Think Physical

October 26th 2022 By Adam Riglar 2 minute read

I think it’s fair to say that the digital world has become firmly entrenched in our daily routine – some might even say social media is part of their Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs! 

Whether personal or professional, we’re all encountering a lot more digital messaging. Social channels, e-mailers, vlogs, app push notifications – this has provided a growing landscape for companies and individuals to expand their digital marketing activities and find new ways to become present in our everyday lives. 

From personal experience, my timelines are full of adverts and brands telling me what they are up too (sometimes before its even left my brain…spooky), but a study conducted in January 2021 found that the pace of growth in this space has been around 10% every year and this number is likely to increase to 18.7% between 2021 and 2022. 

So, consumption of digital adverts and digital corporate messages are becoming very much a part of our social existence. This makes we wonder, how much of these digital messages are creating meaningful engagements and memorable brand awareness? How do I stand out?

Cutting through the digital noise is clearly a challenge (but it’s one we’re adept at delivering!), and it sees many brands turning to the physical world to amplify their online impact.

Physical, ‘real world’ PR campaigns and stunts have provided us with some very memorable water-cooler moments over the year. Here are a couple in particular that caught my attention in recent memory:

In February 2022, the LEGO foundation donated 600 LEGO MRI scanner sets to hospitals around the world. The idea was to support the work of the health care professionals caring for children that were scared of going in for MRI scans. This introduced the idea of play and creating a comfortable space for role-playing and understanding what they will experience and to open a dialogue about their fears. 

It’s not every day when you are out sight-seeing in central London, dodgy black cabs, and red buses, that you also have to stop at the roadside for a flatbed truck with an injured Tyrannosaurus Rex on the back. Well, that was how National Geographic earns itself a dinosaur-amount of press coverage back in 2015 – and it’s one that’s stayed in my mind.

In 2019, McDonald’s flipped its iconic M-shaped golden arches logo at its restaurants to a W, to show its support for International Women’s Day. It prompted a dialogue around gender-based workplace biases and provided a hook for McDonald’s to share its stance on gender equality – all while catching the attention of physical customers visiting the restaurant.

And most recently, October 2022 saw box office success for horror movie Smile. To promote the film and help to bring people away from their home streaming services and to cinemas, Paramount sent actors into the crowds and audiences of large live events (such as Major league baseball) to stand behind the cameras with very disturbing smiles on their faces, whilst wearing distinctive t-shirts. Reports of sightings and questions about who the heck these people were soon went viral, trending on social channels and inspiring a spate of TikToks.

In the ever-growing digital age of marketing and communications, as we innovate and embrace technology and the digital sphere in many aspects of our lives, there’s a growing role and importance for brands to think physical in their approach. This then, of course, can be amplified digitally – but making people stand up and take notice in the flesh shouldn’t be overlooked.

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