WRITTEN BY MediaMonks
With omnipresent technology on the horizon, are we headed toward a cyberpunk dystopia?
That was the big question MediaMonks posed to the audience at its Fast Co. Fast Track session, offering attendees food for thought to mull over with drinks. Rejecting a future in which pop-ups and banner ads vie for our attention literally everywhere we look, speakers Eric Wagliardo and Jouke Vuurmans offered a more optimistic view. By using emerging technology like VR, AR and artificial intelligence to delight audiences, Wagliardo told the audience, “we can use creativity unconstrained by the past and the laws of physics.”
The theme of the talk anticipates a near-future in which wearables or ubiquitous AR will revolutionize the way we interact with media and technology, just like how the iPhone ushered in the era of smartphones. As these technologies become more consumer-friendly, brands might be biting their nails wondering if they’re ready for the new digital landscape. Are you?
One of the more compelling details from the talk was about a humble plank of wood used in the Jack Ryan Experience, a 60,000 square-foot activation that pulled together some of the most cutting-edge VR technology to provide a 4D, immersive experience. Through a VR headset, the plank transformed into a startling chasm for participants to cross in virtual reality. That such a basic material in reality could become an intimidating environment to traverse demonstrates the power to create compelling experiences from just a simple object. With so many elements and gorgeous tech to compete with, who would expect a plank of wood to steal the show?
VR can be tricky, though: without a proper “hero device” like the iPod or iPhone to put the tech in almost everyone’s pockets, VR experiences must often be tethered to a specific environment for participants to don a headset and enter your world. This can be a big investment in terms of reserving a space as well as providing a rig to host the experience, though it’s well worth it if you’re hosted within a venue that allows you to reach your audience in a meaningful way. For some brands, a simpler solution might be to create an AR experience that participants may enjoy via nearly any mobile device.
Another benefit to AR is that it can enable a charming connection with objects or pre-existing campaigns that wasn’t possible before. One of the demos featured at the Fast Track event invited attendees to scan an ad for Kiwi shoe polish featuring a Van Gogh self-portrait, which prompted the artist to leap from the poster, ready to try on several pairs of shoes with the user.
The AR app was a remix of an award-winning Ogilvy campaign that “completed” various famous portraits by adding views of the subjects’ shoes. Partnering with Ogilvy and Google, MediaMonks was able to bring the Van Gogh portrait to life by stepping into the real world and responding to different shoe styles with animations and props. The experience of helping the famous artist try on shoes is humorous and helps the user relate to an esoteric character they certainly recognize, but may not have previously understood.
A large-scale project with emerging tech can be intimidating. While it can be difficult to identify where to begin planning bigger projects, there are several levels of engagement to design for in VR and AR, allowing brands who want to dive into emerging tech to start small and provide increasingly immersive experiences from there. One way to provide an engaging experience is to focus on one simple, primary mode of interaction. For example, the Kiwi case demoed at the Fast Track event required only a poster and a mobile device to render the character on the screen, along with some options for interacting with that character. This simple template could be useful for brands new to the emerging tech space, who also want to provide engaging, emotional experiences.
Seeing is believing.
And just like how the app brings the print ad featuring Van Gogh to life, you can use your app to remix existing assets from current or past campaigns, thereby boosting their ROI—not bad for a budget-strapped brand who wants to dive in on AR.
If a business has a little bit of extra room in their budget, they can elevate the same experience detailed above by staging it in an appealing way. While the primary mode of interaction might be to bring a character, object or other experience into the real world via AR, offering a set for participants to play with the experience can further immerse them. In the case of the Kiwi app, MediaMonks constructed a tiny room at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity decorated to look like a city street you might find in a Van Gogh portrait, allowing participants to step into the artist’s world (without the need for a VR rig and other expensive tech).
If one theme is clear across the Innovation Festival, it’s that the quickening pace of new media and platforms are challenging brands to think outside the box in providing new, experiences to enchant and inform their audiences. We were happy to allow guests into the hallowed chambers of the MediaMonks monastery to impart a secret or two about our process. But can the students surpass the master? We look forward to seeing what you create!