Wowing the National Retail Federation Convention

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Creative Realties' CEO, Jason Friedman, Explains the Anatomy of Wow

We have become so saturated with traditional advertising and marketing campaigns that we've built up an immunity. In today's economic climate, retailers have to reach their customers on a gut level. And the only way to do that is to wow them.

The DESiGN STUDiO at the 98th National Retail Federation Convention & Expo kicked off on January 12th with Jason Friedman's presentation, "The Anatomy of Wow." Friedman, CEO and founder of Fairfield, NJ-based experiential marketing and branding company, Creative Realities, explained that the best way to reach shoppers is through experiences that wow.

"A wow is a surprise of an elevated magnitude," said Friedman. "We have become so saturated with traditional advertising and marketing campaigns that we've built up an immunity. In today's economic climate, retailers have to reach their customers on a gut level. And the only way to do that is to wow them."

Friedman punctuated his explanation of wow with high-tech, low-tech, and no-tech examples successful retailers have used to engage shoppers. One example was the REI store in Seattle, which caters to outdoor enthusiasts. REI installed a 65-foot climbing wall inside its store to bring the climbing experience directly to its shoppers. "It is important to give shoppers the experience they most want, right then and there," said Friedman. "Shoppers want immediacy."

Friedman talked about the importance of bringing memorable experiences to the forefront of customers' minds. As an example, he discussed the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, where authentic-looking dinosaur puppets roam the corridors, simultaneously startling and delighting visitors. Video footage aired during the presentation showed the reactions of museum goers as they stood face-to-face with a seemingly live Tyrannosaurus Rex. The short film ended, a roar was heard backstage, and a T-Rex puppet, designed by ERTH and on loan from the Natural History Museum, lumbered into the studio.

"There must have been a hundred cameras taking pictures," said Dan Butler, VP of Merchandising and Retail Operations for the NRF "The dinosaur really added another level to the whole experience."

Friedman is an authority on creating visceral environments and experiences for organizations in varied fields. His company, Creative Realities, has clients that include retailers (Foot Locker, Radio Shack, Samsung, T-Mobile, Time Warner), banks (Bank of America, Wachovia), hotels (Hyatt, W Hotels), and universities (Harvard University, Stanford University), among others. Creative Realities is also helping to create the environment for the largest retail and entertainment complex in the United States, Meadowlands Xanadu.

ABOUT CREATIVE REALITIES
Creative Realities is an experiential branding and marketing firm that creates wow environments and customer experiences for organizations in the fields of retail, hospitality, entertainment, healthcare, education, and general corporate. Its clients include Bank of America, Foot Locker, Harvard University, Hyatt, Meadowlands Xanadu, Radio Shack, Samsung, Stanford University, T-Mobile, TiVo, and Time Warner. In 2007 and 2008, Creative Realities was named to Inc. magazine's "Inc. 5000" list of America's fastest-growing, privately-held companies. For more information, visit http://www.cri.com, and the blog, http://www.theanatomyofwow.com.

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Mark Levy
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