Why David Attenborough is evolving faster than advertisers

Why David Attenborough is evolving faster than advertisers

My father is a zoologist, and so much of our family viewing time was spent watching David Attenborough’s shows. At the time I would have preferred to watch music videos or sport, so I came to resent his bumbling style. Now that I am older, and somewhat wiser, I have a far greater appreciation for the man. Many of his techniques pioneered the way we watch TV, and he is a true legend in the area of content development.

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His medium has always been TV and he would certainly be forgiven for sticking with it. However, on a recent trip to the Natural History Museum in London, I was amazed at how his skills have evolved. The subject was evolution in the biological sense, but for me it demonstrated evolution in the media sense. Rather than a traditional audio visual presentation on a flat screen, the lecture was given in a truly engaging, immersive and multi-sensory way.

There were a few screens (some in 3D) all displaying different content, a presenter introducing topics, interactive iPads that explained the story lines, several augmented-reality-Davids giving real life demonstrations with live voting and quizzes. You could follow whichever part of the story you were interested in, regardless of the flow of the narrative or what the rest of the audience was doing. The audience took some time to adapt but, once they did, you could see their engagement and interaction levels increase considerably.

While certain stories are being told this way in mainstream media, they tend to be created for TV first, with additional multi-screens added on. The reality is that, moving forwards, content developers will start to think in broader terms when considering how different media can be used to convey a message. For consumers this means that entertainment changes from being passive, linear and closed to active, multi-dimensional and open. As marketers, we therefore need to consider our brands in this way. So anyone using 30 spots in David Attenborough’s series at the moment; be warned… he is evolving faster than you.

Ian Perrin is the CEO of ZenithOptimedia