Digital Experience: Life Through Glass

August 6, 2021

As a brand experiential specialist, I’ve always looked at content as a by-product of experience. Live it, love it, capture it, share it – always in that order. Great content was the result of real-life experiences, not their purpose.

COVID plunged many of us into an experiential dystopia in which content quite literally replaced the world outside our doors. A life of content and a life as content. Our bedrooms have become TV studios, our kitchens are centre stages and our pets supporting characters. Every moment styled, optimised, enhanced and digitally distributed. We catch-up and we binge. We share more and more, but shared experiences seem fewer and farther between. We are less involved with more content every day. We are living our life through glass. Here in Singapore, where being masked in public is still required by law, my memories of handshakes and hugs and smiles from strangers are fading.

This being the internet, some people have already stopped reading this post and are currently setting the comment section on fire with variations on “ok boomer” and “old man shouts at clouds.” For those of you who toughed it out with me, here’s the payoff: The professional value of the lockdown experience has been transformational and overwhelmingly positive for me as a marketer and a strategist. The ghost of Christmas future has come to visit, and we’ll never be the same. This post will discuss the basic insight, how it informs our agency approach and what it might mean for the future of live and digital experience.

Over the past year at ALIVE we took our existing In Real Life (IRL) toolkit full of frameworks, tactics and technologies for the digital integration of IRL brand activation and adapted them for fully digital engagement. As we took on more ambitious projects, delivered more digital experiences and collected more real-world data, we realized that this was an opportunity for an even more fundamental growth. The restrictions imposed on life in 2020 forced us back to first principles, to ask the most basic questions and it gave us licence to talk with both new and long-time clients about the things we’ve come to take for granted. What does it mean to live a good life through glass, and how do we help brands do great things in that world?

The result is a new strategic approach that we’re calling Life Through Glass or LTG. It’s an experiential approach to solving brand and business problems that has different assumptions about engagement and interaction based on a more grounded, realistic view of the human relationship with technology and its ability (or failure) to satisfy and fulfil us.

Our human needs haven’t changed, but motivations, expectations, ambition, identity and community are measured on a different scale, to a different standard and are traded with a different currency. It’s tough for the analogue generation and 8-bit dinosaurs like me. Change is hard, young people are strange and technology is basically magic. It’s also a challenge for the My First Smartphone generation who live in a world that was built by their grandparents, for their parents.

Dissonance is everywhere. Media and marketers often choose to exploit it. At ALIVE we operate on the principle that people deserve better marketing. So, I’m approaching problems by identifying then trying to resolve tensions within and between people or communities and the technologies that increasingly bring the world to them.

I’m hoping to use this blog series to look specifically at how we approach audiences, engagement planning and execution for conferences, events, brand experiences and activations. I’ll contrast our IRL vs LTG approaches, the roles of live & canned content and how we identify areas of overlap and use these to tackle digital migration and digital fatigue. If you have any questions please get in touch.