Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Published in Sep-Oct 2016

The age of advertechting

Advertising that taps into geeky technology like 360 VR or holograms can be incredibly impactful.

In a beautiful piece of storytelling, Google presented a short animated film that showed the relationship between a musician father and his daughter as she grows up. A poignant film, except that it takes you even closer than usual to the characters by showing them in amazing 360 VR (virtual reality) format, and telling the entire story from inside a car. The result is an enhanced experience of what was going to be a wonderful story anyways, and a very, very memorable one.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” said Arthur C. Clarke, and technological advances such as 360 VR or holograms do feel like magic. Whether you are standing at the top of the One World Trade Center, or watching an army of hologram protestors walk by, or getting Nicole Kidman to give you a tour around the Etihad Airbus A380, advertising that taps into geeky technology can be incredibly impactful.

360 VR has been around for a while and brands have tapped into its power of bringing about wonder very creatively. Of course, as the adage goes, content might be king, but context is emperor, and so some brands have used it much more effectively than others.

How applicable is such abracadabra to Pakistan?

I spoke to David James, Director of Projects at Valkyrie, a company that specialises in hologram technology and has worked with the folks who did the Tupac Shakur hologram.

He was pretty enthusiastic: “Imagine being able to watch Naheed Siddiqui perform with her younger self or Noor Jehan serenading us one more time. Imagine the biggest names in music, film and theatre gracing the floorboards of Pakistan’s fledgling events and stage industry. Imagine Pakistan’s universities hosting lectures by some of the finest minds of our generation or teaching their medical students how to perform life-saving procedures on holographic body parts. Imagine interacting with someone who seems to be right there in front of your very eyes at the next board meeting despite them being 10,000 miles away. 

Holographic technology is literally transforming people’s lives across the world. It is going to change the way people in Pakistan live, learn and play. The possibilities are endless – the only boundaries are our imaginations.”

It’s an incredibly playful time for creatives, and a scary one too. Tech changes rapidly, as do trends, and it is vital to stay in touch with what is capturing eyeballs and share of discussion. For a creative, the question to ask is simple: What is an interesting, modern piece of technology that can help me deliver my message in a highly immersive manner – one that can provide the level of disruption and engagement that is so elusive in traditional marketing? Or, in other words, how the hell do I do something that’s newer than putting lights on a billboard?

Of course, this is not to say that all modern technology will eventually evolve advertising to a new level anyways, just like the invention of the television or – more recently – social media apps did. What a marketing person needs to figure out is essentially, at what point of the curve will they decide to jump in: will they be trend setters or followers?

I’m going to resist quoting Darwin here, but if you are stuck on only shooting expensive 60-second commercials for flat TV screens, and not planning to make six-second Vine videos, or haven’t even looked into what VR or a hologram could do, you are living in the past.

Here are some brands that have embraced the future:

Pepsi Max Unbelievable bus shelter”
A fantastic example of augmented reality, Pepsi mapped 3D animations over a live video feed to an HD screen which gave the illusion that something unbelievable was happening in real time in the environment behind the bus shelter. The level of detail was incredible: even a light sensor adjusted the animation to match the time of the day. Result: never before seen UFOs, people floating past holding coloured balloons and giant robots walking through the streets.

Lexus Hoverboard”
by CHI & Partners
If you ever were a fan of Back to the Future, this would make your dreams come true. Lexus made the levitating skateboard come alive by using a superconductor and liquid nitrogen that created what is known as a Meissner Effect, making the hoverboard float above the ground. For us non-geeks, it’s magic created by magnets. Brilliant product design that was turned into brilliant content, which delivered brilliant results for the brand – a brand that dared to take on the forces of gravity.

Terre des Hommes Sweetie”
by Lemz/MediaMonks
A hyper-realistic virtual child was created by Lemz and MediaMonks to identify and capture child predators online. “As soon as this girl showed her virtual face in freely accessible chat programmes, numerous adult men would contact her with requests for online sex,” said the agency. This in turn helped authorities to locate and clamp down on predators. How good was the campaign? It picked up twelve Gold Lions at Cannes.

No Somos Delito Holograms for freedom”
by DDB Spain
To inform citizens about the Gag Law in Spain, which restricted freedom of speech and assembly, No Somos Delito built an entire army of hologram protestors out of thousands of crowdsourced images of people. It was a brilliant way to protest against a law that stopped people from protesting in the flesh.

Marriott The teleporter”
by Framestore
What is amazing about VR technology is the incredible way it immerses the viewer in the experience: you as a brand have total, undivided attention. Take Marriott for example, which combined Oculus Rifts with a 4D experience of heaters and wind jets in specially made booths and transported viewers to incredible destinations like a beach in Hawaii.

I keep going back to Helmut Krone’s quote: “I am only interested in the new.” There really is no better motto to adopt if you want to stay ahead in advertising, and give your brand a better chance of being noticed and remembered. The kind of content you produce certainly bears the lion’s share of responsibility in achieving this, but the medium you use can sometimes be just as important.

Ali Rez is a Creative Director who has won more than 100 global awards, including double Gold Lions at Cannes.