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Really Real Experiences

2010 has already seen 3D technology take the world by storm; but why is there a sudden need to get up close and personal with absolutely everything? I guess the answer lies in the emerging trend of ‘really real’ experiences that consumers now crave, a trend which has been around for a few years and, to me,shows no signs of abating.



Consumer’s pursuit of everything and anything that gives them something different to talk about is a must. Status is no longer measured by symbols that you can show; it’s all about the personal experiences that you can talk about. Having ‘really real’ experiences is the most authentic and relevant way to appease this consumer craving, with entertainment technologies like 3D, augmented reality and the rest, in pole position to deliver them.



In their very nature, these technologies make what you see more life-like, they bring you closer to the action and they captivate an audience. They are harder to fabricate and therefore more trustworthy. They move the interaction from simple passive participation to an immersive experience, engrossing and involving the audience to a much greater degree.



Examples of this in action can already be seen with O2’s 3D screening of England’s six nations rugby matches at cinemas across the UK, providing a completely new rugby viewing experience. Sky has also got in on the act, recently conducting a trial of 3D football screenings in pubs across the country. Of course we can’t forget the traditional stomping ground of 3D, the cinema, with the hugely successful release of Avatar 3D taking all the headlines (and the box office takings).



Technology aside for a minute, this trend goes deeper than execution and into the very fabric of communication. Concepts and messages must maintain the raw sense of honesty and realty to truly resonate in the modern market place




So the point is simple. The rise of these technologies isn’t technology for technology’s sake, its meeting a consumer need, a need to close the gap between sender and receiver. And this is true of both media and message. If brands can help facilitate this pursuit for ‘real’ experiences they not only create positive brand association, they also create an immersive interaction with a consumer which has no interruption. Surely, a marketers dream (certainly and experiential marketers dream)?



One important caveat… content is still king. If it is poor quality, really real or not, the technology and the strategy will only bring to life your failings. So come on folks… time to GET REAL.



-Alistair Dickson, Planning Team-

Who Needs Technology?


As we all seek out the latest possible piece of technology for our clients, I was reminded the other day of an event that took place some 77 years ago that still sounds incredibly impressive today.



In May 1933 the World’s Fair, celebrating the city’s centenary, opened in Chicago under the title ‘A Century of Progress’. The theme of the fair was technical innovation and, in this example, the brand was Chicago. The fair provided a chance for the city to show its leadership in the field of innovation and impress the watching world.



So, how did they launch this inspiring event? Touch screens? Confetti canons? No, in fact none of those. Instead, they used a humble telescope, some photo-electric cells and a star called Arcturus that was believed to be 40,000 light years from Earth. This number was significant because it had been 40 years since Chicago last held the World’s Fair.



So you have the kit list, now for the method.



To open the event they pointed one end of the telescope at the star and the other at the photo-electric cells. When enough light was received from the star, light that had started its journey to Earth around the time of the last Chicago Fair, triggered all of the lights of the fair to turn on one by one. Beautiful.



That said, the fair also included some pretty offensive portrayals of black Americans, a midget city and an exhibition of live babies in incubators so the 21st century is clearly a more advanced era but this isn’t the point. What is, is that a good idea can be, and often is, a simple one. We can look to the past as much as the future when considering ‘new’ ways to impress our clients because some things that make people tick are the same today as they have always been.



NB….Another good example of our event ancestors outdoing us is Field of the Cloth of Gold which took place in June 1520. Worth a Google. Posh & Beck’s wedding wasn’t a patch on that.



-Tom O’Donnell-

Provocative Projections

For large scale projects, projection can be an extremely effective way of engaging an audience. With the help of our production department, we’ve handpicked some ingenious examples that help show that by using projection, campaignscannot only be interactive but playful and certainly memorable too.



First up we have Interactive Building Mapping. The example here was a collaboration with Yes YesNo, The Church and Inside Out Productions, who created an installation that allowed viewers to become the performers. Their body movements were projected 5 stories tall onto Auckland’s Ferry Building creating a large interactive playground.



Secondly, we have Laser Tagging. This example shows a group of artistic rebels who cruise up to the Mi6 in a boat and write projected messages to its employees onto the building opposite using a ‘laser pen’. We found this extremely funny, especially when they get arrested…



Last, but not least, we have an Alice in Wonderland style Running Rabbit. Projected by a moving vehicle, the rabbit asks you to follow him in a race of the streets as it appears to jump over cars, running frantically along the pavement.



-Marco Wielander-

Brands have gone Gaga

Has anyone seen Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s new video ‘Telephone’? I’d be surprised if you hadn’t; it’s making huge headlines this week, including the Telegraph andan interesting blog from the Guardian. To be honest it’s pretty hard to miss, not only because Gaga puts to death all those hermaphrodite rumours.

The video has taken product placement to a ridiculous new level, and has caused a lot of uproar, especially across the marketing press and blogosphere.

You’ll see that as Gaga dances her way around a prison cell, she appears to be covered by more brands than she is clothes. Over the course of the 9 minute Gaga fest we‘re practically force fed the latest products from Virgin Mobile, Polaroid, Diet Coke, Miracle Whip, Wonder Bread, a Beats laptop, Chanel Sunglasses, and the most obscure – dating website ‘PlentyofFish.com’, surfed by a body-building prison guard.

I’d be interested to find out just how much effect this blatant placement has on the brands involved. Is this what advertising needs- to be in your face and up front, rather than sub-consciously influencing our decisions? Or is it treating consumers as that brainless, thatthey will buy whatever they tell us?

For me, I just can’t see how this is a long term strategy to engage consumers in a positive experience with the brand – with the power shifting ever more from brand to consumer, is this really the best approach to create loyal brand ambassadors?

Straight from the grad’s mouth…

by Sam Haydock, Account Executive

I am nearing the end of the RPM graduate scheme, and am really enjoying working in the industry. Without doubt, every agency should have some form of grad recruitment going – the future stars are just waiting to be discovered, so they can’t afford not to!

The marketing industry is extremely tough and competitive for those wanting to get a foot in the door, and grad schemes give both employers and graduates the opportunity to find out where their skills lie, and what they can bring to each agency.

What has surprised me most about the industry is that it doesn’t stop and it’s constantly evolving. A marketing-savvy audience has created a need for constantly evolving ideas and concepts; making agency life an extremely exciting place to be. There is also an enormous amount of work by so many individuals- it becomes a really collaborative affair- yet often the end project could appear very simple.

Sometimes the pressure is high, and you have to be really switched on; you definitely get thrown into the deep end, and often you end up having a lot of responsibility early on. Often you have to learn on the job which I find a welcome challenge.

My recommendations for future grads wanting to get into marketing and events, are be positive and focused on your end goal. If you want to get in to the industry, you will if you are determined enough. In terms of the research I did, the following websites are really useful for tips on interview technique, and industry insight: www.ipa.co.uk, www.milkround.com and www.prospects.ac.uk.

It is so important to make sure you are switched on; you can’t turn up to work in this industry and be vacant. Be prepared to face challenges and commit yourself, but also be prepared to love your job. Day to day tasks and repetition don’t really exist in this industry and- you’ll never be bored. In terms of interviews and applications, remember to be yourself and not what you think people want you to be. I was very surprised that on the grad day, the loudest and most confident characters did not get through despite thinking that they were what agencies offer.

Enjoying festival sponsorship responsibly….

by Rory Sloan, Head of Production

You wouldn’t know it to go outside, but summer really is just around the corner, and with festival line ups being announced and tickets selling out already for most of the big ones, the subject of sponsorship starts to become quite heated.

Take Professor Gerard Hastings recent comment in The Main Event about alcohol sponsorship of festivals. Professor Hastings has produced a study looking at how alcohol advertising influences the behaviour of the people it is targeting. And whilst I agree with his point that “the problems we have when people drink too much could be serious issues at festivals”, I don’t agree at all that alcohol brands are the cause of this.

In my view, no alcohol brand wants its consumers to drink TOO much. In fact it is quite the opposite.

The idea of creating a memorable experience for an alcohol brand at a festival is about having more than a few drinks in a tent. A huge amount of thought and effort goes into creating an experience where the consumer will not only enjoy the product being promoted, but enjoy the environment and atmosphere around them as well.

Far from promoting excessive drinking, alcohol brands have, working closely with the alcohol concessionaires, been keen to prevent the general ‘free for all’ that has occurred at events in the past. For example, I have no doubt that every festival this year will have numerous branded bars, all of which will have professional bar staff, who adopt the challenge 21 policy.

Now, I’m not totally naïve in thinking that there wont be one single festival goer that has one too many. I’m just saying that the blame simply isn’t down to alcohol brands sponsoring the event.

Sponsorship of festivals can be an effective and rewarding form of communicating with target consumers. This communication is never based on a quick fix “sell as much alcohol as you can” approach. In fact, it is about establishing a much longer dialogue with consumers, and building valuable relationships through the power of the experience.

Over a cold pint of cider preferably, enjoyed responsibly of course.

Why marketing is the place to be…

Looking through the Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies To Work For , I was amazed to see just how many agencies featured in the list.What this seems to prove, is that big bonuses are in fact not the be all and end all in staff contentment. To be seen as the best, all employers need to do is create a work environment that is sociable, diverse and motivating; something that marketing agencies seem to be managing extremely well.

I really think that we have the ability, more so than any other industry, to set the dynamic, and drive new processes and ways of thinking. And I think the reason we can do this, is purely through the quality of our people, and the range of talent in the marketing industry at the moment.

Not that we’re ones to blow our own trumpet at RPM, but we were over the moon to receive a Gold Standard from the Sunday Times, as one of just two companies to rank in the top 50 for five years on the trot. This is 100% down to our people, and by striving to create and maintain a dynamic and engaging atmosphere to work in.

However, as an industry, I think we need focus on increasing the element of enjoyment and excitement, as this is what ultimately attracts people to the business in the first place. I also think that we need to focus more on growing our own talent from within – if we are not investing in developing our people, and recruiting from junior level, then we will feel the ‘skills pinch’ in years to come.

So that said, all that’s left to say is congratulations to all those that made it on the list and are flying the flag for the industry! Just got to try and do one better next year, and get even more agencies involved!

Will 3D technology reduce attendance at live events?

by Rory Sloan, Head of Production

This is the very first regular blog from the RPM team, where we’ll be discussing and maybe even debating, the very latest trends and technologies used in experiential marketing and events, and the possible impact these developments will have on our industry. We might even throw in some predications for the future as well – just for good measure.

Over recent years at RPM we’ve seen technology develop and new channels emerge at an incredible rate. Agencies across the board now face a daily challenge of keeping up with technology for fear of being left behind and falling out of the race. At the same time, the industry has never been so exciting! These new challenges just mean that we need to think more creatively and stay ahead of the curve.

For example, having recently come back from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, as well as having seen numerous animated films advertised, it’s clear to me that 3D technology has finally come of age, and will find its way into our lives over the next few years. Many of us will know that 3D technology is not new and has in fact been around longer than television. What I saw showcased in Las Vegas, however, was very much the 21st century version, which unavoidably prompted some to ask the following clichéd question:

Will this new technology reduce attendance at live events?

Compared to other recent technological advances, 3DTV has a much stronger case to do this, as it has the ability to bring TV content to life in your own home (once you’ve upgraded your TV and are ‘3D Ready’ that is). Having experienced all the new 3DTVs that the big players such as Sony, Toshiba, Samsung, and Panasonic have to offer, you might ask; am I now preparing for my 14 year career in live events to come to an abrupt end?

No, I’m certainly not.

On the contrary, there are two very positive things we can take from this:Firstly, as with HD before it, 3D is very hard to sell without the consumer actually experiencing it. No print ad, radio commercial or TV slot can show you how good a 3D product really is. So whether its demo’s in your local Sony store, or seeing a show-reel on a stand in Bluewater, there are going to be plenty of opportunities for immersive experiential campaigns to be used to promote the new products and engage consumers with a hands-on interaction with the brand.Secondly, and probably most importantly, the events industry needs to follow the example set by the electronics industry. Why should consumers, employees, and stakeholders settle for the same old stale approach to events year after year?

Being innovative and constantly thinking of ways to inspire and enhance a consumer’s experience of an event is something we should all constantly strive for. At RPM we see experiential as a way of thinking – the great thing about this approach is that it can be applied and then amplified through any channel, regardless of on or offline, above or below the line.

Now, I’m not suggesting that every event needs to be filled with 3DTV’s; experiences need to be relevant to the audience, but reinventing our offerings and pushing the boundaries is the only way to keep events a relevant and fresh part of the marketing mix.