Butterfly at Ad Week Europe: The importance of experiences

Here at Butterfly, we are passionate about storytelling and eliciting strong emotional connections from consumers, so we were glad to observe that the masses not only want to get their emotions amplified but are also looking for more participative ways of doing so.

Participation is replacing passivity

The Millennial Generation which has grown up in the digital revolution, where everybody is hyper-connected, are increasingly looking for real experiences.

Millennials are “screen agnostics” who are demanding the ability to influence the content they are interested in and are looking for new ways to move beyond experiences, to name but a few:  virtual living-rooms, communal viewing, collaborative storytelling in virtual spaces, 360 degree videos and citizen journalism.

In the entertainment sector, whether it is real life or online entertainment, this translates into an increasing thirst for participation and immersion. The connected generation wants to have a bigger impact than before, live the moment and is looking for the human side of experiences more than ever.

Offline entertainment – A deeper  step into storytelling

We attended an interview with Felix Barett, known as the master of Storytelling and pioneer of Punchdrunk – an immersive theatre experience.  Punchdrunk theatre is a “large scale installation based theatre” that contains 120 rooms in a 4-floor warehouse, an adult playground that helps the audience to develop their curiosity and creativity, as they are free to choose their characters and explore the available spaces as they wish.

What triggered the creation of this new hyper-real theatre experiment was the founder’s fascination for theatre and his desire to “give the theatre back to the crowd” and it works really well!

This takes storytelling to new levels because Punchdrunk empowers the crowd, allowing them to have an impact and to play an integral part in the story.

Punchdrunk also occasionally works with brands and their last brand partnership was on last year’s Silverpoint project with Absolut Vodka.

The Silverpoint project aimed to create a live and a digital space by creating a “Candy Crush” style game. The game started with the story of a mysterious girl and gamers had to unlock levels to unlock more details of the story. To involve players even more, some got the chance to participate in real life experiences as well. The whole experiment aimed to explore the addictive and immersive aspect of mobile games as well as new ways of storytelling.

The power of online videos

Extolling the virtues of experiences online were Matt Brittin, President of Google EMEA and Nigel Morris, CEO Dentsu Aegis Network Americas & EMEA.

Brittin and Morris put it that what gives credibility and power to video-based content is that, when watching a video, individuals are the ones who decide what they want to watch, when they want to watch and how they want to watch it.

Also, the purpose of online videos is broadening beyond entertainment into light touch education. Have you ever learned something by watching a tutorial video? I bet you have!

YouTube is becoming an instruction manual as anyone can now learn how to play the guitar, create a new hairstyle, learn how to use Excel etc.  This again proves that people are seeking real life, tangible examples and it works because watching others doing something is the best way to learn.

What are the implications for brands?

If brands want to connect with their consumers’ behaviours, they have to enable them to have an impact and integrate them at some point.

To maximise their audience, brands have to optimise their online presence and cannot neglect the power of online video. Even though TV still remains a powerful media, Brittin’s position on how to generate sales is quite clear, pointing out that “ online videos provide a return on investment 15% higher than TV”.

However this cannot be done only for the sake of creating video, as the content still has to be carefully selected and stay in line with the whole brand image and strategy.  Videos also have to catch the audience’s attention really quickly, from the very first seconds, because if they represent a huge percentage of the global internet traffic (between 80-90%), viewers are still the ones who decide whether to skip them or not.  The power for now very much remains with the consumer.

Marie-Hélène Merlet, Strategy Intern, 28.04.16 (marie@butterflylondon.com)