For over a decade, marketers have been using the term omni-channel to describe branding campaigns that use a multitude of physical and digital touchpoints. Omni-channel campaigns include phone, direct mail, email, and other adverts. The term has become so tired that today, when you mention omni-channel, most marketer’s eyes glaze over. It’s time to shift our thinking to creating campaigns that provide an immersive customer experience anywhere, anytime.
BEFORE WE CAN DO THAT, CONSIDER HOW FAR WE HAVE COME IN THE PAST DECADE.
A few years ago, Hatteras, a printer in Long Island, New York, produced an omni-channel campaign for the TV show 2 Broke Girls. They used physical tools like inkjet and wrapping to create a physical space around the consumer. Everything from the wrap on the trucks to custom mugs to cupcake labels and even carnival rides were branded in the TV show theme. This is an example of a physical experience that did a great job being consistent with the brand.
Flash forward to San Diego’s 2018 Comic-Con, where Fox, in partnership with National Geographic, created an immersive physical experience for its new show Cosmos: Possible Worlds. Bluemedia, the leader in grand format wrapping, built a 33-foot dome that transported attendees onto the deck of a space ship where people could view far-off galaxies. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the narrator and host, gave attendees a taste of the then-upcoming series, taking viewers to experience places far and wide, with dizzying special effects. The intent of the campaign was to immerse the Comic-Con attendees and create a physical environment where they were part of the experience.
Or take the 2019 Super Bowl, from earlier in the year, as an example. If you were in Atlanta, you would have seen the giant Bud Light Knight wrapped on one of the buildings looking down over Atlanta. The Knight tied into Bud Light’s successful commercial showing the Bud Light Knight jousting with HBO’s Game of Thrones dragon. According to the Wall Street Journal, the commercial was the “biggest and boldest marketing tie-ins [HBO] has ever orchestrated.”
2 Broke Girls Event video by Hatteras
In both examples, the companies stayed true to their brand and delivered a customer experience through multiple physical and digital touch-points. However, each campaign was limited to a specific time and place. The future of immersion is to provide users an experience, regardless of location or time. Augmented reality technology can now bridge this gap, providing the ability to bring a digital experience into the physical world.
NOW IMAGINE INFUSING AR INTO OMNI-CHANNEL CAMPAIGNS……
Using augmented reality, imagine building on the Super Bowl Bud Light campaign to deliver an immersive experience that a person can take with them…
Attendees or residents of Atlanta could have used their smartphone along with an AR app to extend the Bud Light campaign, with different immersive experiences in the week leading up to the Super Bowl and the weeks after. Before the game, users on their phone could watch the knight come off the building and step towards the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The knight might hint to its future (such as preparing for a joust) or provide information on pregame events. Following the Super Bowl, the experience could change to show the knight’s ghost telling the king, ‘winter is here’.
In this scenario, augmented reality complements the campaign, and immerses the consumer. AR could also be used in multiple other ways after the Super Bowl. A Superbowl ticket could become an AR marker that drives customers to multiple AR experiences, like postgame analysis, photos with the MVP or Lombardi Trophy. Or this: once home, a consumer could scan the ticket and have the knight appear in his/her living room. For the ticket holder, the Super Bowl experience continues long after the game. Bud Light could partner with a retailer such as Target, and have the Knight come off the building and walk toward the nearest Target to show ticket holders where to buy their Bud Light.
The possibilities are endless, and these ‘what-ifs’ illustrate ways to progress customer experience campaigns beyond a single event, or point in time.
While omni-channel campaigns vary, they are predictable. A person subscribes, gets an email, maybe something in the post. The billboards I drive by match the TV commercials I see. These are all standard ways to tie campaigns together. I believe over the next year or two we will start to go beyond those touch points. Forward-thinking marketers and brands will use physical and digital tools such as AR to create truly immersive experiences for the consumer that they can take with them.