A friend of mine recently went to a party where the guests spent about an hour playing Nintendo DS. Not that unusual until you learn that the DS is a handheld game system, so each guest had his own unit. At age 34, my friend is not one to bring video games to a dinner party. In this case, the host provided systems for everyone. The host, you see, was technically Nintendo.
The event exemplifies a clever new way brands are using experiential marketing to build awareness and affinity. In this case, the party was at a friend's home, and it only partially revolved around the Nintendo system. After playing with toys for a while, guests moved on to more traditional party behavior... chatting, noshing, clanking glasses. But Nintendo footed the bill, and happily.
What better introduction to the product than a friendly soiree? Sure, it's an audience of 20 people, but if they're evangelists and influencers (in this case, all 30-something Bay Area marketing and tech professionals -- big users of social media), you've packed a punch for very little cost. (Guests did get to keep the DS. So now they *have* to say good things, right?)
Sign me up! I entertain all the time, and I could use support from a sponsor. Enter Houseparty.com, a site that connects marketers with willing hosts.
The arrangement has to make sense, of course. I will not be hosting the Ford Taurus Game Day House Party. (I don't watch sports. I don't even own a car!). And my friends would divorce me for receiving an invitation to the MetaboLife Less Is More get-together. (Are you saying I'm fat?!) But with the right product placement (hello wineries, Brit pop bands, and board-game makers), I can promise an enthusiastic audience.