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Not the Year Ahead

Jeavon Smith, ECD and Partner at Amplify on how the continual harmonising of IRL and URL is the new sweet spot for how we creatively continue to redefine experience.

Jeavon Smith, Amplify

Creative Partner & ECD

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Whilst 2020 was fraught with challenges, from a creative perspective it actually catalysed the exploration of new territories and has, in a number of ways, expedited the evolution of aspects of experience design and immersion. The obstacles we faced called for creatives to think differently and in doing so we’ve unearthed new parts of the process that will continue to complement campaigns as we travel beyond the pandemic.

One particular creative challenge which called for a new way of thinking was the global launch of the PlayStation 5: the most anticipated product launch in a decade and a cultural moment that will redefine the next generation of gaming. Typically, the global launch moment is a celebration centred around the players. From those queuing for days in advance to IRL moments that the entire community can experience. But how do you create a launch the world can still witness as one when it can’t experience it together in person?

If the audience are the camera, what can they see, feel and how do we reimagine the stories we tell?

Jeavon Smith

What does a launch look like?

Well, it begins with a question. What does a launch look like, and crucially where does it live, if we can’t have a live audience? Through the early parts of lockdown, we saw too many examples of brands looking to simply port their IRL experience online. That was flawed for a number of reasons. The reality is we have a new canvas and can create more innovative ways to immerse and bring a story to life around the audience.

Roger Deakins, the Oscar-winning DOP, only uses a single camera at a time as he wants to “place the audience”, to shape and frame their experience. That became a fundamental pillar of how our creative thinking is shifting. If the audience are the camera, what can they see, feel and how do we reimagine the stories we tell?

For the launch we wanted to bring the global campaign, Play Has No Limits, to life. Shining a light on the product and creating a coloured thread that would light the world blue. The main show was a fully immersive anamorphic experience which created a visual illusion as the PS5 visually broke through the screen.

When we look to IRL shows they can often be limiting in the sense that we need to democratise the viewing experience for thousands of people. Whilst we can still create visually arresting shows, there are invariably limits to how far we can push perspective, depth and some of the amazing tools at our disposal to heighten immersion. For this launch the audience became the camera and much like Roger Deakins we looked to shape an entire experience around a single viewpoint in the scene.

Where does the show live?

The other key challenge which quickly became an opportunity was where and how a show lives. There are aspects of a live audience we could never replace or replicate but by not requiring a traditional venue to house a mass gathering we started to explore the new contexts within which a show can live. This took us from Piccadilly Lights to a mountain range, Times Square and on to a traditional Japanese Temple, as we reimagined the environment and context in which a show can be brought to life.

We created an experience that was essentially designed to be witnessed by no one in real life but experienced by many around the world, as 29 content shows went live in 26 regions, turning the world blue as the console went on sale. It harnessed the cultural moment of the PlayStation5 launch in a way that amplified the global campaign through a shared experience that brought the gaming community together.

So, as we look ahead to 2021 we in fact look back on what 2020 has shown us.

The pain of the last year has sown the seeds for new ways to bring creative to life.

Jeavon Smith

From IRL to URL

When we reinterpret how the audience can experience and be immersed in the narrative, it can open up a new canvas for storytelling. Where innovation and design meet to create new types of experiences that people can share.

Reimagine the physical context within which an experience can exist. How does it travel from IRL to URL and how do you transport the audience with it?

2020 positively shifted the creative focus onto the many different forms of broadcast and capture to unpack experience in new ways. The continual harmonising of IRL and URL is the new sweet spot for how we creatively continue to redefine experience.

When backed into a corner it inspires new and bold creative thinking. The pain of the last year has sown the seeds for new ways to bring creative to life. And as we look ahead, this is something we can all be positive about.

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Guest Author

Jeavon Smith, Amplify

Creative Partner & ECD,

About

As Creative Partner and Executive Creative Director at Amplify, Jeavon Smith is at the forefront of ideas-led thinking, not just within Amplify but also within the wider industry. During a ten-year career at Jack Morton, Smith launched the agency’s Seoul office before becoming VP, Creative Director and later joining Amplify in 2016. While at Amplify, Smith has trebled the agency’s creative department and capabilities. Notable highlights helmed under his stewardship include the multi award-winning Google ‘Curiosity Rooms’, Airbnb ‘Night at the Louvre’ and PlayStation 5 ‘Play Has No Limits’. Smith is also a key figure in Amplify’s on-going international expansion, ensuring the agency’s bar-setting standards are seamlessly translated to overseas markets.

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