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If You Build It, They Will Come (and Play) August 25, 2009

Posted by jorgevega in Uncategorized.
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One of the most interesting aspects of the work that TBWA / Chiat / Day has done for Apple is  helping design the Apple Stores. Lee Clow and his team have been quite successful in encapsulating Apple’s spirit of intuitive function and organic design. This is part of their Media Arts approach to dealing with every point of interaction between brand  and consumer.

But in the end, as with any brand experience today, the effectiveness of the experience created is increasingly measured by the enthusiastic and unexpected ways in which people integrate into it.

A kid identified as Nicholi has been using the 5th Avenue Apple Store as his ‘studio,’ recording himself lip-synching and dancing to various songs. The very fact that he felt free -read unashamed – to do this on a regular basis points out both to the need of creating a retail experience where consumers feel free to interact with the brand on their own, but more specifically, the opportunity for creating spaces where brand interaction is more conducive to communal entertainment.

Our basic experience with digital entertainment is still very individual and private in terms of its localization and people we interact with.  But that’s changing. Whereas some people might see Nicholi and others as randomly goofing around (look at the face of bewilderment people have in the background), I think there is something more telling about the openness to goof around in public like that today. In essence Nicholi is expressing himself to the digital community, just like millions around the world use YouTube and other services to do the same. But I think it still holds that most people open up like this because the internet offers a ‘safe’ space facilitating casual and anonymous connections that are still pretty meaningful; we think we are not as exposed as in the ‘real’ world. Would most people uploading videos play that mediocre version of ‘Wonderwall’ to a public, or do that stupid dance out in the street? Even if we are indeed broadcasting to anybody, for the most part it is still behavior of a private context.

But of course, the internet is no longer so anonymous. Does this affect our notion of what privacy and intimacy are? I think so, which is why I’d argue that individuals like Nicholi don’t have any reservation about expressing themselves so openly to the public / physical space just like they do in the digital / private space. They don’t differentiate between the two, mainly because those categories don’t hold true anymore.

For the digital generations using technology regularly to engage their networks and communities this is an increasingly natural attitude. YouTube and other ways of showcasing ourselves and interacting with others on the Internet have pushed notions of privacy and personal behavior out of the window, in the way shifting the nature of electronic entertainment from an individual or localized setting to the higher plane of the casual community experience. In a way, the real world has become another digital sphere – ‘networkable’ and accessible – as our digital self continues to complement our ‘real’ self more seamlessly and our digitally-borne drive to interact with the network in a casual, almost instantaneous way spills over to ‘real’ life (flash mobs anyone?).

Brands that can tap into the dynamic of the ‘user’ by creating a space where it can be transposed unto the physical public space have much to win. The consumer of the 21st century lives in a tribe – sometimes spontaneous, informal, and playful – and brands should strive to be the fire around which the community sits to share and play.

via BoingBoing