Highly attuned fashionistas watching Emily in Paris Season 3 probably had a light bulb go off when the character of Pierre Cadault—a dramatic veteran Parisian couturier—displayed his likeness on screens in his newly opened store. The technology allowed for a Star Trek-inspired beaming of the designer who spoke to and directly interacted with customers.
Those mourning the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent, Alber Elbaz, Azzedine Alaia, and Sonia Rykiel could easily imagine speaking to their beloved fashion figures again one day in the future through the digital medium. According to Ian Schatzberg, co-founder of branding agency General Idea, this technology might not be used for such a venture anytime soon. Still, retail shoppers should expect to see these immersive technology tools to deliver content and more at the point-of-sale (POS). FashionNetwork.com spoke to Schatzberg on how consumers can expect to discover screens in stores.
Schatzberg, whose clients include Prada, Swarovski, and more, said over email that his firm began projects using screen technology over the last 18 months. Most recently, Prada Group contracted the firm for an in-store experience at the Prada Reactive pop-up shop in London’s Selfridge department store and other locations such as Tokyo’s Isetan department store. The piece combined components of the Italian brand’s technical performance and nylon outerwear collection, merging it with London architecture and futuristic nature environs depicting elements and setting to a soundtrack that mimics digital and natural sounds. The content aims to relay product attributes educationally.
“Custom experiences and artwork specifically for physical environments that use screens is a rather nascent field that’s growing in need and demand,” Schatzberg said over email, noting brands traditionally have used campaign assets in retail spaces.
“Screens have become increasingly prolific within those environments; there has been a greater demand for custom content native to the architecture and the space.”
In actuality, this kind of in-store customer experience tactic is top of mind for marketers – as pressure mounts on brands to create unique storytelling moments, the capabilities of screen technology are increasingly driving these retail experiences. Early application of retail screens allowed brands to cycle through a series of still campaign images and explore video content.
Screens have been a part of advertising for some time now, especially evident in OOH or Out of Home advertisements which roll a stream of ads but are essentially just moving billboards. According to Schatzberg, they are becoming increasingly more prevalent in stores, thanks to tech advancements.
“Recently, it’s taken on because of the sophistication of the technology, pulling in new dimensions in environments. That means you can work in higher resolutions and more immersive ways on screens because the tech allows it. You see screens that are more integrated into the architecture, on a greater scale, and in more imaginative, immersive ways,” he continued.
He cites the screen itself being embedded into the retail environment and the use of phone screens, primarily through AR being used to reimagine the shopping experience as examples of a new vision for the screen at POS.
A good example would be the DressX and Printemps collaboration which brought the digital clothing company to an IRL department store setting. The pop-up included a screen where customers could ‘try on’ styles by standing in front of a screen that captured their actual physical form and then layered a digital clothing item over it, allowing them to record videos of themselves wearing one of five outfits created for the collaboration. Additionally, they could try AR digital available on the DressX platform. Purchases were able to be made through store associates. Schatzberg cited a recent Van’s campaign featuring AR that turned stores into highly creative billboards.
Schatzberg also points out a recent Swarovski screen project that General Idea came up with the concept for working alongside Swarovski creative director Giovanna Engelbert. A new brand platform, ‘Ignite Your Dreams’, dove into the Swarovski identity and packaging, exploring the possibilities of the crystal. The creative firm oversaw transforming a holiday campaign, ‘Open the Wonder’, photographed and filmed by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott, into an immersive experience by making the gift boxes appear life-size, with Bella Hadid appearing inside and interacting with the jewels. The TV-ready advertisement, shot on a green screen, used physical and CGI set elements executed by a third-party special effects firm to bring the vision together.
“The Octagonal Swarovski gift box is a representation of playfulness and preciosity, made to symbolize magic, creativity, and desire for the most wondrous gift of the season,” said Schatzberg.
“Beyond the evolution of the established brand spirit, we see the campaign as an opportunity to fully realize their strategic focus and unlock a new iconic element for the brand, using the magic of the holidays to make the Swarovski box famous.”
General Idea has also worked on creative projects with Dior, Byredo, and Lego. In some cases, General Idea can create CGI content in-house.
“It’s our studio inclination to be close to the latest tech products and tools as we are inherently interested in this dimension of creativity,” Schatzberg said, adding, “General Idea is positioned at the intersection of how tech informs aesthetic creation. The tools are becoming democratized, so what tech tools used to only exist in the big-budget film domain now exist on individual computers. Art directors previously just used photoshop, and a new generation offers new potential for creativity with new tools and possibilities.”
Schatzberg predicts the sky’s the limit when it comes to storytelling, technology, and physical spaces merging, which he feels goes beyond the shopping experience but also the experience of the city.
“While Emily in Paris talks about it, screens and environments and creating immersive feelings are not limited to luxury; they take place in all dimensions. It will only increase over time as technology becomes more accessible and less expensive. Let’s look at train stations and future-facing airports and the role of screen experiences in architectural environments. The theme of this technology in the Netflix show is relevant as it relates to how we think about the city and the future of the city,” he added.
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