While more and more aspects of the lockdown are being eased, it’s clear that in-person brand activations and experiences aren’t returning to normal any time soon and that creative new solutions are required as new regulations define social interaction.

Writing for WARC, Christophe Castagnera, Head of Connected Experiences, Imagination, notes that experiences have always had the potential to be transformational and inspirational, but are often dogged by questions over their true return on investment.

“Now, following a sustained period in isolation, the sense of belonging and local community they offer is going to be accentuated, and reduce the focus on purely transactional aspects,” he suggests.

And while, on a human and emotional level, the unique sensory immersion that ‘IRL’ offers cannot be matched by purely ‘URL’-based online experiences, he believes that “new hybrid experiences that blend these two worlds will lead to exciting new possibilities”.

Most obviously, there is the issue of how to redesign experiences which are premised on a unique combination of spaces, communication channels and activities – and this may not be as daunting as appears at first sight.

Many of the strategies required “are already being used effectively today and have been around for several years,” argues Castagnera. “Now the time has come to apply them more widely and take them a step further.”

On the assumption that COVID-19 regulations set by governments and advisory bodies will continue to affect how people gather in any space, brands have to completely rethink the flow of people throughout their experiences and create fluid spaces, he says.

That could mean bookable spaces – and these have the added benefit of allowing brands to build their CRM function and gather customer data and to put more emphasis on the role of seamless logistics.

A less controlled approach, Castagnera offers, could involve location-based gaming, similar to Burger King’s Whopper Detour. “What if a brand could similarly gamify its experience space by employing intelligent software that monitored the flow of people in and out of rooms?”

Link the software to personal devices and customers could have a more unique experience at the same time as keeping a safe distance from crowds.

“We’re already seeing technology that allows a brand to flex and change its environments being used by escape rooms, and the approach has long been used by interactive theatre experiences such as Secret Cinema to keep guests wrongfooted and in suspense,” says Castagnera.

For more details, read Christophe Castagnera’s article in full: Five ways to reimagine ‘IRL’ brand experiences in the COVID-19 era

Sourced from WARC