Reimagining Brand Experience Beyond Covid
Andrew Casher, founder and CEO of Miroma’s experiential agency Hyperactive shares his thoughts on hybrid events and lessons learned from producing the online rave experience, BBL CLB.
Are hybrid events (a mix of virtual and in-person) the future of brand experience?
When it comes to hybrid events, in many respects, the genie is out of the bottle. The format is established and if the last few months at Hyperactive HQ provide an indication for the future, then yes. Every conversation we’re having with our clients are focusing on hybrid experiences.
This is for a couple of reasons. Firstly, brands are approaching the return to in-person experiences with a sense of caution. No one can predict the next chapter of the pandemic, so hybrid allows for flexibility and pragmatism should we need to adapt plans and lean more towards digital than live. We are focused on taking clients creative concepts that can be executed in real life or online, with a scale of URL vs IRL options within that.
Secondly, a hybrid approach allows us to offer a new set of measurable data around an experience. Hybrid brand activations have the potential to scale and reach audiences far beyond the footprint of an IRL event, offering an innovative contact coupled with a robust return on investment. There are so many exciting products (plus more in development) that help facilitate this interactivity that I think what we’re seeing today is only scratching the surface of what is possible.
How did BBL CLB come about?
BBL CLB was our lockdown innovation and came about purely as a response to the pandemic. As an agency, Hyperactive operates at the beating heart of culture and our network plays a vital role in the campaigns we develop for our clients. This network is years of working with talent, promoters, venues, artist management…all of whom, like us were hit pretty brutally by the virus. We felt that we had a sense of responsibility to do something positive that supported the industries that had supported us over the years.
As a collective of wildly creative, entrepreneurial and proactive producers, we identified a gap that the BBL CLB would eventually fill. This was about connecting music fans who would ordinarily be next to each other on a sweaty dancefloor, remotely and offering an immersive experience that could recreate all aspects of a night out. At the same time, news channels were dominated by stories of illegal raves popping up across the UK, and this inspired the concept: a virtual and sociable experience that combined immersive theatre with live music.
The Bubble Club is part interactive film, part online treasure hunt, part escape room, with a whole load of real-time mobile and digital interaction. A mad adventure to locate a secret virtual venue, where we streamed live headline DJs every night. The concept flew into place at the speed of light, working with some incredibly talented scriptwriters, film directors, developers, promoters and DJs, all of whom ran with the idea and added colour and creative energy. We’ve since run around 20 shows, sold thousands of tickets, brought on board some amazing brand partners in Reebok and Pioneer and created an entertainment format that I genuinely believe is unique and game-changing. We’ve got big plans for it!
What are some of the biggest takeaways from your experience with BBL CLB?
My biggest takeaway is not to restrict our own creativity and entrepreneurialism. We took a risk and we ran with it. Sure there are learnings, some things we got wrong, some things we’d do differently. But this expression of what we’re capable of, as an agency, is probably our best case study. Brands are responding amazingly to this as it combines insight, innovation and courage.
Secondly, to launch our most complex project entirely remotely speaks volumes about what can be achieved. We built an immersive digital platform from scratch, populated it with multi-channel content, wrote scripts, designed the brand, booked world-class DJ talent, promoted it and ran multi-camera live-livestreams. And I think I had one face to face meeting.
Have the objectives of brand experiences changed since the pandemic?
We view brand experiences as the opportunity for a tangible exchange between brand and consumer, that forges an emotional connection. I’m not sure that this has changed as a result of the pandemic. If anything, hybrid experiences have allowed brands to maintain this while we’ve not been allowed to engage face to face, and during lockdown we saw some incredible examples of brands taking responsibility, entertaining or offering their consumers a rich experience at home. This may be where expectations have evolved, as consumers expect a more meaningful contact from brands.
What gives you the most confidence in experiential going forward?
As a sector we have been forced to be both resilient and progressive simultaneously, As we make small steps in emerging from the pandemic, I feel excited about new formats, new technologies, new ideas that will shape future brand experiences.
Hyperactive is a Miroma Group company. Find out more at wearehyperactive.com