The benefits of immersive brand experiences

By Teamspirit on Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Every now and then a rabbit hole appears before you where, unlike Alice, you’ll find some real wonders within. This month, that hole (literally) can be found in the side of the Old Selfridges Hotel on Orchard Street. Enter: The Flipside.

I decided to take the plunge and visit this world of mystery and was highly rewarded for my curiosity – and foresight to book a ticket online. There are plenty available, and they’re free, but you really must secure a place before rocking up.

Running until May 20th, this self-proclaimed multi-sensory exhibition is worth checking out, as it’s certainly a unique experience. Upon entry, you’re invited to trade your ID for a Google Pixel 2 phone, which I gladly did. I was then led around a series of rooms, displays and experiences, and encouraged to snap as many photos as possible.

On my journey through the low light, I encountered bizarre sculptures, timeless experiences, futuristic displays, and a personality-led cocktail tasting session. Big brands are represented but in a way that doesn’t feel too imposing, and you can’t help but be impressed with the effort that’s gone into the whole extravaganza.

The pièce de résistance is found at the end of the journey, where you get to show off your personality and take away a lovely little souvenir. Crafted by some clever souls, the interactive finale gives you the freedom to express yourself – with the help of the phone of the hour, of course.

But what does this have to do with financial services, I hear you ask. Well I think there’s something to be learned here. I’ll start by being blunt: I was sold to and I know it. This was one giant experiential ad, not only for Selfridges and Google who curated the whole thing, but also for the brands that got involved.

And you know what… I didn’t mind one bit. It was a fun experience that could be shared with others. And one that easily found its way onto my Instagram and beyond. It’s something worth talking about, but it must be said, the sale was a subtle one. Instead of feeling clubbed around the head with benefits and straplines, I felt invited into a world I wasn’t usually part of, and now one I’d love to explore more.

The lesson I learned here was that to be heard or get people talking about a brand or product, you don’t always need to spend money on targeted banners or tactical direct mail pieces. Perhaps connecting with folks on the ground a little more could prove even more effective, especially when used correctly. They could be invited into a world they’ve never really experienced – a world that’s then normalised.

For financial services in particular, this could be hugely beneficial and is something worth considering the next time a creative brief is on the horizon. After all, once you’ve captured the attention of even more of your audience, you never know how far the next rabbit hole may go.

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