sony xperia goldfish in tank

Have a play. Or not.

22 minutes into the future we’ll be able to demonstrate what makes something great (or dumb), by, er, actually demonstrating what it is that makes that particular thing, great (or dumb). Allow me to explain: so often, in comms agencies, we are tasked with simply creating a message and paying to show it to people. A lot. Yeah, there’s advanced trickery in targeting and persuasion techniques. But we’re often missing a trick – the ability to get people to have a hands-on experience.

Compare and contrast: Xperia Underwater Apps versus DXM Labworks versus Escape My House.

Xperia Underwater Apps

A wee while back, W+K persuaded Sony to throw some code up on GitHub, for anyone to have a play and see what happens when their Xperia gets wet. Yes, on purpose.

Paraphrased from AdWeek: “A new feature on the phone uses ultrasound to sense when the phone is submerged. A handful of 30-second videos demonstrate apps capitalising on that detection technology, in ways unusual, somewhat amusing and mostly frivolous: “Goldie,” an on-screen fish, flops around like it’s dying when you take the phone out of the water; “Plantimal,” a modern cross between a Tomagotchi and a Grow Monster, dies if not watered; and “Rainy-oke” encourages, quite literally, singing in the rain, as proven by a drag queen performing Cyndi Lauper.”

They’re actually asking the world to reverse-engineer a feature to create something new that makes people pay attention. Fun, open, changeable, democratic, engaging. Yay.

DXM Labworks

Now, some things should be demonstrated as being fun to play with. But here’s an example of demonstrating how bad a drug is for you – by making it look like an extraordinary amount of fun. Who the hell thought this was a good idea? Probably the agency, tasked with spending the million-dollar budget. I’m sorry, but IMHO this is a shitty example of bad planning against human behaviour. Monkey see, monkey do – especially teenaged monkeys. Viz: the comments under the videos and the Google Play page.

Still: the extraordinary crowd-sourcing, peer-reviewed Erowid experiential website has been telling us what’s good and bad about drugs for years. But this video-App combo campaign attempts to demonstrate the effects without using actual humans. Questions about the efficacy of making drugs look like fun aside, it seems that 22 minutes into the future we’ll be able to show people the potential consequences of their actions without hurting a single person… ooh look, we just did.

Escape My House

From Escape My House is a virtual reality project with a very real message: a house fire could happen to you. And if you’re not ready, you might not make it out alive.

“We created an experience that was immersive and as real as possible, that put people in the heart of a house fire and challenged them to escape.

“We then paired this experience with the Escape Planner Tool, a mobile utility that helps you plan contextually — in your own home.

“It’s a project which tangibly demonstrates the importance of escape planning, and then helps you to do it yourself.”

Incredibly proud of the team who created this. Matt Barnes, Carl Sarney and co: take a bow.