Have you ever watched a kid dipping their hands in sticky, gooey, laundry-defeating slime? Their ear-to-ear smiles tell a story of pure joy. One look at their faces is enough to bring back happy, drippy-soft-serve on a summer day, muddy soccer field childhood memories. Childhood memories and experiences go hand-in-hand, so it was just a matter of time (or slime) until this slippery trend developed into large-scale slime experiences — and not just for kids, but for grownups as well.
Experiences are just one piece of a larger “slime economy,” which is no mere novelty. As NPR reports, Etsy is filled with slime peddlers — and that’s not meant as an insult. Instagram has over 5 million posts hashtagged #slime with hands stretching goo, and YouTube has slime celebrities like Karina Garcia, with over 6 million subscribers and currently taking in as much as $200,000 a month from sponsorships. For marketers looking to deliver novel experiences that play into current trends, slime — as low-tech as it might seem — is too big to overlook.
Big Time Slime
Recently, Nickelodeon brought “Slime City” to Atlanta, a 20,000 foot installation located in the trendy Buckhead neighborhood. Based on the epic sliming tradition of Nick’s early hit show “You Can’t Do That on Television” and extended through their annual Kids Choice Awards, visitors made slime, got slimed, and left covered in slime, all the while Instagramming the experience with their hopefully slime-resistant phones.
As Sharon Cohen, executive vice president of The Nick Experience told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Our iconic slime is the ultimate symbol of free-spirited mess and the physical embodiment of the fun and irreverent spirit of Nickelodeon.” Using nostalgia plus fun, the exhibit tapped into a powerful, memory-making experience for its attendees — and that includes the parents who grew up watching those ‘80s and ‘90s slime-based game shows.
The Magic of Touch
Slime, while distinct in its oozy nature, is arguably part of a larger trend in exhibits: tactile, hands-on activities that tap into childlike wonder. Instagrammable experiences like Happy Place, where you can dance in the world’s largest confetti dome, or the Museum of Ice Cream, where you can slide into a pool of sprinkles, are bringing joyful tactile experiences to cities around the country.
The estate of Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, is soon opening the Dr. Seuss Experience in Boston. Among other activities, visitors can travel through a balloon-covered maze evoking “Oh, the Places You Will Go” or wander through a forest of Truffula trees with the Lorax.
“Our goal is to have children shriek with joy,” says Mark Manuel, CEO of Kiburn Live, the company presenting the experience with Dr. Seuss Enterprises. No word if they provide tissues for teary, nostalgia-ridden grown-ups.
Just Add Joy
What can we learn from using kid-inspired joy as marketing tool? While children respond to fun, silly, and/or gross experiences, grownups do as well. Clearly, consumers are craving fun, wrapped up in nostalgic experiences that evoke strong reactions and bring out their inner child — even in a work setting.
Now it’s true, your audience isn’t going to appreciate unwittingly being slimed à la Nickelodeon, but embracing the spirit of childlike wonder can take many forms in a wide variety of experiential scenarios. Something as simple as an art station, a “Sneeze Wall,” or a tactile maze can make a strong impression on visitors, and leave them with a positive brand association and memory. The best upside? Everyone gets to have a whole lot of fun while it happens.