amika pop up shops with photo booth
January 22nd, 2024 | 7 min read
  • Immersive Experiences

Photo Booths Add Immersive Element to Experiential Marketing

As experiential marketing expands and evolves, brands are looking for ways to provide fresh, engaging, compelling experiences to secure new fans and customers. The primary goal: to engage prospective customers and deepen their connection to the brand. A secondary goal: create experiences participants want to share, via social media or word of mouth. Increasingly, brands are finding that one way to achieve both goals is to introduce more immersive elements into activations and pop-ups. Here, we’ll examine what’s meant by “experiential” and “immersive,” and explore how one technology in particular — the photo booth — can add an immersive element to your brand’s experiential environment.

Experiential vs. Immersive

What makes an experience immersive rather than experiential? The distinction is subtle but important.

Experiential marketing focuses on “engaging with participants through various activities,” according to UK-based agency Draw & Code. “These experiences aim at creating memorable connections between consumers and brands, products, or ideas.” The experience is rooted in the real world, and its goal is to create understanding and connection.

Immersive marketing, on the other hand, is “designed to engage the senses and perception of individuals, making them feel part of a virtual or physical world.” The experience is constructed specifically to encourage participants to get fully invested in this alternate reality — to immerse themselves in it physically and emotionally. Think of immersive marketing as creating a fantasy world designed to capture visitors’ imaginations as well as attention.

And while either experiential marketing might use cutting-edge technology, immersive marketing experiences rely on it, using virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR) and augmented reality (AR) tech to create alternate realities for guests to immerse in more fully.

The technology itself can be a powerful draw for passers-by — it’s easy to understand the appeal of a free VR journey through a new world, for example — and when that technology allows users to save and share the experience via social media, the attraction is that much more powerful. Enter the modern photo booth, which is increasingly less like the old-school, four-photo models and more like a professionally staged photo session or video shoot, infinitely customizable for your brand and instantly shareable by your prospective customers — and for many of them, irresistible.

Not Your Grandparents’ Photo Booth

The term “photo booth” might call to mind the traditional curtained booth, the unpredictable timing of the flash, the paper strip of four photos, but modern photo booths resemble the older models in name and spirit only. A modern photo booth captures fun images of the people who enter it, inspires silliness and creativity in its users, and creates instant keepsakes. The similarity ends there.

Everyone understands the classic photo booth concept, and like that older technology, modern photo booths do include taking photos — but they also do much, much more, and even the relatively simple still-photo aspect comes with several cool twists. Some recent (and popular) examples:

  • Backdrops that allow users to pose in front of an interesting branded background or a green screen
  • Mini-sets that offer users an immersive variation on the backdrop in the form of a three-dimensional environment and objects to interact with
  • Massive photo mosaics, in which photos taken by guests at the event become part of a constantly changing work of art displayed throughout the event’s duration
  • 360-degree booths in which guests stand — or dance, play with props, or goof around — on a platform while a camera rotates a full 360 degrees above them; a soundtrack is often added to the resulting footage, music video-fashion
  • Gifs and boomerangs — brief, jerky, looping mini-videos, instantly meme-able and small enough to share anywhere
  • Augmented and virtual reality videos in which guests interact with realistic animations (which may be customized to suit the brand)

Incorporating Photo Booths into Brand Activations

What if those eager, excited participants posing for the cameras are more interested in their photos and videos than in the brand? Doesn’t that cool technology draw attention away from the very thing you’re promoting? Make sure that “every element and touchpoint points back to your brand,” advises Cassie Edelman, owner of Australian experiential marketing agency Social Exposure. Here are some ways to make that happen:

Brand Everything

Clearly identify your brand via logo or wordmark at every entry point and throughout the activation. Working your logo or products throughout the activation ensures that photos and video taken at the event will feature your brand; where there are videos or photos taken by technology you’re running, you can make sure your logo and messaging are included — think of the watermarks you see on stock photography, but more subtle. Make sure participants leave with something — a product sample, swag, a coupon — with your brand’s logo, URL, and perhaps a QR code for a landing page tied to the activation’s theme or focus.

Stay on Theme

“The photo booth itself can be customized with props, backdrops, and other elements to fit the theme or branding of the activation,” says FX Photo Booths, a photo booth rental company.

Immerse your participants in the “world” of your brand by creating a stylized environment that’s both visually striking and a departure from the surroundings. Participants will want to document this world simply because it’s different.

Create a set that invites visitors into the brand itself. This is easier to envision for some industries than others — a TV show or movie, for example, might re-create an iconic set or scene for users to pose in — but it’s possible with any type of brand or product. For haircare brand Amika, Promobile recently designed a pop-up shop that featured shower- and bath-themed mini-sets — perfect for a product most often used in the shower or tub.

Use Color Strategically

If your brand has a signature color, or color theme, make that a prominent, consistent part of the activation. Amika’s pop-up shop featured multiple photo booths in different on-brand color schemes that tied back to the brand’s packaging, which uses a different color for each product collection.

amika pop up

Collect Data and Connect Socially

Photo booths are nearly irresistible to curious participants. The cutting-edge technology that incorporates video, multiple cameras, and social media-ready formats only heightens visitors’ curiosity and eagerness to join in the fun. Take advantage of this excitement by collecting user data throughout the experience. “There’s a real opportunity to collect valuable data about your guests,” Edelman writes. “From email addresses to specific information, you can use this information to follow up, increase sales, build your next marketing strategy and more importantly, build brand loyalty.”

Booths can be set up to collect email addresses and cell phone numbers. Coupons for free products or steep discounts can encourage participants to provide information or complete surveys.

Make it easy for participants to share on-brand user-generated content online by including hashtags and handles for all your social media channels. Embed hashtags in digital files you share with users.

Make Your Photo Booth Part of the Attraction

Don’t forget that the modern social media-integrated photo booth experience is also what Edelman calls a “photo activation.”

“It’s an opportunity to engage people in experiential marketing activities and events that spark the senses and bring about positive change and positive connections,” Edelman writes.

The photo/video experience is its own activation within the brand activation. Users are having a positive experience with your brand, and depending on what else is happening at the activation — demonstrations, samples, giveaways — they’re also getting special access to your brand in a fun, relaxed environment. Their associations with the brand will be positive, they’ll have digital souvenirs of the experience, they will share those souvenirs across social media, and the connection will be real.


Promobile Marketing is a dynamic experiential marketing agency based in New York City. For over a decade, Promobile Marketing has collaborated with a range of brands—from budding startups to major CPG brands—on immersive marketing campaigns. Get in touch to discuss your next project.