There’s a new trend afoot.
PR-driven immersive experiences are taking the art world by storm and it’s turning an entire industry upside down.
You may be wondering… What could art possibly have to do with immersive experiences? And how do they relate to PR or brand marketing or even social media?
The answer: Everything!
The days where reality and imagination are separate things are quickly coming to an end. Today, creativity is transforming reality in ways we never thought imaginable. Humans are looking for the next frontier in mind-blowing experiences and it has major implications for marketers, brands, and businesses across the globe.
What exactly is an immersive experience?
“Immersive experiences simulate our senses in order to create an illusion that transports us to another place and situation. Immersion should be realistic, engaging and satisfying. It can be experienced in different fields, it doesn’t occur only when you put on a VR headset.”
Elisa Goyeneche & Josefina Blattmann.
If you’re looking for the best examples of immersive experiences, look no further than the art industry.
Take one of the most popular (and talked-about) attractions over the last year, the Museum of Ice Cream. It’s a museum reimagined and built for Millennials – a generation that is using social media in a radically different way than other generations.
Many would consider museums a “boring” industry or a PR nightmare, but if you peel back the layers and encourage audiences to use their imagination and creativity, you can change preconceived notions on just about anything.
That is until theatrical performances like Sleep No More began to appear. Sleep No More is an immersive (and quite realistic) play that takes place at “The McKittrick Hotel” in New York.
Immersive experiences like Museum of Ice Cream and Sleep No More point to a much larger trend in augmented reality. This trend is going to give people the power to “choose their own adventures” and brands the ability to provide them with incredible tools in rich environments and landscapes to do so.
One production company that is pushing the boundaries for immersive experiences is Meow Wolf and its CEO Vince Kadlubek. Meow Wolf is known for their art-filled venue, The House of Eternal Return, which has brought in an astonishing $6 million in one year. and is expanding to several locations throughout the southwest.
Meow Wolf’s is pushing for a whole new type of experience. Their goal isn’t just to get people to post to Instagram or other social media channels, Kadlubek explains, “We want to create something where I could put up a thousand images, I could put up video, but it doesn’t at all even capture the feeling of it.”
Pixar is arguably one of the greatest storytellers of our generation. Their core mission is to tell a great story and it drove them to win 13 Academy Awards, 9 Golden Globes, and 11 Grammys.
Brand and marketers looking to create immersive experiences for their audiences must understand the rules of great storytelling and weave that into everything they are creating.
Take Refinery29 – an online woman’s lifestyle brand – for example. Their team has created an experience called 29Rooms where they’ve “collaborated with a broad range of artists and brands to create an inclusive, interactive, and highly visual space meant to unlock visitors’ imaginations, spark dialog, and fuel self-expression.”
As we mentioned earlier, people are looking for the next mind-blowing experience to enrich their lives.
In order to create a mind-blowing environment, excite your audience’s senses. Allow them to see something they’ve never seen or felt before. Take them out of the ordinary. Leave them talking and reflecting on the experience.
That’s exactly what Color Factory does for their customers. And you can continue to be wow-ed, no matter where you are, by following them on Instagram:
The Color Factory with their Alaska Airlines room, as well as pop ups such as the Spotted Cheetah Restaurant from Frito-Lay and 29Rooms with their co-branded—Juicy Couture, Casper, Dunkin’ Donuts, Dyson, and Cadillac rooms—highlight examples of brands partnering to co-create, or wholly produce their own immersive experience.
If you hope to create a truly one-of-a-kind immersive experience for your audience, put yourself in users’ shoes. Test, learn, fail, and experiment a ton. And don’t just rely on words to build the story.