the dark side strikes back

So, as we have blogged about before, our friends in the marketing world often create experiences that inspire us here at the studio. At times these great ideas are even for museums. So this week we thought we would share three projects we found inspirational.

The first is an experience that can bring strangers together for conversation. Meet the Coffee Connector from the Economic Development Board of Singapore.




As you can see in the video, this requires two people to make cups of coffee. The interaction that leads to actually getting a cup of coffee puts users in a position to provide both a name and a subject to talk about. While it certainly affirms our studio’s belief that coffee is the center of the universe in the morning (martinis do that in evening – look for the Martini Connector next), this is a great model to potentially explore for a museum setting. It seems intriguing to create an activity where the payoff is not about the subject per se but instead is about people talking about the subject.

The second is the fun and evocative campaign for the Paris Zoological Park by Ubi Bene,







The idea of three-dimensional “artifacts” or leave-behinds is very interesting… and certainly this is an idea that could be reused for different subjects. Also, it allows for some great photo opportunities that extend the zoo’s impact.

Finally, here’s something about a subject we here in study have worked on quite a bit. Take a look at how food and cooking can be transformed in a film. Film by Blink Productions and Wieden + Kennedy London




This just goes to show that many subjects could be made more interesting and more engaging when humor and theatrics are applied in ways that don’t detract or distract from the subject. Certainly a treatment like this might be a great way to introduce people to a subject before diving into more substantial content. This film did a wonderful job setting a mood.


What creative marketing and communications examples have you seen lately? How might those ideas help us create more memorable and engaging experiences for visitors?

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scale in the city

Over the past year, we have remarked about how the use of scale, done well, can make an experience special. This week we’ve run across three very inspiring and imaginative examples of large-scale experiences. Whether marketing campaigns, art installations, or just cultural documentation, these examples captured our imagination.

The first is the submarine that surfaced in the center of Milan





Talk about an experience! This was a marketing event by M&C saatchi Milano for the insurance group europ assistanve IT. Certainly, it suggests some interesting ideas for promoting a new exhibition or large-format film in the museum world, and it got us wondering about how one might stage this to bring a short term “content” experience into a city.

Here is a possible example. Speaking of large scale film, here is what might be “the largest film camera in the world.”





You might be able to see this in your local city/town. It is traveling around the country as part of the project ”Butterflies and Buffalo” by Dennis Manarchy. The project is to document and “preserve our nation’s (United States) dynamic cultural history”

The last example shows how an abandoned building was transformed into an imaginative setting. Here is the project “from the knees of my nose to the belly of my toes.”




This house, with a sliding front, can be found in Margate and was done by Alex Chinneck, a British artist.

These projects are clear examples of how scale and the context in which the scale experience occurs can heighten the impact of the experience.

Our belief is that museums need to consider breaking down their walls to bring more of their experiences directly into the world beyond the building.

What do you think? What might you pull off in the middle of the city?

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From the Dark Side

Please take our title light heartedly. Often in the museum world, sometimes in particular between staff departments, the marketing department is seen as the dark side of the “force” compared to the supposed content and educational driven exhibitions and educational departments. In reality when operating in tandem and in harmony they both lean on, learn from and include aspects of each’s field.

In that light here are some recent innovative marketing approaches that have some unique aspects that all good exhibits/exhibitions should have.

The first is the Talking Window done for Sky Go mobile services by BBDO Germany



In this example, high-frequency transmitted sound vibrates the window and then propagates and conducts through bone to stimulate a person’s hearing.

The second is the Hearing Eye Test by DraftFCB

Here, disguised as a free public eye test, is a hearing test. As you get closer, to ostensibly test your eyesight, you should hear an annoying sound. If you don’t, then you have a hearing problem!

The final example are some Escher like advertising by DDB Tribal for Ikea




These play on the fascination we have with the impossible diagrams we are so familiar with.

While each of these has actual physical aspects that could be parlayed into actual exhibits, there are more fundamental features that make them powerful examples of playful interactivity.

They foster behaviors such as inquisitiveness, investigation, curiosity, observation, and a bit of playfulness. In addition, they result in surprise, engagement, interactivity, and, at times, contemplation, too.

These are the same characteristics that are essential to good experience development and design. So, there are lessons to be learned from these examples. Meanwhile, to our marketing compatriots in the museum field – how wonderful would it be if museum and science center marketing actually embodied and provoked the same behaviors we want to inspire in visitors through the museum experience itself? Then there would truly be no dark side.

What do you think? Please share other examples like these!

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