Digital vs physical - are they really separate entities now at all?

16 Aug 2016

Posted by Jeremy Garner

Of all the trends in marketing, the continuing blur between the digital and physical worlds has to be one of the most intriguing. That’s because the more it evolves, the faster it will continue to cancel itself out - simply because the lines that separate the two ‘worlds’ are now so intermeshed that it’s hard to see where one ends and the other begins.

That’s how it should be. After all, it’s the experience that is important, not the campaign components or formats that make it up.

Most recently, the Cannes Lions results seemed to attest to this with one particularly vivid example (Lockheed Martin's 'Field trip to Mars') winning 19 Lions: more than any other single piece of work at Cannes this year. And across 11 categories too.

For those who haven’t seen it, it’s proof of what can be achieved when digital tech is used to generate a genuine moment of magic in the ‘physical’ world in order to make a point: to inspire the next generation of Mars astronauts. But, the noteworthy thing with this project is the fact that, for these kids, there is no difference between the digital and physical worlds. There’s a tangible sense of wonderment coming from the surprise and sense of spectacle, of course, but observe how quickly they attune to the new, immersive environment and begin absorbing the experience. The interface between the ‘digital’ and ‘physical’ worlds here seems almost completely seamless.

Another interesting example is the GIGA selfie project from Tourism Australia’s Japan site. It’s based on a clear insight that the usual physical dimensions offered by a conventional selfie cuts out so much of that remarkable Australian scenery, but it’s the way the ‘digital’ and ‘physical’ aspects play off each other that is the powerful thing here. The ultimate selfie for tourists to share their pics, taken by a distant camera 111 metres away? In its servitude to the idea, the digital side exists purely to make the real-world experience better – and enhance the propensity of the audience towards sharing their pics.

Often with digital vs physical experiences there exists a sense of tension or contrast in order to heighten the drama in some way to help capture people’s attention or spark conversation etc, but with this campaign the power is in how both the physical and digital sides coexist harmoniously. Neither side seems to be assuming superiority over the other. As a campaign, the relationship of physical vs digital seems to be so blurred as to become invisible.

Leaving only the experience itself.

Posted by Jeremy Garner

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