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Experiential design in adland - expect the unexpected!

Experiential design in adland - expect the unexpected!

Experiential or ambient design is on trend in adland. And it will be for the foreseeable future. Old advertising mechanics and ad spaces are getting less and less traction, which is why the industry is coming up with more interactive and immersive concepts, away from the well-trodden paths of advertising. But what is it exactly and what makes it so successful?

Experiential design encompasses several disciplines and is used to create never seen before customer experiences. It combines aspects from many different areas - large format prints, technology, and sometimes built form - to reach the intended target audience on several different levels. The idea is to immerse the viewer into an experience that connects them to their environment and is worth their attention whilst telling a valuable brand story.

A recent ambient campaign that got a lot of media coverage was Foxtel’s Grave of Thrones inside Centennial Park in Sydney. Designed by DDB Sydney and built in collaboration with Revolver/Will O’Rourke and The Glue Society, the activation was created in the lead up to the Game of Thrones series finale and encompassed a 2000 square metre graveyard that paid tribute to the bloodshed over the past seven seasons. The campaign went on to win a Gold Lion at the Cannes Industry Craft Lions this year.

Ambient works well not just because it uses special builds but also because it is created in uncommon places. From using large format custom die-cut vinyl prints on luggage claim belts, sides of snack dispensers, ATMs, stairs, escalator handrails, floors and ceilings of elevators, lamp posts and manhole covers all the way to converting shipping containers into oversized shoe boxes or using custom car wrap, and builds to create real-world versions of common toy cars - no space is off limits.

Co-creating experiences

Experiential design presents an opportunity for print and production houses to outrun their competition by showcasing their abilities and expertise in special builds and custom print and production techniques. Taking it a step further, it has the potential to change relationships between creatives and suppliers into partnerships and collaborations.

Online cloud-based tool Dotgain, founded in early 2013, was a big step in this direction. It offered a way for agencies to connect with peer-reviewed printers most suitable for their project and increased the efficiency of quote sourcing, reviewing and print management for both parties. One of its objectives was to change the buying process from being price-driven to being service- and quality-driven. Dotgain went on to win the Australian Mobile and App Awards only one year after its launch and - with its concept proven - got sold in 2016.

Dotgain was a great first step in improving the interconnectivity between printers and agencies. The trend towards ambient design now offers the potential for a new push in that direction - where creating solid partnerships and sustainable business practices will help increase productivity and profit for both industries.

Keen to dive into experiential?

Look out for these resources:

Experiential Marketing: Consumer Behavior, Customer Experience and The 7Es by Wided Batat, 2019

Experiential Marketing: A Practical Guide to Interactive Brand Experiences by Shirra Smilansky, 2017

Experiential Marketing: Secrets, Strategies, and Success Stories from the World's Greatest Brands by Kerry Smith and  Dan Hanover, 2016

Pic credit: Christian Bertrand, Dreamstime.com

Sue Haefner is a regular contributor for Digital Image Magazine.  She is the editor of creativecoast.blog, an Australian blog about graphic design and its related industries. She holds a MA in Creative Direction and has worked both in Germany and Australia as a graphic designer and copywriter.

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