Media Perspective: Why creating 'real world' spectacle is vital for your brand

There's a great book called Spectacle by the architect David Rockwell.

It's about those sweaty, immediate, mass-of-humanity, you-had-to-be-there experiences you just can't digitise, replicate or repeat. Events such as the Indy 500 or Glastonbury, or the Burning Man Festival in the US, or the Tomatina tomato-chucking fiesta in Spain.

Rockwell points out how valuable these events are in an age where every bit of media you can think of is available to everyone, pretty much for free, pretty much whenever they want it. The "specialness" of the live, the personal and the unrepeatable is an increasingly desirable quality. You can see people hunting for something of that specialness when they turn up at Henman Hill to watch the tennis or crowd around screens in parks for the rugby or the Proms. They could be comfortable at home with their own telly, but we love the communality of these things.

So you can understand why brands express envy at events such as Innocent's Summer Fete. There's not quite as much naked chainsaw juggling as at Burning Man, but it's still a rather unique and delightful few days; days that build a huge amount of goodwill and affection for the brand. Plus, countless opportunities for trialling products, meeting customers and forging relationships with partners.

Just as Nike is building community and commitment through events such as Run London or Supersonic, or similar to how O2 is creating awareness and demonstrating the possibilities of its services via its takeover of the Millennium Dome. And part of the specialness of these real-world brand properties and events is that the physical world of time and stadiums is much more limited than the seemingly infinite media universe. There are only so many weekends available in the Royal Parks and only so many large, empty domes in Greenwich - and Innocent and O2 have got one each booked.

These brands, and others, with a commitment to creating events and real-world occasions around which they can market their products are also getting an edge with a whole new set of skills. They're finding partners who can help them negotiate the murky world of music promoters, they're learning how many toilets you need per thousand people per field, and they're discovering who you have to be nice to at which local authority.

As the digital media landscape becomes more accessible and universal, bigger budgets aren't necessarily going to guarantee you better access to your customers than your rivals have. They'll certainly help. But much more of your ability to communicate will depend upon your creativity and on the skills and experience you develop in creating real world spectacle around your brand. Failing that, maybe you could take up naked chainsaw juggling.


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