How marketers can use next-generation tech for their campaigns

A man in a bowler hat and somber dark suit twirls on the spot. Sparks fly as he tap dances underneath a crystal chandelier, then somehow starts tap dancing on the ceiling, his head nearly brushing against the pendants of the chandelier.

Yes, tap dancing on the ceiling – this was a commercial by Yellowglen, a company that makes sparkling wine. And while the commercial would probably have been kind of interesting if viewers were to watch it on their smartphones, it was much more compelling on a large screen in a darkened theatre, with its viewers wearing 3D glasses and almost feeling as though they could reach out and grasp the sparks cascading off the man’s shoes.

“Is TV still valid? Absolutely … it teleports ourselves, our friends, and our brands all around the world. We can send messages out in better, more interesting ways than ever,” said James Stewart, president of Geneva Film Co. He was speaking on stage on Friday during Advertising and Marketing Week in Toronto.

“The golden age of TV is still alive and well.”

Stewart’s company specializes in creating 3D media for films and commercials. One of its recent projects was a short called Foxed!, filmed entirely with stop-motion animation and stereoscopic 3D using a Canon EOS 5D camera, something Stewart said was “done as a challenge.”

Given how Geneva Film is so focused on 3D, it’s easy to see why Stewart has a lot of faith in the power of new technologies to make the TV medium into something than larger than life. During his talk, he showed several new technologies that will change how marketers and advertisers create appeal for their brands.

For example, 3D TVs are no longer making as big as a splash as they once were, Stewart noted. The new trend now is with 4K and ultra high definition (UHD) TVs, capturing everything in much higher resolution than what audiences have seen with the high definition TVs currently on the market.

Plus, wearable technology has been gaining more and more traction in the past year or so, he added. For example, with smartwatches and Google Glass building a lot of buzz, why not extend to wearable tech for accessories like rings, necklaces, hats, shirts, or pants? For example, a creative marketer could try harnessing wearable tech to gauge a consumer’s mood or reaction to a certain product, like this cat ear headset built by a Japanese company.

Then there are companies tapping into virtual reality – for example, U.S. company Oculus VR is currently working on the Oculus Rift, a head-mounted stereoscopic display that makes games feel much more real. When players turn their heads while wearing the device, the game seems to follow their line of vision, making it feel as though they’re surrounded by the sights and sounds of the game.

And while we think of our smartphones and tablets as high-grade consumer tech right now, at some point, we may find them clunky and outdated. Soon, it may be possible to shine coloured light on our forearms, swiping and pinching there in the same way we do on our mobile devices.

But that doesn’t mean that you need the flashiest technology to put on a great marketing campaign, Stewart said. He showed his audience a short animated film he directed called “Daily Battles,” a 3D film based on paper artwork by artist Béatrice Coron.

“If you can do this with paper, how can you use technology to reach your audience in a new interesting way?” he said. “We need to be smart about how we’re serving our clients … Content and execution is key.”

Plus, marketers can’t forget the impact social media has had on the industry. Small marketing campaigns for local businesses will no longer be confined to just one city or region – instead, they can blow up and reach people globally through social networks, Stewart said.

He gave the example of “Dumb Ways to Die,” a short cartoonish public service announcement on train safety created for Metro Train in Melbourne, Australia. The video is a simple cartoon featuring a catchy jingle, but somehow it’s worked. At the time of this writing, it’s racked up more than 70 million views on YouTube.

The key is that today’s marketers can’t be afraid of technology, Stewart added. He even recommended marketer agencies install a Chief Creative Technologist role, someone who can explain new creative ideas to clients and “disrespect the impossible.”

Nor can smaller marketing firms avoid embracing new technology, he said. As these new technologies hit the mainstream, they’re bound to become less expensive and therefore more accessible to digital marketers – and all marketers will need to learn to “hack” these technologies to keep up in a digital age.

“To me, I use the word ‘hack’ to mean, to hack something means to take something that exists and change it,” Stewart said in an interview after his presentation.

“No matter what the budget is, you need to have a great story.”

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Candice So
Candice So
Candice is a graduate of Carleton University and has worked in several newsrooms as a freelance reporter and intern, including the Edmonton Journal, the Ottawa Citizen, the Globe and Mail, and the Windsor Star. Candice is a dog lover and a coffee drinker.

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