Defining what constitutes an advertisement and what doesn’t in this industry is a never-ending debate. I don’t personally care about the labeling around it and honestly, consumers out there probably don’t either.
They do, however, distinguish between what is relatable and what isn’t worth attention; and they do this very quickly nowadays, which brings us to an important point: Engagement.
We all hear about it, why it is important and the many ways to achieve it. What is being said and how it is said are now more than ever, essential elements to communicate with consumers in this day and age.
Works that stand out are those that not only resonate at eye level of consumers but that also fit in a relatable context. With this in mind, I have selected two ads I like, and one I don’t, which focus on how they did –or didn’t engage.
One I Like
The Art Institute of Chicago with Airbnb – Van Gogh’s Bedroom
I like it because it speaks with context and bridges art and the world we live in using an existing platform as the main means of communication. Even though such collaborations can be sometimes difficult, this one had excellent synergy.
As a limited-time execution, it was a beautifully crafted experience turning Airbnb’s offering of a place to stay into a whole new thing within a world-famous painting and contributed to maximizing PR power, social sharing potential and communications impact as a whole.
The 60th GRAMMYs – Play the City
This is a great example of how much joy technology can channel to users, if and when, paired with the right context. I live in Tokyo and see lots of people absorbed with their smartphones all the time everywhere; this work reminded me of the simple pleasure that it is to lift your head up and see what’s outside.
I don’t know how accurately the camera could detect objects from a moving car, or how the captured surroundings could sound like actual music but regardless, this experience seems relatable to anyone that has ever set foot in a transport vehicle and enjoyed looking out the window – it invites you to engage without even trying.
If every Uber car came equipped with such a content, it probably wouldn’t be as exciting though because we would easily get used to it.
One I Don’t Like
Quebec City Magic Festival – The Mind Reading Billboard
I see that this one had good insight and many good things in it, and I get what they were trying to do. At the same time, it also left me feeling like they underestimated the audience it was meant for. None seem particularly surprised or wowed by all the technology behind it because it just looks like a technology demo.
That turned into noise when it came down to delivering whatever message it was meant to push with a glorified magic stunt without truly engaging its audience. People will always enjoy laughing, discovering, being moved and motivated, and these emotions as well as what drives them should be never underestimated.
What keeps changing is the way we embrace content, and quite frankly for that amount of work, an actual magician could’ve literally done the trick.