5 Considerations for post lockdown Experiential
Andy - June 2020
Could clever use of Design & Production hold the key to Social Distancing Solutions?
Recently WHO issued new guidelines for post-covid-19 outdoor events, which has come as a glimmer of light to an industry which feels like it is searching in the dark for how to move forwards.
The report has been greeted with positivity but, as with many of the lockdown rules we have seen issued, guidance is left open to interpretation which in turn can lead to confusion.
Conversations with clients have helped us find our way through the ideas and, as advice changes, we have been able to help our clients with adapting existing campaigns and consulting on ideas for new approaches within the #nextnormal.
Offering consultancy slots for free to our existing and new clients, started out as an intention to instigate change in the ways of working. This consultancy at the creative stage, although always our preferred way of working, is now proving to be the way forwards as clients want to talk through concepts before promising an idea that is not practically possible.
Always happy to talk through ideas and consult on production, our latest “takeaway” – 5 Considerations for Post-Lockdown Experiential is proving a popular download for those seeking next stage guidance on planning on events in this uncertain landscape.
#1 Social Distancing in Production
Space has become our greatest asset, however even in our 17,000 sq ft workshop, compliance with social distancing rules have heightened the need for attention to health & safety details.
Production procedures and processes will now, unavoidably, take longer as hygiene is prioritised in all work areas with daily cleaning of tools and shared spaces. Small teams will have to learn to operate at a slower pace to give time to recognise distancing measures around each other within new, staggered, shift patterns, one-way systems in place around the building and increased independent working.
Our approach to design has had to change. Our creative brief has expanded to include key elements unlike never before.
At concept stage, along with questions around campaign messaging, intention, and storytelling, we are now asking:
How modular can this idea be?
Can each element of the design be easily constructed by 1 person?
Can units be easily moved around the workshop once built?
Can the modular design be loaded by max. 2 persons at 2m distance?
How will the design be installed?
These questions are far easier to ask and implement into the creative brief at concept stage rather than further down the line. In other words, talk to a production expert before working ideas up with creatives.
Our top tip here is before engaging a production house, even at concept stage, ensure that their production workshop is big. The space available should be large enough to safely work in an efficient way. This will minimise costs and work to avoid rapidly increasing pricing in production. Efficient ways of working at base level will not only maximise budgets but will ensure safe working distances for employees, sub-contractors and visitors.
#2 Social Distancing during Installation
So, you have followed the advice and have an idea ready to go into production. Our advice here extends to booking of a venue, which has usually already happened by the time the brief reaches production stage.
With guidelines seemingly open to interpretation by individual local councils, organisations and companies, the following key points are useful considerations to avoid issues further down the line. Can the space:
Enable an installation team to work at min. 2m safe distances?
Offer safe & clear access & egress from the venue – is there a 1-way system in place?
Offer extended installation times & unshared space to work within for installation teams?
Guarantee access to clean hygiene facilities at all times?
Offer a consistent airflow throughout proposed installation works?
By asking to see a venue’s management plan before confirming a booking, you should be able to answer these questions whilst ensuring the venue is big enough and has the correct policies in place to enable safe working practices for their own employees, contractors and visitors.
#3 Create open spaces that allow Circulation of Air
Easing of lockdown restrictions does not guarantee a change of consumer mindset when engaging with an activation.
The industry is not assuming that just because the consumer will soon be allowed to go shopping, they will be happy to do so in an enclosed indoor shopping centre. Outdoor markets have seen a boom in retail spending and the trend predicts a return to the high street as town centres introduce widened pavements, to enable social distancing and one-way traffic systems to eliminate kerbside parking. Shopping local is on the brink of a resurgence.
The science has been clear that airflow is essential in keeping everyone safe.
This is where spatial design comes into its own, knowing how to create open spaces whenever possible and design to avoid narrow entrances/exits.
Immersive journeys do not have to be enclosed or lose their story. Careful and innovative spatial design can easily ensure a one-way, easy-flow journey for the participants and design detailing can incorporate a variety of openings for increased airflow throughout.
By consulting at concept stage on an idea with experienced spatial designers/producers, the best and safest use of space should become key to the success of a creative brief.
#4 Incorporate ease of Sanitisation into Design
Hygiene doesn’t have to be boring. The British approach to singing Happy Birthday whilst hand washing as a recommended procedure proved that.
The devil is in the design detail in the #nextnormal, where hygiene and ease of sanitisation is now essential to how we all operate in our everyday life. Sanitisation does not have to be an awkward bolt-on but can be sensitively and subtly designed into the consumer journey.
Social media has seen a response in newly designed hand sanitising stations & UV light check points. These are the visible statements that, certainly in the early days of the #nextnormal, will be in demand as consumer wariness requires reassurance in experiential campaigns.
Design can enhance sanitisation measures in the background. Incorporation of touch-free technologies such as automatic door openers, motion activated interactive elements and #hashtag photo-op social media sharing, present a range of touch-free interactivity options that will see a progression in tech and reality working together to enhance engaging experiences.
Top tip once again, is to consult with experienced experiential designers at concept stage to ensure the design and branding of hygiene points and sanitisation considerations are consistent throughout.
#5 Use of Touch-free Immersive Technologies
Alternatives to touch activated interactivity are increasing in offering.
Museum interactivity may develop from handheld video or audio guides to AR which can be downloaded onto personal phones, enabling visitors to explore and “uncover” artefacts without the need to touch, shared equipment.
Personal VR could still be possible using “giveaway” Google cardboard devices for users to use with their own phones.
Immersive journeys peppered with foot activation mats, motion sensors or pressure pads will automate the experience and negate the need for hand activated buttons or levers to tell the story.
Photo mechanics may develop away from photo booths to #Hashtag activated twitter mirrors which use consumer personal phones to capture images & print branded takeaway memories.
Consult with experienced AR & tech designers at concept stage – use of cutting edge of interactive elements can help you incorporate ideas into your creative brief.
So, can Design & Production hold the key to Social Distancing Solutions in the #nextnormal?
#Nextnormal still feels like a long road ahead but by hitting our reset button now we can review the unsustainable way we used to work. Previously the production practicalities of design were often considered near the end of the creative process, which left the solving of unnecessary and costly practical problems with little or no time to act. We may now find an efficient, collaborative and highly creative way forward in the new socially distanced world.
Adjusting the way we approach design and production, through collaboration at concept stage, can only result in a shift towards an industry that can emerge stronger in working together.
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