Events are one of the key ways for people to create tangible connections to others, have shared experiences and celebrate communities in an ever-more digital-focused world. Now, for the time being, all connections are remote and the lack of human interaction is rippling way beyond the events industry.
In this newly virtual world, we need to ensure we retain the essence of live events – a continuation of those shared experiences and celebrations. Our clients want to be helpful in this time and we are working with them on innovative solutions to engage with their customers in a mutually beneficial way, whether through entertainment, being helpful or merely extending their world outside the four walls they inhabit 24 hours a day for five minutes.
As the infamous Joe Exotic says: "I’m in a cage. You know why animals die in cages? Their soul dies." As much as we shouldn’t be taking life advice from Joe Exotic, he does hit the nail on the head. We need to ensure we are feeding people’s souls – a function previously filled by a range of different experiences from attending events, the theatre and cinema to even the interaction with the person you received a free sample from at Liverpool Street station. People are now starting to miss interaction as the novelty of isolation wears off. This is where experiential should live during lockdown: initiating and encouraging interaction and entertainment.
In order to encourage these genuine connections, brands should assess how to use what is currently available or how to create what is not. One of the ways we are bringing the external world into people’s homes is by working with tech start-ups to merge the next step in video calling with expertise in experience to enhance this. What has worked really well is the ability to generate self-shot augmented-reality content that can be shared between people instantly. Whether this gives you access to talent that you never could have in real life or merely allows you to see more than your parents' head and shoulders, it allows for a more accurate recreation of real-life interaction.
Beyond human interaction, creating space for escapism and entertainment is key. Increasingly, all of our interaction lives on screens, with Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts fuelling every meeting but also every pub quiz and birthday party. A genuine need for all of us at the moment is to find experiences we can have beyond the screen while still having inspiration from external influences.
We all need to allow space for genuine art or entertainment for the soul’s gain; Andrea Bocelli performing live from an empty Duomo in Milan with his Music for Hope concert (pictured) has been viewed by 33 million people worldwide in just two days, because it’s still an insight into something epic rather than the minutiae of life in lockdown.
The audio experience has been our focus with some brands as a solution to bring the immersive experience to individuals. A way of creating 3D or even 8D experiences that give your eyes a break from blue light but your imagination the chance to explore new worlds and perspectives, whether through spoken word, song or simply soundscapes.
As we all need to find a role in the "new normal", a unique opportunity has risen for brands to actively help, engage and elevate people as they become more isolated. Whether via Audible Stories enabling children and adults to find their escapism by making content free for people or Hospital Records hosting its "Hospitality house party" online to bring those summer vibes to our front rooms and gardens, we need to utilise our creativity as an industry to answer consumer needs beyond the traditional engagement model.
This is the time to innovate, trial, test, fail, learn, improve and ultimately use this as an opportunity to invent the new experience economy.
Emily Koppit is group account lead at The Producers