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Generation X – Help us with research

The Imagination Insight team have a regular cadence of releasing reports, but to deliver those reports we need to do some research!

We are well into a set of research into Generation X, those people between the ages of 37 and 51 who are often considered by marketers as Parents or Singles, Working Women,  but not often considered as a generation. What does that mean? It means that fundamental drivers of Generation X’s thoughts and opinions are lost in the scramble to get their money. It also means that products and services that might be genuinely useful to Gen X are never even dreamed up – because the focus is on their functions more than their identities.

This doesn’t happen for Millennials, Gen Z or Boomers by the way. Marketers are all over them and their motivations. If you are a Gen X (like me) you are probably shrugging your shoulders or laughing cynically. It’s always been like this for us, right?

So I would like to invite you to share some of your opinions and experiences. It might be fun for you and would be incredibly useful to us in creating new experiences that really work for Generation X.

Visit Survey on Survey Monkey – click here


Winner Telly Awards 2016

The Detroit Imagination team has won two Telly Awards for films we created for Ford’s giant LED (130ft x 15ft). The Escape Urban Adventures film for which the team won the Silver is below (the Silver is the highest award in the Tellys – go figure)  They also won a Bronze award for a film about the Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid

It’s always nice to win awards and particularly when you are proud of the work. I think the team did a great job making work that really conveys the identity of the products and speaks to the audience. I didn’t work on them myself so I’m allowed to big them up!


Non-planning books for planners 4 – Invisible Romans

19241863Another in the series of books I think are useful for planners to read that appear to have nothing to do with planning/strategy. This book is, as the title suggests, about the Romans who never appear in the works of the great writers – prostitutes, slaves, merchants, people like you and me.

Culture is consumed by the average person but we get fixated on the super stars, the rich, the famous, the extraordinary. This is particularly true when we think about history. It’s not surprising and may not even be wrong, but it’s not helpful if you are trying to create interesting experiences today. To do that you need to focus on the average Jo because they are the ones who are likely to engage with and be influenced by what you’ve created.

So don’t go looking for the extreme, look for the common, shared experience of the nobodys and you will find that you create communications that actually mean something.

This book is also a great reality check on local states of privilege in history as compared with our own state of privilege. Are we the senatorial class of the modern Roman empire? That’s a different blog post.

the Indian netflix of books

juggernaut-2What a great idea – create a netflix for books. Indian app Juggernaut is exploring delivering books to people including social recommendation, allowing writers to talk to their readers and specifically designed for smartphones.


interestingly, the approach is focused on short form and serialised works and there is an editorial focus on popular and commercially successful in India, such as romance, sex, crime, self-help and fantasy, non-fiction, and books for young adults and teens.

According to Mashable India has the second-largest and one of the fastest-growing smartphone markets in the world with 220 million smartphone users. This, combined with a clear focus on the user’s needs both from a content and a usability perspective makes me think Juggernaut is going to live up to its name.


Best experiential programme

Very proud that Ford’s redesigned experience at the New York International Autoshow won the award for the Best New York International Auto Show Experiential Program.

A team from across Imagination in Detroit and London worked really hard to drive this vision through and bring it to life ,with great client support. It’s lovely when your hard work is recognized.

Here’s a quote,

The company’s live “social square” as well as other changes the automaker made to its display stand pushed it over the edge, says Scotty Reiss, co-founder, SheBuysCars.comand president of the International Motor Press Association.

“The entire stand has been completely redesigned for this year’s shows and integrates the lifestyle experience into the models,” Reiss notes. “So, for instance, you don’t just see a crossover, but rather a lifestyle you can identify with. There is merchandise that consumers can buy, a social media station, a button-making stand and in the truck area on the lower level they have a BraunAbility Explorer that lets customers see and experience how they can still have the style, capability and fun they want in an SUV.”

What’s particularly different is our approach to social which focuses on connecting with people who might ordinarily avoid autoshows altogether. Check it out…


Notes from austin

On the third day at SXSW I thought I might note a few things that I have observed in the talks and the environments at the conference.


Makey-makey spaces
There are makers here and there are makey-style spaces. Brands are using natural textures and combining them with classic digital materials to create lounges or stands that will appeal to Millennials

Coffee at the 3M Lounge
Coffee making at the 3M lounge
Cardboard trees at PBS
Cardboard trees at PBS









Human and Machine
There’s a lot about interfaces – not surprising.  A lot about coming together, again not surprising, particularly with Obama’s visit yesterday. There’s a feeling of questioning and trying to understand what the interface means and unsurprisingly there’s lots of stuff on VR. It comes up quite a bit in questions as well as in the sponsored spaces. Unsurprisingly, with the launch of Gear and the latest Samsung which connects with it,  Samsung have a lounge which puts a moving VR pod at its heart.

Digital identity and personal identity is coming through strongly with a least 2 talks about how you exist on the dark net and two unrelated talks on the way identity plays out with Gen Z  – fluidly, without prejudice.

Dove's twitter campaign on beautyDove have a launch of a new campaign #SpeakBeautiful which looks at how women talk about beauty on twitter.





Experience design beyond the practicalities
Many people here are talking about the human side of experiences ie the UX around emotions, scents and sights rather than how to build a good one or ‘what I did for Brand X’. There was a fascinating talk about building experiences for online retail properties – most of which revolve around creating offline communities and providing physical moments eg Kit and Ace  hosting supper clubs without a sales end in view, or Disney designing spaces around safety and happiness.

More information as more themes and ideas emerge.


VR experiences

landing_1Imagination has been at three major events in NA and EMEA in the last month, the Detroit and Toronto auto shows,  and Mobile World Congress.

What struck me about the experience environments in all three places was the explosion of VR across brand experience. Not surprising at MWC, particularly with the Galaxy  Gear 360 launch and Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance at their press conference to talk about the importance of VR (including Facebook’s Oculus of course).

But what about autoshows? In Detroit and Toronto we developed and installed an immersive experience for Ford. It was a way of showcasing the safety technologies of the latest Edge in a 3d environment. And Ford weren’t the only company using VR. Toyota had a Distracted Driving simulator for teens that used VR to recreate the every day dangers of driving And even the Detroit Free Press had a VR environment.

Why would car manufacturers use VR at autoshows? It’s not a product or part of a product – not yet. It’s all about the experience.

Firstly, VR offers manufacturers the opportunity to immerse your visitors in your messages with added richness. That creates the all important dwell time that raises brand favoraiblity. Secondly, use of  VR is a signifier of a tech savvy attitude that is attractive in automotive brands and raises favorability.

But just because you can do VR doesn’t mean you will do it well. VR, like any engagement in an experience environment, has to have a purpose, has to tell a relevant story. That’s easy when you are promoting the new season of Game of Thrones and you have a ready made story universe to immerse people in.  This Game of Thrones VR is a a great example what VR can do to completely immerse someone in a virtual space.

But what if you aren’t selling a story instead you are promoting a product? Here a couple of questions we ask ourselves when designing VR experiences.

  1. What is the link between the product and the experience? What message about the product are you giving to the user? There are a number of pretty VR experiences that don’t do anything for the brand except function like a host with a loud hailer shouting ‘We love tech, look over here’. If you do this you’ll look like you’re jumping on a bandwagon.
  2. Am I force feeding facts? Don’t go the other way and focus on information overload just to make sure you squeeze every last messaging moment from the platform. The power in VR is still the power to delight and surprise. Use it to create a delightful moment around your product.
  3. Is this idea just a replica of something you can do in real life? Rollercoasters – they’re everywhere in VR and no wonder, they create a visual and physical reaction.  But it’s the oldest VR experience in the book. Instead try to look for places to take your audience – macro, micro, imagined or real but completely inaccessible.
  4. Are we engaging the senses? Does our visual arc create physical responses? Could we involve other senses? Smell, sound and touch, take the experience further. And why not taste?

VR allows brands to give ever deeper brand experiences to new and potential customers. It still has the wow otherwise you can be sure it wouldn’t have been so prominent at MWC. But it’s not just for tech brands and not just for stand alone spaces. Experiential environments provide the ideal platform for VR.

But let’s not have another rollercoaster.