Pushing people out of their comfort zones


Pushing people out of their comfort zones and helping them conquer a fear or worry is a sure-fire way to ensure brand recall. A beautiful mix of fear, adrenaline, endorphins or elation will make sure your brand stays front-of-mind.

There’s a famous saying that “life begins outside your comfort zone”. For me, that sounds like motivational horse manure spouted out by another Instagram PT, but I’m a cynic so can’t rule out that there might actually be something to it.

When you look back at your most memorable experiences and successes, a lot of them fall into the category outside your comfort zone. For everyone it’s different, unfortunately we live in anxiety ridden times; public speaking, the big game, sitting exams, going to the gym… whatever it is, fear can be a huge deterrent. Having said that, it’s hard to beat the feeling of elation mixed with relief when you conquer your own personal Everest, however big or small. This mix of feelings and relative chemicals aids you in recalling those moments with increased clarity (albeit you might be slightly taller and better looking in your mind).

It’s something a lot of brands have copped on to – pushing people out of their comfort zones enables them to recall the experience in much more, and if done right the positive sentiment is hard to match.

Here’s a couple of great examples of brands pushing people out of their comfort zones ever so slightly to achieve success:

  • Catch Magic Hour 

Outdoor apparel brand Peak Performance created a social media led campaign to get people up and running to the most stunning places at the exact time it looks its best. The “magic hour” in questions occurs twice a day – sunrise and sunset – when the world looks its best. Peak Performance created digital pop-up shops with limited edition clothes that only opened for these two hours a day. The catch? You had to make your way to some extremely remote but stunning places to access them. Worth the effort? Magic! 

  • Heineken Departure Roulette 

Heineken is a brand that constantly entices people to leave their comfort zone. Its hugely successful stunt Departure Roulette showed that brands can build on people’s spontaneity to generate positive brand affinity. Arriving to an airport and gambling your travel ticket for an unknown destination would worry even the foolhardiest of travellers, but one would think you’d be safe taking on a major brand’s challenge safely enough? Right?

The stunt was part of a wider campaign called #Dropped which hilariously challenged people to complete a series of tasks to win a once-in-a-lifetime trip… fun fun… but there was a twist which Irishman Murray Aston found out when his blindfold was removed in a remote part of the Philippines to find out… well, take a look:

  • The North Face Pinnacle Project 

Outdoor apparel and equipment brand The North Face created a pop-up shop in the Italian Alps that could only be reached by hiking a mile up into the Dolomites. Footfall was clearly not the KPI for this little red showroom, but adventure is certainly the brand’s central theme and this is a perfect example of creating buzz, content and authenticity. The stunt was used to launch a pop-up tour around major cities where people could see the goods first hand without the blood, sweat and (maybe) tears of a hike. Those that managed to make the trek were rewarded with freebies and the remaining clothes were auctioned off for charity. A brand with a clear message and purpose. Personally, the office stairs looks daunting enough sometimes, but I get the intrigue that would drive people to try visit. 

  • The Economist Discomfort Food 

Newpapers and media houses are in a constant battle to get people to dip into their pockets for quality journalism. In a world where news and info is “free” this surprise, shock and challenge piece of work caught people’s attention, rewarded them for their bravery and got The Economist’s message across that it is investigating and writing about the world as we should know it. 

  • Mountain Rave 

*cough* agency plug *cough*. The last example I’m going to show you is a Honey+Buzz campaign for outdoor adventure retailer 53 Degrees North. The idea is simple, give people an amazing experience that takes them slightly out of their comfort zone (Up a mountain at 5am on a Monday) and highlights what the brand is all about. Fun fun. 

If curiosity killed the cat, emotion was the gun. Engaging peoples fear, interest and elation is a certain way to get people talking about your brand. Taking into account that fear and effort will drive your direct interactions down, the juxtaposition is that it also has the ability to drive your reach and awareness through the roof. Pushing people from an experiential marketing point of view will also sort the passive consumers from the advocates, which is where your real ROI resides.

- GC

Gavin Coffey