What The Heck Is Immersive Customer Experience?

What The Heck Is Immersive Customer Experience?

Have the categories for awards shows like Cannes Lions become too blurred, or are they not blurred enough? Neonormal’s Paul Edwards (pictured below) poses the question in this guest post.

Paul Edwards

It sounds a little like a Monty Python sketch.

So, apart from the scams… and the rising costs… and only a single category linking creativity and effectiveness… and Publicis withdrawing from entering… and global giant Sir Martin Sorrell again asking difficult questions… the Cannes Lions advertising festival is fit for today’s world.

But it isn’t.

Case in point, a newly-introduced category called ‘Immersive Customer Experience’. The entry criteria for said category reads: “Engaging, interactive, face-to-face customer focused brand experiences with an holistic-multifaceted nature and storytelling at the heart.”

Surely that’s the criteria for every piece of powerful and effective work?

In recent years, boundaries (and categories) have blurred and the skills needed to create truly engaging brand experiences are being demonstrated and celebrated in all sorts of ways.

Except, we don’t call them that. Instead, we call them ‘Meet Graham’, ‘Fearless Girl’, ‘Van Gogh Bedroom’, ‘Tequila Cloud’, ‘Like My Addiction’, ‘McWhopper’, ‘Survival Billboard’, ‘Life Paint’, ‘Monty the Penguin’, ‘Red Bull Stratos’, ‘A Dramatic Surprise on a Quiet Square’, and many other things.

Each of these lauded pieces of work is immersive, engaging, customer focused, holistic, multifaceted and has storytelling at its heart. Are they stunts? Ads? PR buzz? Activations? Ambient media? Installations? Entertainment? Direct? Integrated? Or are they simply extraordinary brand experiences?

Last year, Keith Weed, Unilever’s chief marketing and communications officer, spoke at Cannes. He said: “There’s never been so many channels or points of interactions, or agencies working on various parts of that. It’s important to make sure the brand experience does not get fragmented.”

We should be focused not on just what is created but the sum of all the elements. How does a 50-inch bronze statue impact a sales pitch? How does a tequila-raining cloud help the travel agency selling Mexican holidays?
How does having a burger mash-up affect the way you hire people?

Everything is an experience and the experience is everything.

That’s the world we live in.


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