Throughout 2017, we watched pop-up shops transform into interactive spaces, museums and galleries support visitor engagement and retail spaces become multi-sensory experiences. In this, we saw the rise of a new mode of branding and outreach that signals a distinctly modern shift in marketing: the emergence of immersive environments.
Immersive environments serve as spaces augmented through interactive technologies and inventive architecture. They are world-building sites, where fabric and metal, water and land and projections and paintings interlace—where reality is reinvented in a structured arena. Blurring the boundaries between art and experiential marketing, immersive environments gesture to new directions in participatory retailing and reveal new heights in product campaigns.
Within the last calendar cycle, three brand-oriented immersive environments stand out for their unusual draw, their creative points of interest and their remarkable success.
- Refinery29: 29Rooms
Refinery29 charmed the West Coast in 2017 with its 29 individually arranged rooms, each channeling imagination and inspiration. The expansive funhouse, which boasted collaborations from A-listers like Janelle Monáe, fused style with culture and art. A surge of Instagrammers revealed foam floors, a ceiling of hanging flowers, a boat above a plastic ocean, versatile props and playthings and inarguable enjoyment. The outcome? Radical brand exposure.
- Samsung: Galaxy S8 Launch at Milan Design Week
Created in collaboration with Universal Everything and the progressive Zaha Hadid studio, Samsung worked Milan Design Week with a building-long interactive installation influenced by the design of the new Samsung Galaxy 8. Thoughtfully placed tablets and light shows made for a captivating experience that combined light and dark, figure and form. The result? A more complex, artistic mode of conceiving of Samsung’s latest offering.
- Melissa Galeria: Store Experience
Art intersects retail in SoHo’s Melissa Galeria, which unites hip footwear with unexpected architecture and lighting designs. As much a creative installation as a clever means of marketing, Melissa Galeria rethinks the shop space as a clever combination of natural and artificial, of progressive and timely. The consequence? The alignment of modern footwear with boundary-pushing design.
Refinery29, Samsung and Melissa Galeria run the spectrum in terms of target audience, most frequent product users and products offered. Yet, each of their immersive environments proved explosively popular and massively effective in terms of conveying their respective brand DNA. The magic at work here is a balanced combination of crowd draw, memorability and sharability. What does this mean? You go, you remember and you share.
- You go. With a calculated arrangement of audio-visual and interactive elements, you’ll want to experience an immersive environment, whether you’re taking an opportunity to dip into another universe for a moment or situate yourself within the artistic composition of a known studio.
- You remember. The environments are original and engaging, exciting and playful. Rather than remember a tagline or jingle, you’ll commit the lived experience of a particular brand to memory, forging a deeper connection with the brand.
- You share. Instagram-worthy shots and hot hashtags take the environment from its concrete space to the flexible web. Retweets and likes bring brand visibility, desirable coverage and recyclable audience-created content.
With the rise of immersive environments in 2017, the reasonable question to ask is: How can 2018 bring a more innovating and compelling brand experience?