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The Projection Bandwagon

Nico Tuppen, Managing Partner and Global Client Director at iris, jumps on-board the projection mapping bandwagon and rides it from Tower Bridge to Battersea Power Station, via Barcelona.

The Projection Bandwagon

Agencies love a tech-bandwagon.

Admit it or not – you’ve all sat there and subconsciously considered how to hammer the latest bit of tech into your deodorant launch brief.

And that’s no bad thing. As marketers we’re naturally curious about shiny new tools that might help us sell a product better or visualise our idea better. The last five years in particular has provided us with a whole heap of new technologies to be experimented with.

Of course there’s a tragic flaw loads of agencies share; thinking that the latest technology will do your job for you. But presenting the bright new thing is never enough. Your campaign may contain all the bells and whistles money can buy, but if the idea bit is rubbish, a drone won’t fix it.

This was my immediate thought when asked to write a piece on projections. 

As a technology, projection can be amazing. Over the years it has become more sophisticated, beautiful, intense and vibrant. It has been done so well, that simply ‘projecting’ isn’t enough to make people take notice any more.

This year, following the World Cup final, adidas wanted to give Lionel Messi a hero’s welcome home to Barcelona. Messi represents Barcelona in more ways than just playing for its team. He personifies the city, and they love him for it. So, we knew that the city had to play a part of any idea we had – and projections were a way of us incorporating the man with its walls.  

See how Adidas Brought Leo Messi Back to Barcelona

We also knew that Messi projected onto a wall could potentially be really boring after about a minute. We wanted it to be a living, fluid, constantly moving, changing piece (much like the tactics of the player). It was also important that it could live as a piece of online content – as we were combining it with the launch of his new f50 boot.

So we fixed 20k, 10k, 7k, and 3k projectors to the back of a truck (and a car, and a bike, and a body harness) to create the impression of Messi storming through the streets of Barcelona, morphing into a panther, or even a fireball – and generated two million organic views in the first couple of hours of the film going live. 

Yes, we used a (relatively) new technology. We used a crappy old truck too. But the idea was strong. It would’ve worked with an OHP. Sort of.

Of course I’d use one of iris’ campaigns as an example of getting it right.  But others have done it quite well too…

Disney celebrated the launch of its new Disney Infinity video game with a 36 ft tall projection of the Hulk ‘raising’ Tower Bridge – along with other Marvel superheroes travelling through London to reach GAME at Hamley’s.

Watch Disney Infinity's 2.0 Marvel Super Heroes Explode onto the Scene

It looks like they had to scrimp a bit on the filming and acting bit, and projecting on landmarks isn’t new. But there’s a nice, simple idea here – the safe delivery of a Disney/Marvel game consignment - and the quality and ambition of the projection is impressive. 

Heineken also put on an impressive display, with a 3D projection mapping show on Battersea Power Station.

It’s brilliant eye-candy, nice visuals, an iconic landmark, banging beats – it worked perfectly for the event. But that’s all; there wasn’t an idea at its core to sustain interest post the event.  

Watch Heineken's Battersea Power Station Light Show

And then there is this classic… Box by Bot and Dolly. Bot and Dolly wanted to make an ‘artistic statement’ with this work – and if you’re going to projection map, you’ll do well to trump this.

A filmed live performance, it blends the digital and physical space beautifully, and deploys a variety of technologies and techniques, old and new.

Experience Bot & Dolly's Artistic Statement, 'Box'

Box, Bot & Dolly, Yellow Pencil, Digital Design – Technological Innovation, 2014

The point about all these isn’t just about the projection technology. And just because everyone’s seen this technology, doesn’t mean it should be avoided.

It comes back to knowing that, in an industry where you can do pretty much anything with technology, the thing you need to be more concerned about, is the idea, the brand and the people you are reaching – and what works for them – rather than just doing it for the sake of it.

There’s nothing wrong with occasionally jumping on the bandwagon. Just don’t forget to do your job. And nail the idea first.

If you think you have a campaign that deserves a Pencil, enter your work into the D&AD Awards and see if our judges agree. When it comes to awards, nothing matters more.

For more creative inspiration and the opportunity to get up close and personal with the world’s best design and advertising, join us at D&AD Festival.

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