Ben Callis
Ben Callis 7 November 2018

Story Through Play: How we are using Gamification to build more meaningful brand engagement.

We are constantly striving to build engagements that give brands a relevant and authentic role in existing and emerging audience behaviour.

Play is an increasingly relevant and powerful addition to our toolkit for brand experiences, allowing us to better tell brand and product stories that hook, engage and retain increasingly hard-to-reach audiences.

Truly experiential advertising can differ from other media engagement in a fundamental way, in that it can offer the chance for people to influence outcomes through their own actions. We have found that giving people even the simplest set of evaluations to consider can have a profound emotional effect.

Our efforts over the past six months have focussed on developing experiences that activate parts of the brain associated with motivation and reward — the 'reward-related mesolimbic neural circuits', to proffer its correct title.

We are concentrating on creating environments and interactions that allow people to absorb brand messaging as a series of choices about actions they take, rather than passively observing them. And we are beginning to see that not only is this approach more emotionally rewarding for participants, but it has also unlocked a new broader palette of emotional possibilities from which we can design experiences.

Two examples of our current focus are Catwalk and ADAS, brand experiences recently developed for Jaguar cars, released at Mondial Auto in Paris earlier this year.

Each of these interactions delivered different, complex technology and performance messaging about Jaguar cars. Both were designed so that people go through a series of rapid and automatic sets of evaluations as things happen to them during the experience.

Catwalk is character-based, hands-free engagement, built using 'deep learning,' artificial intelligence principles. The cats’ behaviour changes as it learns and the experience becomes richer the more that people engage with it. Through interacting with the character, participants learn about adaptive dynamics — the technology that makes a Jaguar car drive the way it does.

ADAS is physically presented as an oversized mobile phone experience using a platform structure and scrolling mechanic popular in mobile games. Participants learn about the cutting edge driver assist technology that is in all Jaguar cars.

For both experiences, Jaguar's technology and performance stories are an integral part of the participant’s physical actions. Given the cluttered nature of where the experiences are located, it was more essential than ever to create an optimal performance state as quickly as possible — so both Catwalk and ADAS are structured around the following gaming principles to make them as compelling as possible:

  • An activity requiring a degree of skill
  • A merging of action and awareness
  • Clear goals
  • Direct, immediate feedback
  • Concentration on the task at hand
  • A sense of control 
  • A loss of self-consciousness
  • An altered sense of time

Although the initial brief from the brand was for a motor show installation only, we had always approached the development of both projects with an ambition of productisation, future ROI, and a life beyond the Paris launch event. As such, we are treating the invaluable exposure we are receiving in the French capital as a kind of beta test for both projects, to establish audience appetite for this type of engagement.

An invaluable lesson gleaned from these latest pieces of work is that by boiling down all the emotional intensity from the most immersive representation of a brand experience, we have been able to isolate the right emotional triggers and create more resonant, memorable mnemonics, and distinctive brand assets that will connect and engage consumers in a more meaningful way to the brand across multiple platforms.

This behaviour of shifting brand engagement from passive, to more active, across as many platforms as possible, means that we can already see higher levels of engagement, dwell time, and organic share. And not only are we able to create a better value exchange for consumers of each brand experience — but also for the brand itself.

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