How streaming services are cashing in on immersive experiences

0
389

There are a lot of streaming services to choose from: Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, NowTV, and Amazon Prime to name a few.

These services are no strangers to the lure and power of experiential marketing and have created some exciting experiences for their viewers as a result.

One recent example was the Marvellous Mrs Maisel second season promotion event. Amazon decided to recreate the iconic Carnegie Deli as a pop-up in a downtown location.

Every minute detail was carefully reconstructed to transport diners back to 1958. They also created the sort of Pastrami sandwich the Carnegie deli was famous for, named it The Midge after the show’s star, and placed vintage photobooths for attendees to get take-home mementos.

Now that the word is changing, at least temporarily, streaming services are upping their game; but how do they compete in the field of experiential and immersive experiences when people can no longer gather together?

Movie studios have been utilising the power of immersive event marketing for some time, immersing their audiences in their fictionalised ‘worlds’. One such campaign that was a runaway success was the marketing for The Dark Knight in 2008.

Is this virtual immersive experience the natural next step from merchandising and meet and greets?

The company behind it, 42 Entertainment, created a website containing a virtual paper trail to Gotham. Fake newspapers, election campaigns and interactive elements allowed fans to dig into the site and play with the virtual world they had created.

The campaign ran for 15 months and ended up engaging with over 11 million unique participants in over 70 countries.

The Dark Knight shines a light on a possible option – stay true to the nature of streaming and keep it online. Is this virtual immersive experience the natural next step from merchandising and meet and greets?

Netflix made its first foray into virtual reality in 2017, though the Stranger Things VR experience the company created to showcase at the San Diego Comic-Con, The initial incarnation of the VR experience included a PC backpack giving the player a greater sense of freedom and immersion.

where does a company like Secret Cinema go when it is unable to do the one thing it was created for?

The at-home version which can be viewed on YouTube, or the 360 version which was on Netflix did not have the same range of motion which meant they were more limited. As this was nearly three years ago, we can assume that a similar endeavour carried out today would be more detailed and potentially lead to a bigger buy-in from fans.

Another Netflix connection to an immersive marketing trend is Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, the 2018 interactive science fiction film which allowed viewers to choose their own path within the film and ultimately which ending they would see. They reprised this concept recently with the Netflix original series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The “Kimmy Vs The Reverend” episode had the same viewer choice options and allowed the audience to experience different endings if watched multiple times.

The platform-free style of this concept meant it could be scaled to any device or channel. Samsung took advantage of this in January when they were launching new devices. A Bandersnatch-style campaign was hosted on Instagram stories, allowing followers to choose paths that would take them on a journey.

Samsung was not the only brand to ride this bandwagon either. Tinder implemented their own in-app version called ‘Swipe Night’ where dating hopefuls can navigate a set of decisions to steer the story. The subsequent moral and practical choices they make are then added to their dating profile and assist in making matches for the users.

Since the pandemic began, there have been little to no opportunities to celebrate or experience anything in groups. So where does a company like Secret Cinema go when it is unable to do the one thing it was created for?

Secret Cinema began in London in 2007 and its primary purpose is to hold large-scale fantastical events where attendees can dress as characters from the films, enter a venue that’s stage managed to resemble the world of the film and then view it as a group.

Not to be deterred, the savvy folk at Secret Cinema were fast to turn around their model and made ‘Secret Sofa’, where fans can join in the fun by watching a designated film at the same place and time from home.

The ingenuity of freelancers and troubadours cannot be underestimated and that’s where people and brands can make big wins

SecretSofa sends weekly emails with suggestions for costumes you can wear, as well as food, drinks and props to help you inhabit the world of the film. And they have partnered with big brands, such as Haagen-Dazs, which helps to recover some of the ticket money loss.

This sort of agile thinking means that Secret Cinema is not only managing financially to carry on working during an actual lockdown, but cementing fans opinions and strengthening their brand loyalty.

At a grass roots level, we can see this happening all over social media too. Small live music venues have started to host Facebook Watch parties via their company pages. Artists and performers are taking to TikTok where they can reach viewers on and giving free concerts or shows, the latest promotional video from TikTok has Little Mix and Gordon Ramsey involved, showing that celebrity endorsement shows no signs of slowing down either.

The ingenuity of freelancers and troubadours cannot be underestimated and that’s where people and brands can make big wins. Brands can tap into this via an Experiential Marketing Agency who are able to handle scalable online events or the quick change of format needed to minimise damage in this unusual situation we find ourselves in.