Experiential Marketing Case Study

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

What if your scale could always say something that would make you proud? That was Lean Cuisine's idea behind their experiential marketing campaign. In this lesson, you'll learn more about Lean Cuisine's strategy.

Diet Thoughts

When you think about dieting and eating healthy, what do you think of? Fresh fruits and veggies? Lean proteins? Where do frozen meals fit in that picture? Probably nowhere, right?

So, you see the problem that well-known frozen meal entreé provider Lean Cuisine faced. But, what do you do about public perception and understanding of what diets and healthful foods mean? You embark on an experiential marketing plan.

Lean Cuisine used experiential marketing to shift the focus away from dieting.
weight, diet, lean cuisine, experiential, marketing

What is Experiential Marketing?

Experiential marketing is a hands-on approach to advertising a product or service. Brands that rely on it are trying to engage their consumer base through immersive experiences rather than more traditional means of advertising. In short, it's about trying to form an emotional connection between a brand and its consumers through one-on-one experiences.

So, what does that mean? It could mean something as simple as offering free samples to creating a pop-up store experience or engaging in guerrilla marketing tactics such as delivering your message using chalk on a sidewalk or promoting something like the Ice Bucket Challenge. (Remember that from a few summers ago?) Guerrilla marketing is outside-the-box marketing that gets big exposure from a small expenditure.

Experiential marketing can reap big benefits for brands, ranging from more personal communication and relationships with consumers that increase loyalty to helping your product stand out in a noisy environment.

One brand that successfully employed experiential marketing is Nestlé's popular frozen food brand, Lean Cuisine. Their campaign, titled #WeighThis, transformed a brand whose sales has been declining for five years.


When you decide to advertise a product to assist with weight loss, what's the first thing you'd do? If you answered ''avoid every appearance of diet-related material,'' you'd be thinking like Lean Cuisine.

Lean Cuisine's experiential marketing involved a couple of components, all of which centered on the idea of women focusing less on a number on a scale and more on their accomplishments and the important things in life. To that end, Lean Cuisine asked women to share what mattered most to them. They used multiple outlets including:

  • Video, with stories of women's proudest accomplishments such as celebrating a successful marriage or saving a family member's life.
  • Social media, with the hashtag #WeighThis.
  • A special art event where artist Annica Lydenberg painted responses on bathroom scales.
  • An art installation at New York's Grand Central Station where women wrote down ways they wanted to be measured, such as going back to school or performing community service.
  • Creating a #WeighThis ''Diet Filter'' for TV and the Google Chrome browser that allowed women to mute the word ''diet'' in advertisements. This took place in January, around the time many people are making resolutions to lose weight.

Through all of these experiences, there was no direct interaction with any Lean Cuisine product. Each component of the campaign stood on its own thanks to its interactive nature. There was no need to interrupt consumers or even passive observers because the message was easy to spot thanks to the experience around it.

Why It Worked

Lean Cuisine succeeded in its #WeighThis campaign for a number of reasons.

1. They created an emotional connection between the brand and the audience. Rather than discussing the taste of their latest creation, they built a deeper bond using real people and human emotions.

2. They used compelling visual material. Between a video utilized for commercials and various art installations, the brand was able to command more attention than a simple advertisement of its products ever could. Visual content creates a stronger emotional pull when telling a story.

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