Engaging In Our New World

Rich Rizzardi

27 May 2020

The coronavirus or COVID-19 has created a great deal of uncertainty in our world. It’s forced business to simultaneously develop and execute contingency plans. It’s led to a pause on our economy, and our industry. And for some, it’s put doubt into the future. Here at STAR, we’re rallying around optimism. As we take actions to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff and families, we believe there is no greater time for all us to shine. 


There is a thought-provoking intersection of decreasing consumer sentiment and mostly positive attitudes relative to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is particularly significant given how the American economy is driven by consumer-centric behaviors.

It’s no surprise that sentiment is negative right now and will likely continue until things gets better.

      • 72% of consumers agree there will be an economic recession
      • 71% of consumers feel the worst of the virus is not over
      • 66% of consumers are trying to avoid public spaces as much as possible
        Source:  BCG, COVID19 Consumer Sentiment Snapshot March 2020

Daunting statistics, especially when we’re in the business of creating experiences that connect people. There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel.

4A’s Research is closely monitoring consumer reaction to brand communications. Their findings show that people are generally optimistic.

      • 56% of consumers are happy to hear how brands are helping our communities
      • 43% of consumers find reassuring to hear from brands they know & trust during uncertain times
      • Only 15% of consumers said they did not want to hear from brands at this time
        Source:  4A’s Research Services March 2020


Many brands paused during the Great Recession, making it hard to come back. To move forward during today’s pandemic, we must remain focused on long-term relationships. We must also be open to new ideas and experiences. There are, in fact, many tactics companies and brands can leverage immediately, like digital experiences and live-stream exhibits. If people can’t come to you, bring your experience to them.

As “Stay at Home” orders are lifted, STAR has the resources and designated flex space to create virtual, live-stream exhibits. We can help you think about the right experience at the right time. We’ll help you go well beyond an online version of a traditional physical event.

Here are some ideas to re-engage during this challenging time:

  • See this as an opportunity to create new connections in engaging new ways. For example, consider a morning news show incorporating stories, guest interviews and mini brand segments. Planning new approaches like this now, will help you mitigate the impact of large events that have been postponed.
  • Make virtual and live streaming an ongoing component of your in-person events. This will help you move forward as audiences adjust to how they gather and engage.
  • As we rebuild communities, living your brand purpose and demonstrating your relevance is paramount. Messaging and tone need to be revisited for effective re-engagement. Ideas and designs need to demonstrate:
    Screen Shot 2020-04-06 at 9.45.32 AM
  • Strategic solutions that address the challenge of COVID-19 is the foundation for moving forward. During this extraordinary time, marketers are searching for solutions that transform brand strategy into activation.
    Screen Shot 2020-04-02 at 12.11.25 PM



    Our country is resilient. And while people are eager to regather, we’ll have to be prepared and proactive to facilitate that with care.

    Create Experiences that are Mobile

    We have an opportunity to improve people’s lives and make a difference with small, tailored experiences that communicate with care and are a part of rebuilding and reconnecting. Community as catalyst will be a driving force. Make your connection about the people, the heroes on the frontlines. Put a smile on faces; temper with reality. Bring smaller, authentic experiences to local communities with a larger brand connection. 

    Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 12.26.03 PM

    Restoring Retail

    Observational behavior changes is never so evident than in retail today. We must look at design modifications that add value to the brand experience, not detract from it.  Consumers will desire settings that bring comfort, not the stark reminder of the virus.  The opportunity now is to integrate and implement technologies that provide “touchless” environments.  To provide visual cues that reinforce safety and comfort.  To create new, out-of-store environments that use pop-up/mobile stores curbside or in parking lots.

Think Regional, Plan for Big

Be focused on regional events and trade shows as people regain confidence in large social gatherings. Identifying regional shows allows you to effectively communicate your messages and measure results. It will also help you gain valuable insights while managing travel expenses. After all, business goals will need to be achieved as we restart the economy.

Sports at the Center of Recovery

There is a societal affinity for sports. You can look at various points of our country’s recovery and find that sports demonstrated the human connection of bringing people, hope and communities together. We can recall unique moments of sports history, like the country uniting around the 1980 Miracle on Ice hockey team. Or, Whitney Houston’s moving rendition of the National Anthem at Super Bowl XXV. And of course, there’s professional & college sports being the rally of hope, supporting those on the frontlines.

As we look forward, new opportunities should be considered in how we use venues, proprieties and experiences.

As you reset your plans and look at reengaging, keep the following ideas in mind. Authentic, genuine connections are more than welcomed by your audiences.

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 Let us know what we can do for you.


STAR is an award-winning experiential agency that creates unforgettable, face-to-face experiences for brands in a physical space. For over 25 years, STAR has been a leader in the industry due to its innovative and streamlined approach to strategy, design, and in-house fabrication for global events, retail, corporate interiors, and exhibits. Mark Johnson founded the agency in 1993 and built a state-of-the-art 200,000 square foot fabrication center and warehouse space in 2016, headquartered in Minneapolis, MN. STARs clients include Marvel, Target, 3M, Emerson, Doritos, Sherwin Williams, and the ESPN X-Games. Connect with STAR at www.engagestar.com or on LinkedInFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Rich Rizzardi



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