We discuss association’s new showcase for the best non-traditional advertising.
For many years, companies that used to make traditional advertising have been producing work that is more than just film, print or out-of-home advertising. Members of the Advertising Producers Association now make experiential, virtual reality, interactive posters and websites for product launches. This work isn’t eligible for the APA Collection, which is about film only (whether for TV, the internet or any screen), so the APA have created a new platform for their members to promote this work, which is exciting and in great demand by clients and agencies.
It’s called IDEAS – the Interactive Digital Experiential Advertising Showcase – and will first be seen at The Future of Advertising…In One Afternoon at BAFTA on 22nd February, before being featured in advertising events around the world, as with the APA Collection. The APA Show is big enough already, and frankly there are already enough expensive awards nights, so the entry fee is £50 and the format is simple – a showcase of the ten best interactive or experiential productions from APA members that year.
We asked some of the APA members who were involved in its creation why the ad industry needs such an event. One reason is that this sort of work is hard to define. “Inherently digital work can be diverse and broad,” says Luke Ritchie, Executive Producer at Nexus Interactive Arts, “so despite our best efforts it’s hard to pigeonhole.” It’s true. You’ve got film, print, out-of-home; and then you’ve got the other, more experiential, interactive, digital sort of stuff that makes little sense in any of the traditional categories.
“At the moment this work gets lost,” admits Luke’s colleague James Tomkinson, Managing Director of Nexus Productions, because it’s hard to PR – a case study or making-of film isn’t as compelling as the real thing. “Often these making-ofs do not look as eye catching as a commercial and they would invariably be sitting side by side one another.”
“The best work tells a story,” states Luke. “Whether linear or interactive, you’re transported visually and emotionally. Interaction is another layer that helps transport visitors inside the story – they’re no longer the viewer. I’m naturally biased, but when you get it right, traditional advertising has nothing on it.”
Neil Morris, Founder of Grand Visual agrees, saying great interactive campaigns “allow consumers to become part of the campaign in the course of their everyday lives, blurring the lines between the physical and digital world.” This can only be good for brands. As he puts it, “fostering deeper, more personalised relationships with your customers is not desirable, it is essential.”
Interactive, digital and experiential disciplines can also be functional rather than promotional or entertaining. Nexus Interactive Arts recently made a Kinect based game called Woodland Wiggle, designed with Royal London Hospital to help children with mobility problems exercise despite physical limitations. A film couldn’t do that.
“Obviously all the major award programmes now include interactive categories,” concedes Neil. “What’s appealing about the APA’s IDEAS is that it is cleaner, simpler and more accessible for the audience – championing just ten great projects.”
Its simplicity is typical of the APA’s approach, as Chief Executive Steve Davies notes. “It is a simple idea, to showcase interactive / experiential advertising work in the same way that the APA Collection showcases commercials,” he says. “It is important that this brilliant, groundbreaking work is seen, to help enable the companies making it to develop their businesses, thrive and innovate further.”
“Like all awards the first year is the hardest,” says James. “Once the audience recognize the quality of the work and how much it has piqued their interest it will be something to look forward to.”
Neil sees IDEAS becoming more and more relevant. “As creative technology becomes more and more important, so too, does the creative talent behind it,” he says. “This showcase for UK interactive practitioners is therefore very important.”
The showcase’s horizons are global, as Steve points out. “I saw from our event in Shanghai and the Chinese agencies that attended that there is a huge appetite for providing clients with creative ways of using new technology to reach consumers,” he says, “and that the UK is seen as being a world leader in interactive and experiential advertising. Our showcase will ensure agencies in China and around the world see the best new work, can see who has made it and can connect with those UK production companies for new projects.”
Entries for IDEAS are now open until Friday 15th January 2016. For more information check the APA website.
EDIT: Due to popular demand, the deadline for entries to the IDEAS showcase has been extended from Friday 15th January 2016 to Friday 29th January 2016.