I was in San Francisco over Christmas. I decided to get away by myself for a week or so to somewhere I'd never been and had no friends. I just thought it'd be an interesting thing to do. It's a place that I've always fancied going to. Some of my favourite films are set there, it has some amazing engineering and it sounded like the kind of open-minded welcoming city I would enjoy travelling to. Oh, but let's not mention the hills... my vertigo wouldn't appreciate that.
Before travelling I bought the usual bunf, some more of the usual bunf, chatted to friends who had been there, watched documentaries, listened to lots and lots and lots of different music from the area and watched various different films that I'd not seen before. It was kind of like boning up on TGI, Mintel and Datamonitor before getting the free brand samples from the client.
The purpose of this multimedia extravaganza was to try and give me as much a feeling of the place before I landed. By soaking up images, accents, opinions and criticisms I was hoping to hit the ground running and have an understanding of what to expect.
It didn't work.
When I landed I hit the BART, got to my hotel and got out on the streets and pounded the concrete as soon as I could.
When I got out onto the streets, heard the voices, watched the body language and looked at the scences I realised I didn't know it at all. The San Francisco brand was a completely different experience than I had been told about.
You see there is information, and then there are experiences.
That feeling of a place where you get under the skin of it, where it's your opinions of the place and not others, where you feel it instead of learn about it - that's what I call 'Getting the clip of a place.' (I think that's a northern thing...)
It's essentially why people travel. They want to experience different things. Not just read about them or see them on Flickr, but experience them. In 1 hour on the streets of San Francisco I learned more than than I did soaking up all the information before I left. I was fully immersed in the experience.
Here at Woo HQ I enjoy working on our experiential work. It gives us the opportunity to really explore what a brand is truly about, and to give an accurate representation of this to consumers.
You see, we can give information to them via Direct Mail, websites or posters - truly value-added information that the consumer finds interesting and informative, but it's difficult to give a true experience in a one-way relationship. This is when we use experiential activity.
This is the perfect opportunity to give the consumer a great experience, a true experience of the brand, one that benefits both the consumer and the brand. And like my walking around the hills of San Francisco, it gives a much richer, two-way and true experience of something.
Maybe I should coin this 'Getting the clip of a brand...'