OUTERACTIVE IS THE NEW INTERACTIVE

It is becoming increasingly clear that the next phase of marketing and advertising will be focused on the bridge between physical and digital experiences.

There, I said it. And I'm staking my career on that statement.

But I won't be alone to do so. Every forward-thinking marketer and creative director will be doing the same thing.

A great article in Adweek by Barbarian Group co-founder and CEO Benjamin Palmer posits that:

Integration is starting to mean something very different. It's not just about making sure there is a cohesive story across media, but about how one medium interacts with another. Does it make sense to serve up the same Web experience on a laptop and an iPhone? (Google doesn't think so.) Increasingly, we're looking at how to use digital experiences to create (and augment) physical experiences and interaction.

Ad Age is jumping on the same bandwagon. The venerable magazine has a story that presents the same theory: digital and physical experiences are converging, and from this convergence can come some great, ground-breaking work:

The best companies have harnessed the digital mindset and taken the shareable, ongoing, interactive, participatory nature of digital and created brand experiences that matter to people where they ought to — in their real, everyday lives. Take Nike Plus and Fiat Eco Drive — arguably the most compelling brand ideas of the last decade. They may have had a digital heart but they manifested themselves in meaningful ways.

And a glance at some of the big award winners so far this season seems to reflect the shift to real-world experiences. The Grand Prize winner at the One Show Interactive was a digital idea that literally played out on the streets — Nike Chalkbot from Wieden & Kennedy, a robot that imprinted messages of hope straight onto the course of the Tour de France — as part of the ongoing Nike Livestrong campaign. At the Andys, the big winner was TBWA/Chiat/Day's Replay for Gatorade, an idea that started as a live event and online content venture and spilled over into broadcast. The best companies have harnessed the digital mindset and taken the shareable, ongoing, interactive, participatory nature of digital and created brand experiences that matter to people where they ought to — in their real, everyday lives. Take Nike Plus and Fiat Eco Drive — arguably the most compelling brand ideas of the last decade. They may have had a digital heart but they manifested themselves in meaningful ways.

And a glance at some of the big award winners so far this season seems to reflect the shift to real-world experiences. The Grand Prize winner at the One Show Interactive was a digital idea that literally played out on the streets — Nike Chalkbot from Wieden & Kennedy, a robot that imprinted messages of hope straight onto the course of the Tour de France — as part of the ongoing Nike Livestrong campaign. At the Andys, the big winner was TBWA/Chiat/Day's Replay for Gatorade, an idea that started as a live event and online content venture and spilled over into broadcast.

What's particularly interesting is that the digital part of the equation is being lauded as coming into its own, as a complement to physical experiences. For me, on the other hand, the story is mirrored by the rise in physical experiences as springboards for integrated work.

I guess it doesn't matter where the idea originates — digital, physical or traditional. What does indeed matter is how these three levers are leveraged together. Quite often, the most compelling campaigns have no traditional components at all. And yet the brand still gets traction, gets new advocates, wins awards, increases sales. All without a TV spot or print ad. And that is truly the key to bridging the digital with physical. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

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