Why model experiences have to hit us within the feels

People’s time is precious, and if you’re going to interrupt that, it better be worth their while. Such is the creative philosophy of Trevor Guthrie, co-founder of Giant Spoon – the ad agency that “stirs shit up”. As well as traditional ad campaigns, Giant Spoon is known for producing lavish and brilliantly immersive experiences for companies including Netflix, Paramount+ and Activision. And Guthrie is ruthlessly pragmatic about what building compelling brand experiences requires. “There’s a threshold of, ‘it’s my Saturday, I have children, would I actually want to go to this and do that?’,” he says. “If we can get the bar up to that level, we’ve won.”

Post-Covid, experiential budgets have come back with a vengeance, and according to Guthrie they have to answer to consumers with much bigger expectations – and less patience. “It’s no longer a pop-up and sampling,” he tells CR. “They’re expecting something richer – and richer in the sense of more texture, and ways that are pulling on emotions. It has to be interesting, and I think that bar is higher. It’s hard.”

Top image and above: House of the Dragon experience by Giant Spoon

Manchester design studio Love also has a thriving spatial department, which has worked on experiential projects for the likes of Guinness and Johnnie Walker. Creative director Russell Ashdown, who’s led many of these, believes people desperately want to be moved. “I think consumers are looking for something different now, and places to go that align a bit more with what they want,” he explains. “Maybe, before, they were going to spaces and places that were what the brand wanted, or what they thought [consumers] wanted.

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