09 May 2012 // Thoughts

The Value of Experiential Design: “That’s PR You Can’t Buy”

Around the world, major corporations are not only creating free experiential events such as the live Angry Birds event in Barcelona, they are also creating exciting destinations where customers will actually PAY to experience their brands.

Volkswagen AG believed in this philosophy and hired JRA and a number of other architects and designers to create their own branded destination. Spread over 40 acres across from the company’s manufacturing plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, the resultant Autostadt theme park features a unique way for customers to pick up their purchased vehicles, along with several history museums, an interactive science center, a variety of restaurants and retail and a Ritz-Carlton hotel – all set within a beautifully landscaped park featuring stunning architecture.

The results of Volkswagen’s $500 million dollar investment? Attracting over 2 million people per year, Autostadt has turned the small city of Wolfsburg into one of Germany’s top destinations and has spurred the development of a number of other attractions. Perhaps even more indicative of the success of the project is how the local community has embraced the development – treating it like a town square that hosts a number of events (such as this temporary toboggan run), festivals and even a number of weddings each year. That’s PR that you can’t buy.

Most importantly, VW believes that Autostadt has helped them create customers for life. Even if this is only a fraction of the 2 million guests per year, think of the financial value of that proposition.

Examples such as Volkswagen’s Autostadt illustrate the marketing value that experientially designed venues provide corporations.

But forward thinking firms also use experiential design to attract the best and brightest employees, a subject we’ll explore in next week’s blog.