//Livestreaming 4.0: Why video alone is not enough

multiple screens

The cancellation of major trade shows, conventions and events has prompted companies and brands to switch to a digital presentation of their newest products. Many of those brands have turned to live streaming in order to deliver the “live experience” to their audience’s homes or to editorial offices. However, an online press conference or web-based product launch should offer more than just a simple broadcast of moving images. This is particularly true for special and demanding target groups such as media, investors and also generally for B2B communications. 

The cancellation happened at very short notice. Only two days before the first press day, the organizers of the Geneva International Motor Show announced that one of the most important trade shows of the industry would not take place. As a result, many car manufacturers moved their product presentations and world premieres online. They presented their latest models via livestream.

In general, livestream formats are a good way of providing media and other stakeholders with content and information they cannot obtain in person. However, demands of modern digital PR and communications won’t be satisfied by simply showing videos and presentation slides. The quality of information, the experience of that content, and the framework for its presentation have to perfectly fit together – just like at a physical event.

Rule of thumb: A digital premiere does not necessarily have to be expensive. However, it can only be effective if you give it as much attention to detail as you do with a conventional product launch. This applies to the preparation, the content, the protagonists and the “information logistics”. Only a true multi-faceted digital experience can come close to an in-person experience – a plain broadcast of images will certainly not.

Diversity is king

A modern and powerful tool for live PR offers professional users additional and in-depth information in a wide variety of formats. And it presents this information in context, on a proprietary platform with a proprietary setup, in a multimedia manner and in top quality. In addition, there should be download and magazine areas, high-quality photos of protagonists and products, video clips, prepared quotes (or even entire transcripts) as well as detailed fact sheets. 

The diversity of the content not only provides a wide and ideal working basis, but also takes into account the native integration of the content on the stakeholders’ individual communication channels.

UX is queen

Apart from the content aspect, modern PR platforms convince by providing an intuitive and compelling user interface. The decisive factor here is a visceral experience – regardless of whether users access the platform on a desktop or with their phone or tablet.

Interactive elements are equally important. Is it possible to show individual subtitles in the livestream? Is there an additional level of information that allows users to learn more about the product and the formation process?

Further usability criteria are multiple viewing angles in the livestream, search and filter options as well as the possibility to share content to other platforms by simply clicking a button.

Best practice: Mercedes me media

A modern PR tool for live communications can be compared to a digital content hub. While visitors at a classic trade show have to take notes and photos themselves and look and ask for additional information, the content hub is a place where all these assets are provided as a package.

A prime example is “Mercedes me media” – the digital media platform that has been developed by Mercedes-Benz in close collaboration with OSK. It is currently the most powerful tool for live PR and it offers journalists and other users a comprehensive service package, from speech transcripts to a snapshot function for generating high-res images. The application includes the audience authentically into the digital live event despite spatial separation. While some manufacturers simply posted pre-produced videos online after the Geneva Motor Show was cancelled, Mercedes-Benz used the “Mercedes me media” platform to vitalize a digital live press conference with appealing video sequences, engaging interviews and, last but not least, a real product presentation.

Mercedes-Benz is using the technological possibilities of this innovative communications platform even beyond Coronavirus-impacted situations. Early December 2019, the brand presented their latest compact car model, the new GLA, in a purely digital world premiere for the first time ever. The audience watched the product launch with augmented reality, had the possibility to switch between different camera angles, take snapshots of the livestream and turn on the speech transcript. 

This first digital world premiere of the Mercedes-Benz GLA on “Mercedes me media” accurately underlines the digital transformation the brand is undergoing. It moreover showcases the vast possibilities the platform offers for modern digital PR.

//Wine, perfume, and a good time – our first Creative Talk

On December 4th, 2019, we hosted the first event of our new event series Creative Talks which deep-dives into one topic pertaining to one of our key expertise areas: Design, Communications and Events.

Our inaugural Creative Talk revolved about the transformation of retail spaces from point of sales to storytelling platforms. We invited industry leaders and opinion makers to participate and share their insights and perspectives on the topic of the day.

Our guest speakers were Nick Arauz, CEO of Caswell-Massey – the oldest personal care product brand in America that more or less used George Washington for its first “influencer” campaign – and Tyler Balliet, CEO and Founder of Rosé Mansion – one of New York’s most popular pop-up experiences that combines wine tasting with relevant stories and instagrammable moments.

Check out the highlights here:

//VIDEO: The Future of Retail

The apocalypse, robot people and brandscapes: Our Creative Director Scott Faucheux answers questions about the changing retail landscape and what he thinks the future of retail will look like.

Watch the highlight video below that includes impressions of our tour of the latest experiential stores in New York City and read the full interview here.

PS: What is continuity? 😉

//The apocalypse, robot people and brandscapes: OSK’s Creative Director Scott Faucheux on the Future of Retail

Scott Faucheux, Creative Director at OSK New York

Do you remember the last time you went a day without going online? Nowadays, everyone is perpetually connected to the internet through smaller and more personalized devices. This new way of life has also largely changed the way people consume and purchase things. Bloomberg recently reported that online stores have gained the second biggest share of the U.S. retail market, surpassing grocery stores and restaurants. With the rise of E-Commerce, many feared that physical retail stores would disappear. Yet, in an increasingly digital world, brands have the chance to make use of people’s craving for physical experiences to prevent the so-called retail apocalypse.

OSK’s Creative Director Scott Faucheux has almost two decades’ worth of retail design experience for clients such as Samsung, Urban Outfitters and Kiehls. Alum of Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture and Urban Studies, he calls himself a designer and brand thinker who creates innovative combinations of brands, people and places to turn them into compelling experiences. Over the course of his career, he gradually evolved into the world of experience design and has been refining and redefining the role of experiences in the built environment.

At the Timberland store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan.

Scott, you have been working on retail design projects for the last twenty years. Recently, an increasing number of retail stores are closing, which many attribute to the rising dominance of online shopping. Looking back, how would you say retail has changed over time and how is it adapting to the digitalization of life?

One of the biggest conversations right now is around the retail apocalypse. Why are all these brands failing? I like to think of the main factors as the four horsemen: Bad product, bad service, bad spaces and most importantly bad stories. There is an evolved sophistication that is happening and technology really has enabled it. More and more retailers are using data to understand what people are doing, which is kind of a paradox. Twenty years ago, if you said data is going to run the stores, people would freak out and say “Oh my god we’re all going to turn into robot people!” But the reality is that technology is enhancing personalization and understanding of how people shop, and also how a particular person shops. We can actually track and personalize experiences and build around an individual, which is a pretty fantastic change from just putting a commodity on a shelf and promoting it. Instead, we can build a story and create emotions around a product.

You have to reconsider what the purpose of the store is. In the past, the store has always been the transaction point and that is not true anymore.

“Experiential” has been one of the key words for a while now. How does that specifically affect retail design?

You have to reconsider what the purpose of the store is. In the past, the store has always been the transaction point and that is not true anymore. If we think about a store as a mere commodities point, it represents a very a different value than if we consider it as a communications point or as a brandscape to tell a story. Brands now are telling their stories in stores through sensory experiences that are multi-dimensional. Some incredibly rich and layered things are happening in new stores right now because the focus is not around the product anymore. Stores are taking consumers on journeys and telling them focused and curated messages that they can take on and add meaning to. People are no longer shopping for mere objects, but are finding cultural artifacts. Stores now have much more power as a story-telling platform than they do as a transactional platform.

What other societal trends are affecting consumer behaviors? How do you translate those into store design?

I think there are a couple societal shifts that have radically altered the way we think about communities in general as well as brand communities. One is the level of social sharing and the level of reach that each individual has into their network. The other is their ability to share their own ideas. It is really amazing to see brands which embrace that and invite their audiences to actually co-author an experience with them. What in the past may have been a brand just saying “Here is what we are, you take that message,” now, is a conversation around “Here is what we have to offer, what do you think?” This way, you can change opinions and create a much broader, more meaningful and relevant idea about what a brand is and what it means to a larger audience.

Are shareable experiences and moments the key to retail success?

There are definitely brands that are simply manufacturing moments that are meant for sharing, and I would say with a wide variety of success.  The authenticity with which you create an experience should be natural and not forced. You see a lot of cool pop-ups with things like Instagram walls – that is manufacturing a moment to be shared in a very specific way. Instead, you should rather create environments where people can explore and find their own moment that they share because they want to and not because the brand says “Here is the format, go share it.”

Now, retail design is only one small portion of the design work that you do. Can you apply your experience from the retail world to other areas of your work?

The approach I use for my design work is one of really looking empathetically at what the visitor journey should be:  What happens along the way? Where are the actions and where are the emotions that need to happen? All of those little cues and moments that make up a journey can be scripted not just in a retail environment but in hospitality and events as well. If we remove the words retail, event or pop-up from the discussion and completely do away with the labels that set boundaries around our work, and begin to think about it just in terms of the visitor’s journey, we can improve all experiences because we are no longer constrained by what we think needs to be. If we eliminate the automatic programing, there is a lot more opportunity to create more impactful and compelling experiences. We can actually innovate by looking at other formats and creating the right impact, the right sensory cues, the right drama.

How does the future of retail look like? And are there examples of brands that are already offering those experiences today?

I think there are three main divergent paths for what the future retail experience will look like. The easy answer is of course big technology with seamless interactions and all kinds of user-generated elements. Those immersive theaters of amazing technology are easily predictable. At the opposite end of that spectrum are brands like Urban Outfitters and Anthropology that are art-driven, completely unique and that are very tactile and sensual. You explore and discover that no two stores are alike and it is up to you to come and find what is cool and what works for you. I think it is that level of personal discovery that is really going to drive the future of retail – whether it is technology-aided or anti-tech. Those possibilities exist anywhere along that spectrum.

The third one that is also really fascinating is demonstrated by Intersect by Lexus here in New York: a brand world that is not necessarily about your product. It is about attention to detail, the appreciation of craft, and what you and your brand really stand for – all coming to life through a whole series of experiences that touch different parts of what we are interested in as people. I think those brandscapes coming to life have huge potential for the future and are something that we are going to see a lot more of.

What do you think will be the next big thing in retail?

I think the next big thing in retail is going to be human-centered design. We have to keep in mind that because the POS can be anywhere, the store itself becomes a story-telling environment and the level of service that you get along the journey is way more important – that really is becoming the transaction rather than the actual exchange of money for goods and services. Retailers who are not investing in understanding how to speak more meaningfully to customers are limiting themselves and no one is going to come to their stores because there is no value. Looking at how our understanding of a person, the data we collect around that person, and how that data creates tailored experiences is really going to be transformative in shaping the future retail experience.