Audiences are volunteers, not captives


The world is becoming increasingly more televisual.

Cisco Systems predict that 90% of the world’s data will be video by 2014. The advance of this frontier was marked on a recent expedition to The City where I was amazed to see that even the litter bin posters were video format!

So we’re all familiar with brands and media owners using the inventory available to them to push their message for commercial gain. You’ve probably been persuaded to add a Loyd Grossman sauce to your basket by a tempting cookery demo on screen in the pasta aisle, or is that just me?

But it seems that to date many brands acting as small time media owners in this way have failed to see the opportunity presented by these channels. Screens have been used to extend 2D point of sale or advertising rather than provide something genuinely entertaining or useful to their audience.

But in the wake of the technologically dazzling Apple stores, brands are seeing the advantage of using the medium as the message and there seems to be recognition that the creative bar should be raised too. Thus video screens, the bigger the better, are one of the new must haves for any self respecting flagship store.

The Burberry flagship launched a few months ago to great fanfare and the biggest in store screen this side of Regent Street. The store is arguably immersive audio-visual experience first; clothes shop second, with 420 speakers concealed around the space and a 38 sq m screen dominating the main floor. But the tech isn’t designed to simply play clips of catwalk models parading Burberry’s latest attire to a captive audience, rather to provide entertaining content that builds Burberry’s status as an original British brand.

Other blue chip brands, from Hyundai to DFS, Virgin Atlantic and BA are starting to install screens across their portfolios too, be that bricks and mortar or aluminium alloy. The key thing is that just because the audience is ‘captive’, they shouldn’t be treated as a prisoner to the marketing message. They need to be entertained and gripped as much as any audience to really capture their attention with the real win being to add content into the brand’s physical environment that actually improves the experience.

BA have made successful use of the screens on their planes first with their thoughtful take on the London Olympics with the moving short film ‘Boy’ and now as part of their work with The Aviation Foundation which aims to illustrate the aviation industry’s vital impact on and in every part of the nation in perhaps unforeseen ways.

In a car showroom, rather than flashing up 0%APR offers that can be communicated in print, video screens could provide interactive product demos enabling potential buyers to discover the car in a richer way. Larger showroom screens might be used to actually entertain the visiting audience with something that doesn't communicate a sales message but brings to life the brand's take on the world, providing a much more rounded brand experience.

Any brand with a physical presence in the world might do well to note that in this digital age, and as demonstrated so stylishly by Burberry, a shop is no longer just about shopping.

Have you got an opportunity to get video content in front of your target audience in the real world? If so, have you thought hard about what might entertain or be useful to them at that time?

Kath Hipwell, Planning Director