Experiential in the Home

  • Richard Cook

2020 has seen a major shift in the experience sector.  We face a time where events are off the cards, and the idea of going to a pop-up activation is but a distant dream. The spaces we’d normally see as respite are closed, and we bring ourselves looking at our homes to inspire.  Tthrough the final part of my masters in advertising, I set out to find insights into how we view experiences, the home as a space, and prototype what the future of experience might look like. Experiential needs to adapt, and this is the project i've been focusing on for the last year. 

The Question

I asked "How can new formats of activations connect the analogue and digital spaces while adding value to the audience of the london dungeon during mid covid-19?".

In short: "How do we bring experiences of value into the home?".

I used the London Dungeon as a case study to explore this. I've been working there since 2018 and am an expert in what makes the place, and their customers, tick along nicely. It made sense to use an area I'm familiar with, and utilise that as a case study to see what can be found about bringing an experience based brand activation into the home.
The Initial Research

I first set out to understand analogue and digital marketing and how they connect, as well as themed spaces and the role they play within experiences.

This helped me understand why and how experiences are created, giving a backbone of knowledge to the project.

Find the full research here.
The Interviews

What do we value about experiences?

I talked to a wide variety of people from different backgrounds about the things they value the most in the experiences they've had.

Personal Connecting. The Unknown. Environment. Storytelling.

These values came up the most during my conversations with participants, and I carried these through to prototyping experiences which take place within the home.
The Prototypes

By taking influence and imagery from the London Dungeon, these prototypes all aimed to provide a brand marketing experience in the home.

The four prototypes were created using iterative development. After each prototype, I looked at the strengths and weaknesses to see where changes could be made in order to hit the values found in the interviews.
starting from a paper peepshow derived from the victorian setting of some of the dungeon shows, each further prototype engaged new formats of connecting the analogue and digital spaces.

The paper peepshow lacked engagement with the physical environment, and lacked storytelling. How can we overcome that with technology?

An augmented reality solution came next. By using AR technology, a character and environment can be projected onto the world. But isn't this being seen through a purely digital lens? And AR has been done already? Is it truly new? How else can i bring content to be seen against a physical backdrop?

Taking influence from the Dungeons victorian era shows, I tried to bring the Pepper's Ghost effect into the home. this worked with great effect at producing a unique format, however I then found that accessibility was an issue - to recreate in the home would require very specific materials.

So accessibility is an issue. what next? These 3 prototypes all used custom physical items. What if i used something more common?...
The Final Prototype

What if the digital element doesn't need to be visual? There have been several theatrical performances during covid taking place at home which use spatial audio to create an experience. Combine this with a commonplace physical artifact from the home and we have a new format to play with.

By combining audio with a candle, participants are placed into the Ten Bells pub and are engaged in a Jack the Ripper narrative from the london dungeon to tell the story. The interaction with the environment and placing the the viewer at the centre of the narrative is key to ensuring they feel part of the experience and not just a bystander.
The Findings

I then took the final prototype and asked interview participants about the value it gave to them and their broader views on new formats of advertising.

The prototype met the goals I had set. All participants said they felt connected to the created environment, and that the experience felt personal by placing them at the centre of the narrative.

Participants appreciated the interaction between themselves and their environment, valuing the change in perception of their home space. They also appreciated that the format of brand experience was something they hadn't encountered before.
What Next?

The concept of engagement is changing dramatically – no longer do we walk out of the door carefree and maskfree, happy to openly cough on the tube without repercussions while stuck in a packed rush hour train, before going to an activation in a packed room. Participants may prefer more home-based experiences.

These findings provide a new template for creating experiences where in-person isn't possible, and brands are looking to extend their stories into the home. By combining physical and digital spaces, new formats can be created to engage participants in new ways.

It's important to find ways in which activations can continue to grow and thrive. finding new spaces to develop these in will ensure the experience economy can innovate at every turn, and engage with new opportunities.
Find the full project here:

A Perfect Execution (For bringing experience-based activations into the home)

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  • University of The Arts London (UAL) logo

    University of The Arts London (UAL)

    • Design

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