25 – Reconnect to the Senses through Experience Design, with Jamie Shaw.
We’ve all had conversations that feel real, and genuine.
We instinctively know when they feel disingenuous and transactional.
As a brand, your conversation with your “audience” is no different. How do we the purveyor of value have a real conversation with humans that really connects with them. Dare I say surprises them and gets them caught up in the conversation.
Think about when countless hours have passed when you’ve been talking with the perfect stranger.
This is our opportunity to design experiences that do just that.
Joined by my guest Jamie Shaw, Global Creative Director for experience, creative and brand at experiential agency Cogs & Marvel.
We discuss :
- The ability to story-tell using all the senses.
- How forming a kaleidoscope team is the only way to go.
- Jamies unusual background as a poet that informed her alternative approach.
- How the best ideas can start from a passion project and emerge to create a powerful movement (That Lady Thing).
- How truly injecting an unexpected emotion, made an HR benefits campaign the most raved about experience.
- How to tune into your gut to make decisions .
- AND there’s more.. so listen.
About Jamie Shaw
Jamie Shaw is a creative director at global brand experience agency Cogs & Marvel, a live and digital brand experience agency serving some of the world’s most innovative thinkers.
She leads creative direction, brand, and experience design. Self proclaimed language obsessive (I’m so nervous about my inevitable typos), strategic brain with creative soul, rock snob, placemaker. Past-life poet.
Cogs and Marvel, a Certified Women-Owned Business, inspires and connects people by finding better ways to create meaning through smart storytelling. Their chief value is summed up in the phrase, “Make It Better.”
Getting in touch with Jamie Shaw: Www.JamieShaw.net Www.CogsandMarvel.com
Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/hihellosura/message Support this podcast: <a href="https://anchor.fm/hihellosura/support" rel="payment">https://anchor.fm/hihellosura/support</a>
*This Transcript is Autogenerated
Hey there and welcome to the HiHelloSura show. I'm your host, Sura Al-Naimi. Today. We are joined by guest Jamie Shaw, creative director at global brand agency, cogs and Marvel, which solves some of the world's most innovative things. She gives creative direction, experience design and branding, and Jamie on this show shares how her and her team go about inspiring and connecting people through meaningful and smart stories.
Jamie has a past life as a poet copywriter. In her words, she is a brand anthropologist language obsessive in strategic brain with a creative soul rock snob. Placemaker true believer, 24 7. The last Anglo file Franco file cheese enthusiast, most exaggerator it's handled optimist and lover of.
It is with great pleasure that I welcome our guest.
Jamie, we'll welcome to the show. Thank you. It's lovely to be chatting with you again. Yes. Happy new year. So grateful to have you here. Happy new year. I'm really excited to be starting the year with this kind of insight and conversation. Me too. Absolutely.
It's such a gift. So for our listeners who are not familiar, what is called the Marvel, what is experience design?
Let's just dismantle a bit of that for for our listeners. Sure. So cogs and Marvel is a brand experience agency. What I call our practice experience design. Some people throw that term around without quite understanding the dimensionality of it.
And maybe it's different for different backgrounds, but in my experience experienced design means bringing together a multidisciplinary team of thinkers and makers who designed. Brand stories or narrative journeys that traverse different channels, different mediums different sensory activation.
So if I look back at my own background, which is advertising and branding, I was a copywriter when I began my career. And my job was telling stories usually for the page or the screen. I don't think that's changed. Now. I tell stories in physical space or virtual space activating the sensory and many other modalities of human experience.
Oh, that's so rich because I love the way that you talk about storytelling, but on all planes and for a brand or an individual to think of that in such a holistic way to be able to make that connection. Yeah. I think if we look back at the history of, branding and advertising storytelling use to mean a brand talking to the public in a one-way street fashion, telling the public what to believe about that product or that service, and often in ways that were.
Spun up by ad agencies, by copywriters and designers who are painting the picture of what that brand wants to be known as, not what they actually are. That is what advertising was traditionally. If you think about selling appliances to women in the fifties, right? It was going to make all their dreams come true with the internet and people being far more savvy about what is real and what exists in the world.
And certainly there's the unreal and what doesn't exist that comes through the internet today. But branding became far more I would say, had to become more transparent and more authentic because it's easier to discover what goes on beyond the curtain. And so branding now has become the art and science of.
I would say excavating, what is true about the brand DNA? Why the founders started the company, what the products and services are meant to do, where they can really claim, success at that goal and telling stories that allow the audience to experience the brand in a much more holistic way. So it's not just the story being told one way anymore.
It really is dependent on that exchange or that dialogue between an audience member or user and the brand itself. Brands are sophisticated these days in terms of understanding that they want their brand to be felt seen, smelled, tasted, what does that brand mean? And its value system. And it goes far beyond just the logo and identity of the brand.
It really is what it, how it behaves in the world where humans are. Yes, it's living and it's breathing and we are able to access it on all these different touch points and the way that we would, a friend or a relative or an enemy. So it's, it really is. So there's so much to consider now, when you think about what your doing today and where you were before you mentioned that you're in copywriting, is there anything that kind of gave you a clue as to where you would land or anything that's surprised you and any clues along the way?
I had no clue. Certainly when I began my career, I had no clue that experienced design is where I would land, because I don't think it was understood or articulated as such then. I've been in this in this industry for some years now. And it was probably about. Seven to 10 years ago when I found myself working at a creative studio that was really multi-disciplinary and quite unusual in that it had a robotics side, which was repurposing robotic arms that had been taken from an auto manufacturing plant and putting cameras on them to do really sophisticated one shot, one take camera moves.
And then alongside of that, the sister part of the business was storytelling and filmmaking and brand design. So those two things together invited everything from set building and traditional brand work to cutting edge creative technologies and spinning up magical visuals in ways that were.
On the cusp of what would be possible. So that experience working in that kind of environment with that many kinds of makers really opened my eyes to how I wanted to work as a creative and who I wanted to work alongside. It showed me that just being paired with a designer and thinking in that mode was super limited because in this realm, I was able to think about the screen.
I was able to work with culinary artists people in a metal shop or wood shop all manner of creation. And I've never been able to look back since then, because once you've had that sort of open space it feels limited to do anything. Yeah. So I think there's hints at how you've assembled the team that you currently have.
It's really a full it's like this kaleidoscope of people from different backgrounds, talents, perspectives. Is that right? That's correct. Cogs and marble, the company I work for now was founded 16 years ago in Dublin, Ireland. And they began as an event logistics and production company. So then they opened, they had great success with tech companies doing huge spectacle events, all around the globe.
They opened an. Six years ago in San Francisco to be close to a lot of their primary clients who are in the bay area. And really at that time with the vision of centering their offering around creative thinking. So I was hired three and a half years ago to build out a creative practice and team here that would then inform all of the other sort of capacity that, that this company had.
So I, because of the experience that I had come from, it wasn't even a question for me. It was just at this point it was native to me to seek out creative people who just seemed to be problem solvers, whatever their discipline or background. So on the team today, we have people who come from filmmaking, architecture, illustration, and motion, traditional brand, and advertising.
A really wide array of kinds of thinkers. And for that, we're able to be very agnostic in the solutions we design. It's sometimes the solution that the brand needs is a pop-up retail space. Sometimes it's an app, certainly now it's AR and VR. And we're pretty easily w we're mobile between all those spaces, very flexible this this holistic nature of problem solving is so attractive to me.
And it's, what's drawn me historically to the world of innovation in the sense that. If somebody had a headache and you're just prescribing aspirin, but really maybe they need to drink more water, and so I love that in these disciplines that we're able to actually get to the heart of what's really gonna create the difference and move things versus we, you're just going to take the aspirin.
That's, that's all we've got for you. We can see you need all these other things, but you're just gonna take the aspirin. I love the way that you've cultivated the ability to truly be able to solve for the need at hand. I think that's right. There's the aspirin sort of prescription, which is, the analogy of someone just giving you a brief and saying, this is what I want.
And just following to a T I don't know, in. 25 plus year career. If I've ever been handed a brief from a client and I thought that's exactly what you should be doing right now. I think the answer is that's never happened. And it's not that they're not on the right track or that they don't need the thing that they've asked for, but generally there's a larger story.
There's a route, if we go back to the medical analogy, there's a root cause or there's a larger health implication or there's a whole kind of wellness ecosystem that needs to be addressed. I think holistic is, the right sphere to talk about how we approach the work. And I think about that work that we do is looking more like a cobweb than a, like a timeline.
It's really listening to what the brand is saying and detecting where there are opportunities and then pulling from all these different arenas to inform how that solution might be. It just sounds like a lot of I love the word cobweb and being a detective, being curious, being open to discover.
And and you'd mentioned so, so cogs and Marvel is it started off with these events. And so there was a light element and now it's virtual and now it's AR. And so there's just this constant organic evolve evolving, according to what's needed. And I know that through COVID, it created obviously constraints, but with that push the thinking.
So what are some things that because of the constraints that we've been having how what things are you excited about that you've been able to create as a team that you might not have thought of historical. Yeah. I think all the solutions we come up with were things that we may have thought of in another context, but the way that they emerged in the pandemic felt fresh and like a new challenge specifically, because a lot of people were coming to us right up until the pandemic wanting live experiences of course.
And overnight that wasn't possible. And to me, because of the team that we had assembled, it really didn't feel, it was earth shattering for a number of reasons, the whole workforce had a paradigm shift over. But I knew that we had people around us who can make content, who can make brilliant cinematic work, who can do amazing things with motion design and renders.
Like it wasn't that unsettling because of the talent and skill around me. And I think the challenge that arose, but what made it so fun for us was okay, we know that we can engage people remotely. We have that capability. There are things like zoom out there. But if anything that we do as a creative team just feels like gathering people on a zoom call.
We have failed. We need to make things that feel as inspired, as fresh, as surprising as sensory, as immersive as they could feel in real life. And by real life, physical space together. And, so that then opened up new territory of how to be immersive. While distant which kind of course invites things like VR and AR it also, for me invited all kinds of sensory exploration.
We have five senses. You can you can activate them by putting things in people's hands. So there was a lot of designing custom kits that would evoke something very emotional through the senses, as well as often pairing something that felt a bit magical through a technology like AR yeah, so I think we frog right over where a lot of companies may have defaulted to just using video chat that felt like it wasn't even on the table, certainly there's video chats that can bring you in and out of an experience, but that doesn't feel like it takes any creative any creative box from.
Can you share a little bit more about the multisensory experience? Are there any anecdotes or stories that you're able to share? Because I know there's a lot that are not able to. Yeah. I'm certainly the primary client that we worked on. Some of that that activation with is not one I can speak of specifically, but I would say that it's a new a new and exciting space within branding.
Olfactory branding, specifically, how things smell but also, taste and sound. We worked with the brand in question about translating translating their story in the moment through sensory touch points. So what did that brand story want to smell and taste like? It becomes pretty esoteric when you think about these things, but my own background when I was in school and in graduate school, I studied poetry.
And so this has always been an exciting space for me to play in because when you're writing, when you're using poetic language, you're trying to activate the senses through words. So I'm trying to tell a story and think about what something might smell or taste like. It's a little bit of a leap, but it's also a challenge as you to use language very carefully to evoke something specific.
And then to translate that into some other synesthetic modality. Yes. You're making me think of the book perfume by Soskin. I just have never read a book that was able to evoke smell through wads. And until I'd read that book, Yeah. So we did a little for design week. A couple years ago was probably three years ago.
At this point, we did a little open house at our studio in San Francisco that was playing with that. And let's see, we called it and it was, I had read a book by someone out of Oxford. I'll have to look up his name, but the book is called gastro physics. Yeah. And just the sort of premise that sound or sight colors, things like this can affect how you taste, experience, taste, and vice versa.
So we set up a little a testing station where people could put on headphones. We had a local chocolate here make a custom chocolate to our specifications of what flavor notes would be in it. And then we took people into two different environments, one that was red and had sort of violin, really like orchestral music.
The other one that was green and had sounds of nature. And th the chocolate had both grassy notes and like spicy cayenne notes. And we wanted to test whether the other suggestion from these environments could change the way that they experienced taste. And indeed it did. It didn't change them in the way that we thought, like a hundred percent leaning, grassy note versus spicy note, but it did completely confused what otherwise might have been a clear taste response.
That I think cross modalism is a way to describe that. And it's super interesting from a creative. Yeah, super exciting. What if I think about a brand wanting to evoke a certain emotion and you all were playing to all the senses what can we provide them with, from a taste perspective, a smell perspective, an auditory perspective that really has this heightened emotion and then associate that, with the brand as the provider is a huge opportunity.
And it's happened for years in hospitality. Many hotels have a custom set that they settle, but you start to recognize that if you become a regular visitor there are retail stores like Abercrombie and Fitch. You can smell Abercrombie and Fitch from three stores away.
Certainly. Oh, is it the body shop? I A couple of those, you, you expect a cosmetic sort of, or soap store to, to have a sense associated that's not surprising, but I think we're just at the beginning of other kinds of brands, less expected brands playing with a sensory experience when you enter their physical space or some other type of.
Yes. So when we talk about things being unexpected all the way that they're going to evolve, being unexpected, there's a couple of stories that come to my mind that you, that I only have top knowledge of. And one of them is something that you've done historically, which I believe is the lady thing.
And then the other one is about when you injected a different emotion into a brief. So I just want to, whichever one you want to start with they've just both such exciting stories for me. Sure. That lady thing is a concept that evil that emerged was created. I'll have to count my years.
So that was probably four years ago on international women's day, I was working at an agency in San Francisco called 11, and the partners of the agency had said, we're coming up on international women's day. If you creatives want to think through how we might, make something honor honor the occasion get to it.
It, it was voluntary. And the women of largely women of the creative team got together to do it, which was an interesting sort of case study moment in and of itself that international women's day naturally attracted the women to come work on it. One, one fellow joined us and we didn't have a lot of time, but everyone was really.
Cognizant of trying to make something that would be noticed because if you're gonna put time and energy into something you want it to be seen. And so the first thoughts were a lot of really earnest efforts at making something that could help women in the form of an app, and would that be about educating around wage equality?
Would it be about if you'd been harassed, and we realized very quickly that this was beyond, this, that scope should be left to healthcare professionals and people who are more knowledgeable and more able to do something serious like that then than we would have been equipped for.
And someone made the offhanded comment in our brainstorming about. It would be impossible to get noticed at that time because everyone was just in their Instagram feeds, looking at, things like the ice cream museum or the color factory, it was just like, there were all of these sort of set design spaces that you could go to specifically to be to selfie yourself in an Instagramable environment.
So once that was stated, I think it unlocked for all of us. We need to make something like that is super graphic and colorful and almost cartoonish. And it's hyper real hyper rich design. But then can we embed that with serious messaging, even subversive messaging about things like wage inequality, and by the way, this was just prior to me to exploding.
This was just prior to Harvey Weinstein. Like obviously that was in the air. And obviously women were feeling something which then just be corrupted. But I would say this was like two months, two months shy of me to being. A phrase on everybody's mind and in their mouth.
So we built an activation that was meant to be for one night, we made it a bit of a sort of mysterious invitation. We invited 400 women in the bay area to come to the agency. We just gave an address. We didn't say where it was. We brought them in through a back door so that it wouldn't appear to be an ad agency.
And then we constructed a series of sets that they could be shot, photographed in and put on Instagram to create a bit of a viral moment. And what we wanted it to feel like was a real physical location that had opened, like a speakeasy. We weren't going to reveal where it was just to generate interest and create buzz around it.
As the people came through the door they were able to see there was what was meant to be photographed and what wasn't, which was the agency. We framed up every shot. So it didn't reveal the backstory. It was like, we weren't going to bring down that fourth wall. 400 women's.
Releasing photos of themselves that night in these really fun female centric exhibits that when you saw the names of them or read what they were writing about them, you realize that there was something there was tension in this reveal. And by the next morning we had been called by global brands.
We had outreach from brands like benefit and Luna bar local press and blogs had reached out. It, it hits such a note and the feedback I got immediately was you have figured out how to address these issues that are really serious, that we all want to be talking about, but you've done it in a way that isn't doesn't feel like protest in the streets.
It doesn't feel ever political, even though it is Politico. It is it is inviting because it's colorful and well-designed, but the facts are there and the information is there and it just feels like it has struck this chord. It has found the center place through its tensions, which was just so exciting because that was why it was successful is that it had used, it showed the power of visual design to bring people towards information that isn't necessarily that can be serious or not necessarily magnetic.
So then with that I worked with the partners of the agency to construct it in a more real fashion we built. We spend the next few months building a pop-up activation that was open to the public in San Francisco for five days that year many thousands of people came through it. It was covered with.
Forbes, the BBC art net, all kinds of pubs. And then it went on to have a second run. When I came to cogs and marble, we did a second year sort of iteration of it and created more exhibits. I made it more immersive. And then I was contacted by the Tropin museum in Amsterdam, because they were doing an exhibit called what agenda full world.
And they wanted to leverage, not leverage. They wanted to interpret one of the exhibits in that conversation, in a more like gender open gender conversation. So I guess the point is that this little passion project that was meant to happen for one night as a one agency's answer to.
The question of what international women's day means. This thing became a multi-year activation in the public space. They went to an art museum, it got global coverage. And as compared to something that a large brand would have spent a ton of money on and and had strategists and everything, this thing had more earned media wins than probably anything I've ever worked on that was heavily funded and like brand driven.
It just goes to show that when the idea is the right idea, when the passion is behind it when it strikes that cultural, when you catch the cultural zeitgeist and you're in the conversation of the moment that's when things really sore. And that's what I guess that's what I try to bring to the brand conversation.
When we're talking to clients, it has to have that cultural relevance. It has to be in the moment where people's minds are. It can't just live in a bubble. The. And if you had to describe the exhibit for those that haven't seen it, what's a snapshot of it. Cause I think I've seen it's almost like a bullpen that it wasn't, it was everything was very tongue in cheek and at that point, every pop-up museum, every Instagram museum had a head of all of it.
Seeing them all over Instagram and it was like why it's so weird and infantilizing, and it's just a cool visual. And I I look back at why these things really too cold for those of us who work in, immersive experiences and design, these kinds of things become part of our everyday.
But if you don't work in that field, being able to take a selfie. In an environment that is really colorful and graphic and feels like a movie set is super exciting, it's, it brings something that feels glamorous and extra real, or hyper real or fantastical. And so I get why those things caught fire, especially with a younger audience, but ball pit was like the, 1 0 1 Instagram museum everywhere had a ball pit.
And we talked about that and it was if our lady museum had a ball pit, what would be in it and all of those conversations, but We decided to fill it with little Silicon breasts and call it the sea of objectification, because it was like if we create this image, which is something that people can put their whole body into, and it's a sea of breasts, it's typically an image like that would be created to mock women or for male pleasure, what did this image mean? And th the way to make the commentary was to counter the image with the name, the sea of objective objectification. So this idea that you're just swimming in object objectification, which I can't pronounce today that every interaction for a lot of women in the workplace in the world, their whole lives has been to be objectified and to be seen as an object in that manner.
So that exists. Really more than all the others just caught fire because the visual was impactful, but what it suggested and the lines, whenever we would pop up the lines of women wanting to get in it and the comments they were writing about it just revealing, and then as I say, meet you broke right after that.
And it, it was just this companion piece. Yeah. Yeah. I'm fantastic. So just one of, and really inspiring for individuals to I don't know, it inspires me to pay attention to the whispers, like it's like those little whispers of oh, shall I do this social? I develop this project in this way.
If it doesn't seem core at the time, antithesis really make space for those whispers because who knows what will evolve out of that? Like for example, this project that's just, had such a ricochet effect an impact I think listening to the whispers is always important.
We have to trust our own intuition and again it's not limited to women, but imposter syndrome is real. And I think as we were developing the concepts there were, there were males in my midst who were I don't get it like this pop-up museum. What you're doing is derivative.
There's other pop-up museums, there's ice cream factory. And I was like, what's new and fresh about this. Isn't you know, we are borrowing. From that trope. And we are injecting a conversation that is very serious, and that is the new idea. And it was like, it was lost on a lot of people who have the privilege of not having to endure those things or think about those things.
It's, the whispers in my own head were just is this derivative? Is this a stupid idea? Should we not do this? And it was like, Nope, we were onto something. I love that you bring this up. So how, in those moments, do you personally incubate and protect an idea? Because especially when it's so young is there something that you rely on to, to help it when it's so vulnerable?
Now after the many years I've been in this industry, now I rely on my voice and my my experience in my gut intuition for the first many years of my career I had total imposter syndrome. I didn't trust my own instinct at all. Also because I had come out of a specific kind of writing, which was poetry, and most of my peers had come out of, ad school and had learned how to write ad copy in a very specific way that I didn't know anything about.
And I felt super inferior and deficient. It's only through many years of working largely because I worked freelance a lot. And since I was freelance more than in-house, I worked with all kinds of different clients, both agency side and brand side, I worked with a lot of C-level people. And through the course of my years, I started realizing that when I just spoke what I felt to be evidential true.
Based on my gut, it tended to get a good response from the clients and attended to, work in whatever way creative needs to work. The more I trusted myself and didn't fall into some formula or some sense of what the dumb thing would be, the better the response was for me.
So it just takes years for anybody creative to get to a place of trusting themselves. And it never ends. We, with every new challenge, we all have imposter syndrome. I feel wherever we come from, unless we're just total narcissist, but I don't know, I guess just really trying to hear your own voice and trust it.
And document for yourself when you've had those wins, like it was okay that I did that or that, that was well received. I wasn't. Yes. I feel that really resonates. I feel like the times where I feel most like myself, that's exactly the right place for me to be, so if this is an expression of me being me, then I'm generally on track.
And the times where it really hasn't worked out is when I was trying to play Twista with whatever project I was doing or whatever endeavor. Like I was like, oh, look, maybe if I do this and this thing's gonna work out. And it, but out of level, it didn't feel like. Yeah. I think also the fear of not knowing things.
When I was early in my career, there were all kinds of, always in the business world, there all kinds of acronyms and business and market speak that when you come into it, you don't know. And I was terrified to ask cause I felt like I should know. And then as I got older and had more responsibility, I had to ask and then I would realize half the time that the answer I got, I was just this is some made up speak.
Like why would I have known that? And I got way less bashful about calling things out that seemed to be murky. Yeah. So I think learning to ask questions and not be, that was a side of my own maturity, I think is when I felt comfortable in a briefing meeting, saying, what is that? Because it wasn't necessarily my fault that I didn't know what it was.
And a lot of times it was something that was a construct that was, Yeah, absolutely. And that, that, that brings to my mind also just the power of having naivety to be able to create something genuinely new, versus making a bunch of assumptions or bringing all of that experience to, to a brief, whereas it feels, for example, if I'm talking to a client to be able to ask those questions that maybe somebody else wouldn't ask because I genuinely don't know.
And so that could open up so much in terms of possibility. Yeah. And when you're being briefed, it's like focus group of one, right? You're one, one person in an audience that's going to hear or see whatever this brand is trying to make. And they drink their own Kool-Aid, they're close to their products and services.
They talk about it in the way they talk about it. They believe what they believe and is the first sort of outside sounding board. If what they're saying feels jargon-y or hard to translate or opaque in some way. I realized as I got older asking those questions, isn't only okay.
It's fundamental to making something that can be conversational and understood and embraced by laypeople. Yes. So I'm talking about things to be understood by lay people. One of the projects with Adobe with about rallying, just being able to provide the benefits to the people that is, that we're allowed to talk about.
So how did that come about? And cause that's just, that feels like such an exciting project from the app. Yeah, we do a lot of work with Adobe which is thrilling for us because you're on your Adobe is named one of, if not the best workplace for the workforce. And so because of that they have a really open creative culture.
Obviously they're a tech company, but they make products that enable inspiration and create creation. So they invest a lot of time and resource and care and thought in every audience interaction for their employees. So it's always very rewarding to work at that level of care. And in the particular project that you bring up, which we've done a few years running now Specifically during the pandemic, they were concerned about educating the workforce around the benefits and Berks, which are many and plentiful at a place like Adobe.
And they want people to know what's accessible and available to them. And if you think about during the pandemic things like mental health and wellbeing, if you work for a company that has great offerings in that space, you really want them to understand the support network that they have. However trying to entice people around, something that looks like an HR meeting is when they're busy and burned out and have screen fatigue is a big challenge.
In the before times, they would have gathered people together on their campuses and had big festivals and entertainment and all kinds of. Ways to make this compelling sort of moment to share this information, but without that ability, we had to do it remotely. The first year we built, what I would say was a hybrid activation inspired by late night chat shows shows and like music, personality driven shows like a variety show.
So taking cues from popular entertainment we built a script and a live set and we use green screens to model all these cues from other kinds of entertainment and Talk based platforms to make something that people could tune into. And it just followed the cues. Like having someone walk onto music, having an in-house DJ, having someone who's an interviewer and someone who's more a.
Sidekick or a comedic foil, I'm having interactions with kind of game, spinning wheel prizes. Like we just tried to draw from all of these different places. We hired a comedian as the primary spokesperson that we scripted. So it just borrowed from popular culture far more than anything that felt like HR or workplace or benefits.
And then within that much like that lady thing, we embedded the important material into this sort of wrapper. But we took it soup to nuts through all of the ways that a TV show in that manner would behave. And I think that's the difference between the way we develop the experiential journey is that you can do it in a really gimmicky surface way, which is to say we'll call it a game show and we'll make a sign that says game show, and then we'll just have a bunch of HR people talk about HR.
That's not really doing the work. So rather than that, a TV quality program complete with a set that we designed and built. We shot it at that level of quality. We hired professional talent. We scripted the whole thing. We use green screen to have people appear to be in spaces that they weren't.
We did all of that and the content that needed to be there was embedded. But the all of those things had to be as built out and as thought through, as the content itself, in order to reach the audience, have the audience want to watch. And that's what happens is that in time you can see the audience feedback and it's just total shock and surprise that this level of production is what is packaging, their benefits information just like humor and delight and kudos to the HR department.
And that's what we like to see. There's the metrics of engagement and how many people show up, which were well beyond the goal. But for me, the satisfaction is always that qualitative live response from people saying this is unbelievable. We can't believe that you've gone to this.
So that's that's where we get our verification, the way that you were describing it. I feel like it's an event I would just want to attend period and these are the HR benefits, so that's a huge, that's a huge deal. And you bring up this notion of borrowing from other industries of okay, if we want, for example, if we were injecting the emotion of entertainment, what is it that, where do people go to be entertained and then bringing it at that level with, within that this new realm.
And I think that's really the opportunity for a lot of people to create that sense of surprise and connection that you're talking about in seemingly new places, whether it's I feel like this is probably a thread that permeates in all of your projects. Yeah. It's just, it's an easy tool to to access and I just don't know.
If branch managers think in that manner, but for me, it's okay, if we're trying to, if we're trying to talk about wellness I want to think about where, humans go for wellness and it's it's a spa or a gym. So what are those cues? What things, what do those places look and feel and smell like?
What happens there? How does that journey look, let's bring that into this story that we're telling, if you're another example, because we think a lot about the future of work and how the workplace has changed and continues to shift. The fact that we're all remote. And the realization that to go to a campus or an office has to have different reasons.
To go there, to be in the screen heads down, just doesn't make sense for most people, they can be as productive or more productive at home. So if we're going to compel people to go there, it needs to have things that enhance collaboration and connection and people do those things in social spaces or hospitality spaces.
So we're going to need to remake the workplace with hospitality front and center. And we think about things like a concierge or 24, 7 room service. And you can go to places that people will mock oh we're going to give 24, 7 room service to people when they're in the office.
And it's that's not the answer, but something that borrows from that is the answer. And our job as far as I'm concerned is figuring out how to translate cues from other spheres into. The terrain that is being shaped today, whatever that industry might be. And that's, to me, that's just like the most basic fundamental thing I've experienced design is borrowing cues from the places that are already successfully doing the thing you're trying to do.
Yeah. So when you're thinking about doing this and a lot of this feels new especially for the clients. So how do you how do you bring the client along when a lot of the time, we were chatting before you mentioned that, technology isn't always reliable, for example. So how do you navigate that journey?
First we first we talked to them about why they're doing what they're doing. As I say, often times clients arrive with a brief and they feel that it's fully baked and then once you start interrogating it and and asking why it, it opens. Conversation with possibilities in different avenues, then we go away and w we have concept in time and we come back with what I would call provocations, which is what if, what if this happened or why that and we try in that moment to show a vision of what could be and that often strays well beyond what they came in our door thinking about.
And then from there, and generally that's where the excitement happens. Generally. It's it opens new thinking around what is possible and the larger story, the larger narrative that, that brand can begin to shape in that moment. It also cements us as a strategic partner because we do try to pull it back up to what that larger brand story is.
And then I would say in this moment, in the pandemic, when we're all remote, it very quickly turns to a pragmatic conversation about. We want to head in this direction. This would be very immersive. This would be very satisfying in these ways. However because we're reliant on either technologies that are not fully in our control.
If you do a web based app or web based, they are something we need to be very clear about where the the risks are. So there's that piece. And then there's all the new emerging technologies. So AR VR any sort of mixed reality, a lot of it is still nascent. And a lot of the ways it's being used for a more general audience are yet if not untested unrefined, like there's very high fidelity environments for gaming and things like that.
But most of the work we do, isn't specifically for the gamers in game land. It's, it's for a wider audience, a mass audience. So we try to be clear upfront about where the opportunity is. And then we try to really bring the client along the journey. Signing on to being experimental, being innovative, trying something new.
We refer to a lot of what we'll put in front of them as a prototype or a pilot, knowing that it may not work the way that we want it to work, but it's a test. And then it will inform the next thing that they do with, or without us. And some clients really embrace that and receive it because that's their culture.
Anyway, otherwise others are terrified. But it helps us be transparent on the front end about how we work and where we think we can push, but they have to be willing to understand that when you push and when you innovate there's experimentalism on the table. If you want just something totally safe and rote, we can do that, but it's probably going to look more like a Zuni.
We'll let a zoom meeting. So when you think about the things that you're viewing and the landscape, things that are exciting, you, things that are maybe inspiring you right now what's really catching your attention or what is it that you would love to play with this year in terms of experiences?
We are being asked everyone met versus the, the word on everyone's lips and we are being asked to help brands dip their toe into that space. I think this that's where that pragmatic conversation comes in early, which is let's really define what that means to you.
Let's define what your appetite is for experimentation. Let's define the realities or the constraints of things like not everybody having a headset or not every age group being comfortable. Accessing an AR activation or something. So all of these things are interesting territory, but it's more important to me rather than just using new technology, because it's there, it's more important to me that things feel good to the user and that they are successful in achieving what needs to be achieved.
And if that means pulling back a little bit on where we might otherwise aggressively go integrative technologies, I'd rather err on the side of safety for a lot of our clients, because some of them aren't as aggressive in terms of wanting to be right out on the bleeding edge. But what excites me personally, I guess when I feel that creative technologies are used in a way that's totally invisible and seamless and it just feels magical.
That's the sweet spot is when you can use the latest opportunities to make something that doesn't feel like you're at CES and it's just tech Wonderland, but it feels more like something Just magical. I'd love to close with just, finding out what you're currently consuming.
Cause it might inspire other individuals. What books are you currently reading or what podcasts or where are you what's catching your attention as like the next place that you'd like to visit, just to inspire people in UAS? I'm reading a book about truffle hunting that activates the senses on every page.
As you were speaking about earlier books that can actually capture what something smells like. I will check the title of it because it's escaping me right now fiction or a how to no, he's a he's a food writer who has written books about the apple and the oyster.
And this is now about truffles and really it's as much about the sensory pleasures of truffles as the marketplace for truffles. And it's really uncovering a lot of the the it's letting down the curtain on a lot of the mystique and exposing how a lot of what is sold as truffle product is a synthetic recreation of that scent.
And people know about truffle salt and trouble oils, but many of those things have zero truffle essence in them. And even other mushrooms are being synthetically infused with something that is not, there's nothing truffling about them. So it's both that. And I think his point is to just to make it more transparent, but also to make truffles more widely accessible by people understanding what they are and where they can be found, because it's not only France or Italy as many have thought and been marketed to.
But it also has all of the sensory pleasures. Of an edible experience like that. So that's what I'm reading at the moment. What else? Where do I want to go? I always want to go to France. It's my favorite place, but I don't know that's opening up any new inspiration for anyone.
That's a widely shared opinion. You just done, you been there for your birthday, is that right? To Paris? I did in September. Yeah. And it was it was planned before Delta emerged. And so then there was some question as to whether that would happen or not, but we were able to do it in a safe way and I will never be sorry for it.
And then what are you listening to at the moment, whether it be music or podcast, what's inspiring you in getting your your thoughts turning to be able to even create those cobwebs to begin with. What am I listening to? If I'm honest, I'm not really listening too much because I'm on screen like this all day.
And when I'm not on the screen, I want to, I guess I'll say I'm listening to nature sounds because being outside is so much more essential to me now with the way that we're working. It being outside first thing in the morning, walking the dog, or going on a hike in the afternoon or the evening is the the thing that gives me more creative rejuvenation or fresh kind of template to start from.
I would say that prior to the pandemic, I would have been a much more avid consumer of new music and shows and stuff to feed just, feed my creative brain, but there's so much sense stimulus coming this way now that it's actually the absence of things that lets my brain feel in discovery mode.
Brilliant. Thank you. Thank you, Jamie. Thank you for taking the time today. So grateful. Yeah. So great to chat with you about this stuff. I love it.
Okay. Let's know. Thank you for tuning in to the show as always super, super grateful. If you'd like to get ahold of Jamie pop over to Jamie shore.net or cogs and Marvel, or reach out through LinkedIn, you'll be able to see the incredible work that Jamie and her team have been pioneering and all of those.
And for myself, share with me any connections that you've been making from these shows, what it's inspired you to do to action, to be those are always very inspiring for myself and for others. And if you're enjoying the show, please subscribe your subscription means a lot to keeping the show going, take care, enjoy, be 📍 inspired until next time I'm Sura Al-Naimi