The business of cool is heating up in Chicago

SHARE The business of cool is heating up in Chicago

Sean Callahan

Experiential marketing is a “very hot, growing” industry here, according to Tara Giuliano, president of the Chicago chapter of the American Marketing Association. Experiential is a strategy that aims to get customers to experience brands rather than just hear about them.

“It’s very innovative, cool stuff,” she says.

Events are a common component of experiential marketing. For example, New York-based experiential agency MKG threw a Grammy party last weekend for its client Delta that included a performance by Lorde.

“What we’re trying to do from a one-to-one standpoint is evoke an emotion that excites people and does something fun,” says Sean Callahan, who’s leading the launch of an MKG office in Chicago.

Callahan is a seasoned Chicago marketer who most recently spent eight years at Walton Isaacson. Once upon a time, he says, experiential marketing was treated like a stepchild by many ad agencies. But its ability to use pop culture — music, film, sports — has made it somewhat of a cool kid in clients’ eyes.

“In the same way that digital has grown up in the last 10 years, experiential has been doing the same thing,” he says.

Callahan expects to hire up to 10 producers, account directors, creatives and strategists to work out of MKG’s office at 2 N. LaSalle. The company, whose clients include Heineken, Audi and Google, employs 65 in NYC and LA.

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