The gumbification of experience

New event technologies transform environments into storybooks

In my new role as strategist and practice area lead for the Experiential Studio at Jack Morton, I’ve been thinking a lot about Gumby.

Just in case you don’t remember Gumby – he was an odd-looking claymation creation from the 60s and 70s made relevant by Eddie Murphy on SNL and who appeared in recent ads by GMC  & Honda. Gumby and his pony pal Pokey would walk into storybooks. It was his superpower – the ability to walk right into a story, experience it, and become a part of it.

And when I think about the capabilities today’s experiential techs bring to strategists and creatives planning our clients’ events and environments, it’s that ability to immerse the audience in both shared and personalized stories that is most exciting.

By enabling people to engage with their environments through voice, eye-tracking, gesture, or movement, we’ve begun to make people a part of the story they are co-creating with us.

The environment becomes the storybook. The experiences become the story.

That means mapping the audience’s paths through the experience – and the micro-moments that make it up – to deliver information, surprise, interaction, even joy.

AR overlays – whether 3D animations or videos – actually allow familiar environments, and the objects in them, to tell their own stories as people explore and engage. Check out the new NBA AR app from the National Basketball Association that allows anyone to drop an NBA-branded hoop into any environment.

While we’re still in the exploration stage of what mixed reality means for advertisers, experiential technologies offer the opportunity for brands to fully integrate into the lives of fans and advocates and to add value instead of interruption. For some great thought starters, check out http://www.madewitharkit.com/.

I believe thinking about an event or an environment as the blank pages of an interactive storybook prompts us to think about the experience overall and what it does for and to our audiences, instead of thinking just about adding “Wow” tech-enhanced moments that really aren’t all that “Wow” anymore.

The time of gratuitous event tech is over. The time for story-making is now.

I think Gumby would be proud.

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