How brands can create connections with events

Events budgets are expanding at the fastest rate on record.

In 2024, the landscape of brand experiences continues to evolve. Today’s consumers have more ways to interact with brands than ever before, with most services only a click or a swipe away. However, consumers continue to crave in-person experiences.

The Q1 2024 IPA Bellwether Report shows how 'Events' was the stand-out category, with budgets expanding at the fastest rate on record. 2024/25 is expected to be another strong year, with a robust net balance of +18.7% of survey respondents anticipating an uplift in spend compared to the previous financial year.

So, what is it about events that makes them so influential? And how can they elevate a brand to build meaningful connections? Events and Activations Director at IMA-HOME, Lucy Tant, takes a look.


Advancements in technology, especially AR and AI, allow brands to create more bespoke experiences for consumers. Experiential becomes a logical place to leverage this trend as the combination of technology with human-led interactions means they’re even more engaging. Connecting the brand with the audience in a way that feels personal to them.

However, we know there’s a nervousness from audiences around the use of tech. So, it’s important to be mindful of this, making sure it complements the brand experience rather than dominating it.

Consumers have come to expect seamless experiences across digital, mobile, and in-store, but delivering on those expectations has its challenges. AI can be used to bridge the gaps in complex customer journeys, giving brands the chance to understand their audience in a more insight-driven way and create meaningful engagements.

Our activation for Tommy Hilfiger’s New York Puffer Jacket is a great example of how creating shareable social content that bridges the digital and physical landscape, can build hype. The campaign merged AR, CGI, and social amplification by letting consumers turn landmarks in London and Berlin into puffer jackets in an immersive scavenger hunt.

By making the activation accessible to anyone with a smartphone, we reached a broad audience of city livers. The CGI content received over 80k engagements in two weeks, successfully capturing consumers’ attention in prime puffer jacket purchasing season.


Activations are a huge content generation opportunity. Brand-owned channels can be used to curate a program of content that spans pre-, during, and post-event. Content shared in real-time - by both brand and consumers - helps the experience go beyond the activation and into the digital world. Influencer collaborations and paid social campaigns extend reach and engagement even further.

Airbnb executed this perfectly with its Barbie collaboration, creating the Malibu Dreamhouse - hosted by Ken. While only two lucky guests could win the giveaway, the creative concept fuelled global conversations, with user-generated content showcasing the campaign across multiple platforms.

This sets the tone for the future, and we expect to see brands learning from the success of immersive sharable experiences, captivating the audience by tapping into popular culture, nostalgia, and one-of-a-kind experiences.


To create truly meaningful, organic connections, brands need to perfectly intersect a campaign message with the right audience, in an environment they naturally engage with. The impact of that connection is even stronger when a person from within that community delivers it.

High Snobiety’s report identifies that key cultural moments have become a canvas for micro-events. Where communities gather but create their own news, the ‘events at the event’ become the talking point. This fosters community-building and cultural credibility for the organiser.

We helped Reebok authentically connect with the Crossfit community and leverage Wodapalooza 2024, with our Nano X4 shoe swap experience. Strategically positioned, consumers could donate their current shoes for a pair of brand-new Reebok Nano X4s. Reebok athletes led the crew to ensure the activation resonated with the audience, and more than 500 pairs of Nano X4s were gifted across the two days – getting the footwear onto the feet of the right people.


In 2024, brands need to be looking beyond sustainability. Focusing on re-generative experiential marketing practices instead. The goal is to leave people, the planet, and society in a better place than when you started. Consumers are looking to brands to deliver on their values, and for many, it is already part of their mission.
It can feel like a daunting task but setting one or two goals such as looking at waste disposal procedures and reusing or donating items following tear-down, aiming to create a closed-loop system where resources are not wasted, is a great place to start.

Partnerships are key to achieving this, making sure whoever you work with shares the same values and vision.

Looking forward

What makes brand activations so influential is their unique ability to create connections with real people. When done well, by integrating tech to span the physical-digital worlds, tapping into interactivity and key cultural moments, and aiming to leave the world in a better place, they can elevate a brand and build long-lasting relationships with audiences.

We expect to see a continued focus on meaningful moments, with brands building loyalty through unforgettable moments that live beyond the activation itself. Tapping into the trends we’ve identified will be key to unlocking the true potential of experiential in years to come.

Lucy Tant is Events and Activations Director at IMA-HOME.

For more about the Q1 2024 Bellwether and for full reaction


The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and were submitted in accordance with the IPA terms and conditions regarding the uploading and contribution of content to the IPA newsletters, IPA website, or other IPA media, and should not be interpreted as representing the opinion of the IPA.

Last updated 01 May 2024