Category Archives: Media

What is Experience Strategy?


There is a real snobbery around experiences. It plays out both client and agency side in key discussions about budget allocations and in where creatives and planners desire to work. And yet experiences have power like no other media to create real engagement via a powerful combination of emotion and dwell time. And they provide an exciting challenge – because the best experiences  deliver concepts and approaches that cohere whilst allowing for multiple brand engagements in one space.

But is there anything that distinguishes strategy for experiences from creative strategy for say a print ad, or a radio placement? I have had planners tell me that if you can deliver strategy for either one of these you can easily do strategy for experiences.

Of course you can. But can you do it well?

There are 2 key factors that are additive to traditional approaches which are essential to making experience strategies work

1) understanding multi-layered communications in physical space and

2) a deep knowledge of human behavior in a physical space.
Let me give you an example – you would think that you could take a tv ad and show it on screen inside a physical experience.  However, a busy physical space does not allow for the same levels of attention which means key messages are lost. There is too much noise, no one is going to sit and follow your train of thought, they have very different priorities in the space, which may well include seeing other brands.

Almost all experiences now include physical, digital, media and social elements. Understanding how each one communicates and engages, what people will actually do and how creatives can push at boundaries is essential for briefing and target setting.

Or as another example, take wear and tear. You might think your behavioral economics course has given you everything you need to devise effective experiences. But even as an experienced strategist you may misjudge human interactions with physical objects in a marketing space. For instance, if you direct creatives towards delicate public engagements you need to be 100% clear that your audience is the kind that won’t destroy them by picking at them, knocking against them or deliberately trying to break them. Or steal bits of them. Which is basically no audience I have ever encountered. So you then have to be clear with creatives on protection that is brand appropriate.

So there are disciplines here that don’t cross over when devising strategies for other platforms, but are essential in devising experience strategies that are of any use to creatives. If brand  planners are “voice of the consumer” in the creative process working out what communications need to message on to reach the right  consumers and comms planner give the strategic rigor to the implementation of the idea within media, experiential  strategists do both. But they also need a deep understanding of what that means in a digital context and a physical context from creative to UX.

Approaching experience strategy without understanding these nuances results in ineffective, sloppy experiences that frustrate, or worse, bore the consumer. And no one wants that.

Exploring an experience planner’s  skillset 

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Brain Food for 2017


New Year, New You etc ad nauseam. I don’t know about you but I think we ought to adopt resolutions we have some hope of following. Clearly all that fitness and diet stuff is not something I feel able to commit to. However, it’s not hard for me to resolve to read some good brain food type books, I’d read a toilet roll if there was something written on it, and committing to feeding my mind will be ‘improving’. So here are my recommended reads for the next few months or so, including ones I have read, am reading and have on my list…

  1. nonobviousNon-Obvious 2017 – Do you tire of ridiculous trend predictions you can’t apply to your job? Wake yourself up with these highly applicable, just-round-the-corner developments. Rohit Bargava breaks down the trends into consumable chunks with concrete recommendations on how to apply them to your business or client. There are useful examples for case studies to follow up on and statistics and facts that back up his statements. What’s even better is that he is prepared to stand by his methods to the extent that he lists all his previous trends from the last 4 years with an assessment of how accurate they were. That’s confidence.
  2. timeparadoxThe Time Paradox – Ever wondered why your mate spends everything he has on amazing holidays and sound systems while you can’t bring yourself to buy a new pair of socks? Wonder no longer. While it may not be the only reason for the difference between you The Time Paradox certainly explains a lot. Author Phillip Zimbardo is a psychologist and applies his learning and experience to the question of how perceptions of time affect human behavior. From the impact of salaries vs wages to the reasons why some work their lives away for a future they can only enjoy when they are too decrepit to experience it our perceptions of time impact on everything from relationships to money to careers to hobbies. Get it to understand yourself and others.
  3. steelbreezeOn the steel breeze – I’m a big advocate of SF to provide a glimpse into imminent trends and reflect on undercurrents going on in society right now. The latest from Alastair Reynolds  is beautifully written (like all his others), scientifically intriguing and reflects on questions of ecology, identity and conspiracy. What’s not to like? Give yourself the gift of escape.
  4. inevitableThe Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Developments that will shape our world – This is one on my ‘to read’ list. It lists such topics as ‘Becoming’, ‘Sharing’ and ‘Questioning’ which are good starts on their own. Throw in the fact that the books is written by Kevin Kelly who launched Wired and has been thinking about this stuff for years and I am excited to see what this book sparks.
  5. personalityPersonality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery – Did you know that personality tests are a far more accurate way of assessing whether someone is right for your organization? And yet as managers we prefer to rely on our shakey and easily influenced instincts. The Enneagram is one of many personality tests out there, but I have found it personally very helpful in understanding myself and others in work and at home, particularly since it understands that people express themselves differently when under stress than they do when feeling good about life. Expand your self-understanding.

Best Use of Social Media at the Experience Design and Technology Awards


screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-5-19-14-pmWell, the title says it all. We are very pleased to have won with Social Square for Ford. It represents a different approach to social that Imagination explored in Europe with Ford but were fully able to implement at the Detroit autoshow 2106 and in subsequent autoshows. While most social media at events focuses on a short burst of high profile activity from some very high profiles influencers to drive reach and attention we take a different tack.

Our focus is always the visitor to the stand. Across a year about 35 million people attend autoshows big and small. And they buy cars. High numbers are 3 month intenders, it’s a highly concentrated bundle of good for any brand. We focus on the visitors’ needs and how they behave as social interactors. Because of this we construct moments and conversations to appeal to them as they navigate the show and share their experiences with their own audiences, large and small. For them the day they attend is Day 1. They may not even pick up on the big ticket PR social media that happens at press day, because they aren’t the target market for that vehicle. But they are still influential. We then pair that focus on visitors with audience appropriate influencers who are also presenters. Their focus is what happens at show, encouraging people on stand to interact and giving them the reward of social attention and engagement.

It’s a strategy that works, garnering Ford a reach of 13,500,000 across the 10 day period of the Detroit autoshow across all channels and with 30,686 Engaged minutes on YouTube.

Social used to be more about conversation, I feel it’s moving towards the same old shouting we used to see from traditional media. Yes that has its place, but experiential social is just as effective and focused on the buying public. And it’s their interaction which drove our reach and engagement, so I’m doubly proud of this award.

SXSW Panelpicker – Please vote!


Vote-PanelPicker-Idea-FBSome members of the interactive team at Imagination and I have put 4 proposals to SXSW for panels/workshops run for next year.
We are really interested in the intersection between brands and memory, in the way that digital brands manifest themselves in physical space and in the evolving role of experience in our culture. Plus we love Detroit!
Our proposed talks reflect these interests and we need votes to move forward to be considered by the organizing committee. So this is a shameless request for your vote! Below are the proposals.
Why vote?
  1. Experts like Disney are increasingly using digital to create memories, while we of course are doing it every time we post on Instagram or share on Facebook. The intersection of physical and digital for brands is a space where you can explore memories and create new loyalties, lasting relationships that build favorable opinion. We think that’s interesting and we are constantly building experiences like this for our clients. So we created a talk called
    Branding Memories 
    A panel discussion w/ Darell Bryja of Ford and Brittany (our social influencer) about how Imagination creates memories with brands using digital to extend the experience – http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/62017
  2. In a world where you can grab and Uber who needs a car? In a world where you can hire a curated wardrobe who needs clothes? My colleague and I discuss.  Actually myself and my colleague differ on where the sharing economy is going, (to the point of argument!) but we do both believe that experience is key to business evolution moving forward.
    Death of ownership and the Rise of Experience
    Yann Caloghiris and myself bring an idiosyncratic argumentative technique to the stage in a speaker presentation. Discussion on the serious topic of why Imagination’s approach to experience creation is going to become ever more important.
    http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/64796
  3. There is a quiet conversation going on between the way digital brands think of themselves and the interests of the Millennial generation who value experience more highly than any other generation. In fact, some 76% of millennials, compared with 59% of boomers, said they would rather spend on experiences than on material things, according to new research from Eventbrite, a ticketing company. We are proposing to run a workshop that takes brands through our visioning process to explore what their experiential might look like and how it might manifest.
  4. Digital to Physical
    A workshop that will help start ups and digital brands to create a physical space that makes them stand out
    http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/64811
  5. We work out of Detroit, so we love it, so it’s us vs Everybody. But actually, more and more people are interested in Detroit and we know some interesting people so we thought, why not bring them together to explore what makes Detroit a great place for tech start-ups and established businesses

    Detroit the Unlikely Hotbed for Tech Start ups
    A panel discussion on why Detroit is an up and comer for tech start ups with partners like Gunner and Vectorform.
    http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/64792


  6. Finally, why not have a laugh at our videos if nothing else?

Tech and Experience 2015


It’s January so trends are like totally over. However, way back in December they weren’t over and we posted a number of great examples of things we think will impact on the experience world in 2015 on the Imagination Labs blog. Here are our punts:

Wearables
Clunky watches that look like they came out of 1978 and are an extra in The Prisoner? That’s so 2014, darling. 2015 is the year that wearables break out of the smartphone industry and into other sectors, notably fashion. You can already buy Ralph Lauren’s Polo Tech Shirt which tracks and streams real-time biometric data from your workout shirt to your phone. And next November sees the launch of the crowd-funded Olive bracelet that helps monitor your stress levels and then provides solutions. The product is beautiful and the science behind it is robust. Or what about Smart Wallet? Smart Wallet is connected to your phone and includes GPS so you won’t lose it, an app enabled tracker so you can find it when it’s lost in the bottom of your bag…ahem…and a charger for your iPhone.

These wearables are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what major companies are creating and what is being developed via crowd funding sites like Indiegogo. Beauty and usability are coming together in the human space and 2015 will see their use escalating in the early adopter segment.

How might this impact on experiences?
Networking badges for events, personalised visits to experience spaces,

Internet of Things
Of course in many ways Wearables are just one expression of the Internet of Things (IoT) – objects connected to the internet in the same way that phones, laptops or iPads are. Gartner predicts that by 2020 there will be nearly 26 billion devices connected to the Internet of Things from heart monitoring implants to biochip transponders on animals. Perhaps the key development for 2015 is the adoption and spread of iBeacon technology.

iBeacon is a technology from Apple that works with both iPhone and Android systems or other device to perform actions when in close proximity to an iBeacon. There are already brands using this IoT technology to deliver enhanced experiences, brands like Virgin Atlantic. Virgin Atlantic have set up a network of iBeacons that offer a variety of services to users with more planned, For example, Upper Class passengers approaching the Upper Class security channel can receive a notification for their phone to open their electronic boarding pass ready to be scanned by security. In the airport proper, passengers may receive special partner offers, such as 0% commission as they pass the Money Corp currency exchange booth. BA and KLM are experimenting with the similar technology, NFC to implement luggage tags that enable 35 second bag drops.

But IoT goes beyond this to home management tools like Google’s Nest which can help manage not simply temperature but also security via your smartphone, connected cars and car services like Car2Go that allow you to track and pay for car sharing time via your phone or smart outlets like Belkin’s plug that enables you to switch appliances on and off in your home remotely.

How might this impact on experiences?

Spaces can become intelligent, trackable and tailored to each individual’s experience. We will see the beginnings of this in 2015.

Intelligent spaces
Finally, the previous trends find one of their key expressions inside a larger trend, that of Intelligent spaces.

When you can fix up your visitors with elegant and informed wearables and load up your space with objects that talk to the internet and each other you can create the conditions to deliver spaces that respond to the use of the participants. Visitors can move from being passive users who take what they’re given to actively engaged users who impact on the space by taking us up on our offer for more engagement, picking and choosing only what they want or passively impactively the space through their emotions and arousal levels. Saatchi and Saatchi’s New Directors Show case at Cannes this year used technology to assess the audience reaction to the films they were watching and then displayed that real time on wearables and in displays around the auditorium. Imagine emotions of visitors influencing the lighting displays, heat or even smells in the space. At a low level this kind of responsive experience will definitely be offered up in 2015, how far it goes is dependent on the bravery of brands and agencies as they work together.

Bobbi Brown gets millenials


Slowly, slowly brands are coming round to the idea that sharing their social media channel with other brands, providing free information and allowing for self-discovery is the way to an engaged, interested and loyal audience in social. And this is particularly true of millennials.

Here’s a great example – Bobbi Brown has launched (on Sep 9th) a new channel on YouTube that combines all these factors, and adding editorial voice from well-known beauty bloggers.

There is so much great video content on YouTube around creating looks, basic beauty etc from interesting voices like Lauren Luke and it’s all part of a trend towards a more experience based conversation between brands and individuals. I’ve been reading Joseph Pine’s book  The Experience Economy  which makes exactly this point. Consider the change in McDonalds from Commodity (cheap street burger) to Service (best burger fast) to Experience (burger + green coffee-style, linger-longer environment). Take a look at their latest ad. It focuses not on the product but on the allegedly lovely unifying community experience that eating a McDonalds brings to the world (ok you can sense my cynicism here…)

And now for those of you who clicked to get real Bobbi Brown inside info, here’s her key tutorial on creating the perfect face…

 

 

Things, films and going live in social – Part 2 Killa Kela


As you know, t’s been all go for social media at work recently. Not least because in around 2 weeks flat we filmed edited and launched a film with the sounds of Killa Kela,the beatboxer, and the Focus ST.

Why a beatboxer with an ST?  Well, cars lend themselves so well to videos of “hooning” beauty shots and the engine revving. But this car has a special “sound symposer” that has been developed from Mustang technology so you can see why we’d want to make a feature out of that. And then of course there is the target audience magic that has to be applied which makes Killa Kela’s vocal stylings a perfect match to demonstrate precision and power.

Enough of the strategy stuff already. It’s a great film! Hope you enjoy it. And of course, if you do please don’t feel backward about coming forward to share it!