TV and film marketing is failing to reach important Gen Z audiences. Major media brands Disney, Netflix and FX believe experiential marketing is key to reaching younger audiences.

Disney's wonder of friendship teaser

Disney’s ‘Wonders of Friendship’ teaser

AV entertainment has historically powered the flywheel of excitement through its long-established chain of critics, newspapers, magazines, TV chat shows and talent press junkets. But in an ever-more-noisy peak streaming era, the brand recognizes that she has to cut through to her Gen Z position.

Why TV Brands Are Focusing on Experiential Marketing

Disney will thrive in 2023 with The Wonder of Friendship, a multi-sensory experience. The announcement comes on the heels of both Netflix and FX launching their immersive retail experiences. Additionally, Channel 4 has revealed to The Drum that it’s shifting its strategy to being more experiential. The real world is becoming a canvas for our television fantasies.

James Herring, CEO of creative PR agency Taylor Herring, recently worked on the House of the Dragon throne tour and Channel 4’s interactive Make Me Prime Minster campaign. He said the competitiveness of the streaming market means that TV companies “can’t rest on their laurels” and market their content in traditional ways.

“You can’t reach Gen Z by doing double stretches on the Radio Times or being talented on The Graham Norton Show,” he says.

Disney’s “Wonders of Friendship” experience opens in May 2023 and will bring characters like Lilo and Stitch, Mickey and Friends, and Simba and Pumbaa from The Lion King to life, touted as a tribute to best friends. While the family-friendly event will be held on its own, it will also get audiences excited about Disney+’s upcoming original productions.

Meanwhile, this month, Netflix opened ‘Netflix at The Grove’. This is an immersive retail experience in LA. The 10,000-square-foot space is packed with life-size versions of Netflix shows like Vecna ​​from Stranger Things, Bridgerton’s Throne, Squid-his game dolls, and more.


Not to mention FX debuted an immersive fan experience earlier this month to promote the 11th installment of American Horror Story. It was pegged as an immersive horror-inspired boutique that has been slammed.

@sharmedlife #NYC #AHS #ahsfx @fxnetworks #americanhorrorstory #newyorkcity #nycpopup #popup #thingstodonyc #nycnews #freenyc #nycfreebies #nyccheck ♬ American Horror Story Freak Show End Title Theme (from “American Horror Story Freak Show”) – AHS Project

Herring explains that this type of revitalization will become “borderline essential” for TV and film brands as newspaper sales decline and red carpet events become less important. He urges brands to “provide tactile and personal experiences for viewers, build stronger relationships with shows, and further drive word of mouth and bragging rights.”

Note that each of these new experiential sites includes photography elements and exclusive access for influencers to drive organic promotions.

Sarah Fox, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Disney Consumer Products Games and Publishing EMEA, tells The Drum that post-pandemic ‘desperation’ for in-person events has driven the creation of ‘The Friendship Wonder’ .

While promoting an in-person experience, Disney is adding hybrid digital elements to ensure it’s an inclusive event. “We know there is great value in hosting in-person experiences and connecting people, but we want to ensure that those who can’t attend can still connect to the storytelling,” he said. says Fox.

Disney has partnered with TikTok and Snapchat to run quizzes and challenges, develop filters, and drop social ads. To further promote the event, Disney will run an integrated campaign leveraging paid media and influencer marketing.

Fox explains that the focus of the campaign is “to build awareness and relationships” [Disney’s] Targeting Gen Z and Young Adults. The Fox team measures campaigns through attendance. Mentions and engagement across social. Acquired media reach and sentiment, and microsite visitors.

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