying Dutchman, Cleatus’ Chicken Shack, Luigi’s Pizza, Lard Lad Donuts, Lisa’s Teahouse of Horror, and Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck. They can indulge in refreshments in popular places such as Duff Brewery and Moe’s Tavern. They’ve also added Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl, where the aliens take “foolish humans” on an intergalactic spin designed to send your lunch into orbit.

Marvel

With the new Marvel films coming out every year—throwing us into action alongside our favorite superheroes—it’s no wonder that the next step for Marvel would be a full-on arena show. Marvel Universe Live! This live arena event features an original story that brings together more than 25 Marvel characters for one epic quest. To defeat Loki, Marvel’s biggest superheroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Spider-Man, and Wolverine, must trek across the globe to retrieve the Cosmic Cube fragments and unite them. As the heroes track the Cube, they encounter some of their biggest adversaries—Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Red Skull, Madame Hydra, Aldrich Killian, Electro, etc.—who are also looking for the very same fragments. Of course, these foes will also have no problem teaming up as well if it gets them closer to world domination. (Sometimes team work’s for the best, even for the bad guys!)

Okay, but seriously, check this out. There’s fire. There’s flipping cars. There’s motorcycles. Captain America’s shield flies. Iron Man flies. It’s Marvel like Marvel has never been experienced before.

With the Lectro Link, you get to be a part of the action, not just an audience member. The whole Marvel team was there to bring these characters and this show to life.  Plus—all that combat! This show is a Marvel fan’s dream. It gives them a chance to become a part of the Marvel Universe in a more present way than the films allow. Seeing it live actually brings the characters to life, turning them into real people right in front of the audience. With the Lectro Link, you become part of the heroes’ story.

These live events and amusement park worlds make your brand the destination, instead of just bringing them along for the ride. By fully immersing your audience into your brand, you give them a deeper connection than is possible than with a simple T-shirt. It allows everyone—from the most loyal fans to the newcomers—to interact in a world that they were only able to imagine before. So don’t overlook opportunities for live or immersive interactions for your brand’s fans. It is, after all, all about the experience.

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