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Immersion, Integration, & Dutch Beer

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Storytelling can be the difference between inspiring action and a message that simply fails to connect.  After reading Latitude’s The Future of Storytelling, I’ve been contemplating the concepts of immersion and integration, as well as interaction, in communication strategies. Next level stuff, not retweets and Facebook contests. What’s the future here? I also happened to run across this “interactive ad experience” for Grolsch beer. You watch a TV spot, open an online URL, text a character in the video, watch him (online) receive your custom text in real-time, and receive a text voucher for a free 4-pack along with nearest retail locations participating in the promotion.

Cool stuff? For sure. (Read more on the campaign here.) But we’re not in the next frontier just yet. There’s more to come, most of which we haven’t even seen yet. Check out some of the ideas culled from participants in Latitude’s survey:

“The story would play out in real-time, so I could check in on [the main character] while I’m waiting in line at the bank, and offer him some advice just before he rushes into a raid on the kingpin’s hideout. But—and this is key—I don’t want to be a voyeur; I want to be a participant. I want to change the story based on how I interact with Bond and what’s going on in my life.”

“I’d love to be a part of a real-world game, whereby, citywide, everyone is reading the same book. We are told a date by when we should have read to a certain point in the book; for example, we’d be told to read to the first ball held at the Wilkes’ plantation. Players would have received a formal invitation to the ball along with costume suggestions. Then the players would get to engage with that real-world party as the action from the actual story plays out.”

“While reading Cinderella, I’d like if actions and recipes for the perfect scrubbing of floors or green window-washing could be accessed. Prince Charming could lead you to a dating service. The mice and birds would actually provide you with a pattern for sewing Cinderella’s dress.”

It would be really cool to experience the world through ‘other people’s eyes.’ If I’m reading a biography of an influential person, I’d like to be able to use augmented reality or location-aware mobile apps to get a sense of how that person would look at things…”

“I would invent community-sourced story arcs that allow individuals the right to influence the future storytelling of that narrative. For example, what if the Game of Thrones television show had a separate production (maybe for Web consumption) where the storytelling decisions came from the community, instead of from the book?”

Importantly, this survey was taken by “early adopters”, so it is not necessarily representative of the general public. And, while I love these ideas, I wonder how open the masses are to them. There is no basic standard (yet) for measuring QR code and augmented reality use, but I haven’t seen astounding results as of today. There have been some neat campaigns, but not the high levels of engagement one would hope for.

Regardless of their technological aspects, the “Four I’s of Storytelling” provide a guide for all messaging:

  1. Immersion: Take the audience deeper into your story by providing additional and meaningful background and/or engaging all five senses
  2. Interactivity: Allow your audience to influence the story and interact with others around the story
  3. Integration: In addition to presenting a cohesive story across all platforms, layering in real-world elements will help cement the message with your audience
  4. Impact: Inspire the audience to take action in their lives

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Growth obsessed startup co-founder (MusicBox) and strategist-for-hire.

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