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Five successful virtual experience tactics brands can harness right now

06 November 2020

We are constantly pushing the boundaries on how to generate value for brands and their customers and this approach has never been more pertinent than in today’s world. The pandemic has catapulted us all into the future, and with a second wave of lockdowns sweeping across the globe, brands are increasingly forced to innovate their approach to reach customers.

We recently held a virtual roundtable event exploring how brands can retain the excitement and engagement of a live experience, within the new constraints of the global pandemic. We are delighted to share with you an excerpt from the event, where we took one of our award-winning experiences from 2019 for Major League Baseball (MLB) and deconstructed it for today’s new world.

MLB London Yards was a 3 day festival of all things baseball, alongside MLB's first ever London Series. It reimagined the traditional fan park experience with digital and physical baseball activations, screenings of the London Series, ballpark inspired food and drink, and live music and DJs, resulting in more than 13k visitors, 550,000 engagements and 1.3 million live broadcast views across the three days.


Below are five core experience components reimagined for a virtual and post-coronavirus scenario:

1. Create a live audience vibe

Why the original version worked: It created personal, social moments that friends could enjoy and remember afterwards.

How you might reimagine it: Invite users to interact with their friends online during the game.

Social ‘watchalongs’ have become a popular engagement strategy for entertainment and sports brands this year. The technology allows remote groups of friends to comment on content, and even see each other on screen during the game. An example of this has been developed by Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party), where a Chrome browser extension allows fans to see and interact with others during a film. The activity is visualised in an active content layer on screen, and allows the audience to express their reaction to content in real-time.

2. Seek interactive brand moments

Why the original version worked: It ensured visitors could learn about the sport with fun, meaningful and shareable moments.

How you might reimagine it: Bring a physical aspect of the brand experience to life at home.

The experience could involve a ‘box’ of physical objects sent to people’s homes, containing keepsakes from participating teams such as a signed baseball, a branded t-shirt, traditional snacks and a VR headset for audiences to practice baseball swings virtually. The items, perhaps developed in collaboration with partnering brands, would add a level of personalised, multi-sensory theatre throughout the game, creating a deeper and more emotionally powerful connection to on-screen content.

3. Consider the cultural exchange

Why the original version worked: It appealed to the wider cultural passions of our audience.

How you might reimagine it: Offer an intimate and interactive musical experience.

Music from the event could be recreated in a live stream from a unique viewpoint, such as behind the DJ booth or from the artists’ homes, streamed live via YouTube or Twitch to allow viewers to react to the performance in real time. Alternatively, it could be taken to the next level through augmented reality, allowing viewers to see the musicians perform in their living rooms via an AR layer on their phones.

4. Employ the power of personality

Why the original version worked: Influencer content created interest with our target audience online as well as in person.

How you might reimagine it: Make player and influencer content more personal.

Audiences could gain access to unfiltered live commentary from players pre, during or post game pushed out via social channels such as Twitter or Instagram Live. For influencers, the approach could involve short form pieces of content from their experience of watching the game or trying a virtual baseball swing at home, providing a ‘through the keyhole’ moment for audiences, adding value by going beyond the game itself.

5. Adopt a smart use of data that is integral to the experience

Why the original version worked: Whilst data wasn’t necessarily a key component of the London Yards experience, it is quickly becoming an integral part of how audiences consume sports.

How you might reimagine it: Illustrate the athletes’ performance in real-time 3D data.

Informative player data could be created using athlete 3D tracking technology powered by artificial intelligence. The technology is currently being developed by Intel and Alibaba, and leverages advanced pose modelling techniques and other AI algorithms designed to analyse the biomechanics of an athlete’s movements.

These are just a few ideas on how to reimagine an In Real Life experience, but the possibilities are limited only by your creativity. While digital and online are never going to replace live experiences completely, it is still possible to build powerful emotional connections with an audience through virtual and real life solutions.

Consumers have never been more open to new ideas, and with an increasing requirement for online interaction, the challenge right now is how to meet the demands of the pandemic age, while still retaining the inherent magic of live experiences.

We have loads of other ideas up our sleeve, so if you’re interested in finding out more, please get in touch with your local Imagination office.