Captivate to Activate: How to Use Marketing Activation in the Attention Economy

By Blackdog - about 2 years ago


We’re living in the era of the attention economy. (And as a creative retail marketing agency as well as consumers ourselves, don’t we know it.) Life is hectic. We’re always on, and our full-time working weeks are the longest in Europe. We’re constantly distracted with the need to check our phones and spend a third of our waking lives looking at them. Whether we’re working, socialising, exercising, resting, even when we’re not actively shopping, marketing is everywhere. Yet, and here’s the kicker, we ignore the vast majority of these messages every day, so most marketing simply goes unnoticed.

So with attention being such a precious resource, how do you make sure it’s your brand that gets chosen? Firstly, it’s about understanding the process of this choice. Because we don’t have time to rationally evaluate every option available to us, we use screening to find a shortcut to the easiest decision. Tie that in with the fact our subconscious does most of the deciding for us, governing 95% of human decisions, and it’s clear to see how emotion trumps reason almost every time. Therefore, for brands it’s not just about satisfying people’s needs, it’s also about making them feel something. It’s about Captivating People. Because captivation leads to activation.

Are you looking to captivate with a B2B marketing strategy? We’ll tell you seven ways to do just that.

Our Secret to Captivation

At Blackdog we’ve created a model to help us work out where, when and how to constructively intervene in people’s lives, grab their attention and convert browsers into buyers. We call this model EEAD. We start by seeking to Entertain our audience to earn their attention. We provide novelty and entice consumers with the promise of a story. Then we Engage with them to hold their attention and land the key message, making it clear how they stand to gain from what we’re offering. Next, we Advise with a clear instruction and give them a compelling reason to act. Only then have we earned the right to inspire action and can Direct consumers to make a purchase decision.

Using a well-thought-out method that is easily applicable to a wide range of marketing activations ensures you can cut through the noise, take hold of consumers’ focus and create meaningful connections.

Marketing Activations in Action

Marketing activations can be used to captivate your consumers and create a powerful emotional connection between them and your brand to ultimately encourage a purchase decision. And let’s not forget, they can also be used to:

  • Increase product trials
  • Reinforce your brand values
  • Create viral moments
  • Strengthen relationships with consumers
  • Increase brand recall
  • Engage new audiences

In-store Activations

As in-store activations, such as feature ends, popups, seasonal displays and floor graphics, make your brand quite literally stand out from competitors, they are useful tools to grab consumers’ attention just before the moment of purchase. For example, we created an engaging in-store activation for Dreams’ Revived mattress range, which is made from recycled ocean plastic. The point of sale is underpinned by a powerful emotive message to inspire consumers to make a conscious choice to help the environment by buying from the range. The campaign won two POPAI awards, showing that appealing to your audience’s emotions is a good way to convey a message and to create engagement, and purchase decisions are easier to make when they make us feel like we’re doing good.


Experiential Activation

An opportunity to pull out all the stops, a well-executed experiential event is totally worth the investment it requires. As these high-touch events see consumers actively engaging with the brand, they’re completely captivating, build memorable experiences and have the potential to go viral. As a result, the ROI can be huge.

And our example is not just any experiential marketing activation. This is an M&S experiential marketing activation.


M&S approached us just after the pandemic asking whether we could help them captivate shoppers from several fallen retailers and convert them to M&S customers, thereby increasing new customers, footfall and sales through their stores.

We proposed a number of conceptual ideas for this activation, which stretched across their clothing, lingerie, home & beauty categories. M&S chose ‘Everyone’s a Winner with Lucky Hangers’ – a clothes hanger-based marketing activation that rewarded all participating shoppers with either a £250 gift card or a 50%, 30%, 20% or 10% discount off their purchase.

Customers both new and existing loved it, and the activation generated measurable results for M&S. Throughout the campaign M&S saw a 26% increase in their average basket spend and a 20% increase in new Sparks customers.

Looking for more ways to captivate? Read our article on how clever brands are using smart packaging to stand out.

Get Started with a Retail Activation Agency

As a leading creative marketing agency, we make it our business to create captivating marketing activations that delight audiences and drive measurable results for some of Britain’s biggest retailers. Find out how we can guide your marketing activation plan using our unique EEAD framework by speaking to a member of our team today.