Geometry Global, WPP’s end-to-end creative commerce agency has appointed Safwan El Roufai to lead its experiential offering as Executive Vice President for Middle East & North Africa. Communicate got an exclusive interview with Roufai to learn more about his new role and what plans he has in store for the agency.
Why make the shift from live events to experiential commerce?
Joining Geometry was a result of the meeting of minds, and an opportunity to be part of the next level of experiential. Geometry is focused on reimagining commerce globally, with advanced commerce tools and forward-thinking talents, playing a pivotal role in the experiential sphere. Add this along with my knowledge and background in large-scale live experiences as well as hybrid experiences (digital and physical- it was only natural for us to fuse our expertise, and find solutions for our clients, to help them with their business continuity efforts. The need for more engaging digitally streamed experiences has been brewing for many years. The current Covid-19 situation has only accelerated the pressure on everyone, to focus on thinking of new ways for these experiences to evolve and deliver greater impact.
What sort of KPI’s and benchmarks are you working towards under the new role?
At Geometry, KPI’s are driven by the mindset of forward-thinking. It’s about flourishing, individually and collectively. Hence, I’m mandated to upskill the people around me, as well as grow the knowledge, processes, and tools to deliver large-scale experiences within Geometry regionally. Our intention is to create a successful experiential blueprint that can be rolled out globally within our network.
What are the significant changes that occurred in the experiential marketing business?
We are in the eye of the storm for the experiential marketing business. This industry is being challenged like never before. Every single live event has been canceled or delayed, and this is unprecedented. We are expecting to see a significant shift in the behavior of brands, people, and cultures. This will be seen in the shift in budgets, change in scale and frequency, and most importantly a new breed of experiences that will blend physical with digital.
What is LDX?
LDX is a new experiential model that brings together all the benefits of a live experience with all the benefits of a digital experience. LDX uses digital channels to deliver live experiences but combines that with physical deliverables which bring those digital moments to life.
It is the “live + physical” elements that make LDX unique. Live means this experience has a beginning and an end, but to make it resonate as only experiential can, it is also designed to be “unmissable” by bringing the virtual and physical together. We combine this thinking with a rich UX, delivered via an integrated ecosystem. It is very important to note that this is not an off the shelf platform; it is rather a unique and purposeful design thinking approach.
How will it help the agency’s clients in the current climate? Could you share with an example?
The current situation is uniquely impacting our clients. They use experiential marketing as part of their marketing mix because they appreciate that it builds a lasting connection with customers and drives brand recall, sales and revenue. However, experiences are being canceled or postponed across the region, and the current isolation and uncertainty are impacting on people’s behaviors. They are putting off purchases large and small. They are turning more and more to digital channels. However, in the midst of all this- brands, people and cultures still need to generate the same business benefits they planned for, from experiential marketing. They must find ways to establish business continuity, whether they are B2B or B2C.
This is where LDX is bringing a different approach, by delivering unique, physical engagements that are so integrated with the online experiences, that one can’t do without the other. Bringing together the power of ‘the unmissable’ through live experiences, with the ability to tune in from wherever you are digitally. We combine this thinking with a rich UX, delivered via an integrated ecosystem.
We are now designing a live experience for one of our client’s brands, bringing the basic format of our LDX ecosystem. The brand is reaching out to their customers / guests through their current CRM. Guests are invited to an “exclusive” music experience delivered via the brand’s most powerful social platform. We are then implementing a high level of broadcast production, something not everyone has the access or means to do in the current environment or that we have seen within the existing streaming market. We will deliver tools that allow our performers to set up their own sets with direct online artistic direction from our teams, avoiding the need for people to be in the space together, yet ensuring a superior experience for guests.
Added to this, the live content will drive commercial opportunities for the brand by providing guests with limited edition products, promo codes or even exclusive products only available at the time of the live experience. Making the enjoyable unmissable.
What do you expect your biggest challenges will be?
Whenever you are doing something new you are faced with a challenge. People like to have examples to refer to, to help them imagine how it will work for them. So, our first challenge is common to any innovator. And we are already meeting it, by working with clients who trust us and who have the vision to walk with us on this exciting journey. Our challenges from there are the usual challenges faced in experiential marketing every day – How do we stimulate the senses? What is the user journey? What are the moments that matter? And so on – but translated to new environments. For now, that will be in the home. But as we emerge from this time it may be a combination of home, a communal space like a social club or workspace and large venues such as arenas, conference halls or specially built spaces. Combining the expertise within Geometry and the experience and knowledge within our experiential team together, we are excited to meet these challenges to help our brands build unmissable experiences that create business continuity.