Our Creative Director, Matt Rowland, visited the Samsung Galaxy Studio in Westfield London and it’s safe to say he was blown away. Read on for his first-hand experience.
The brief for any good activation is to find simple ways to entertain customers whilst creating a memorable moment with your product. Careful analysis is conducted to find ways to dramatise and interpret the functionality of the product and the benefits it represents. It’s very seldom branding creates an emotional interpretation of the functions of a product and it was this exact sensation that I experienced at the Samsung Galaxy Studio.
What engaged me first was the sheer scale of it, two massive floors of prominent Westfield real estate that no doubt come at a cost. The entrance, flanked by floor to ceiling digital screens that played energetic animations spliced with S10 footage, created a visually arresting vista for passing shoppers. Your journey begins as soon as you enter, with a greeter explaining the lay of the land, what is expected of you – and more importantly – what you can expect. You fill in some basic details at a wall of live S10 devices, take a selfie on your loaned handset and are escorted up the escalators to the second floor.
Here you are met with three sensory pods, that bring the different functions of the S10 device to life and are opened by using your handset as a key. Each pod is manned by a knowledgeable Samsung host who highlights the feature of the device being utilised, how to best capture it and what to expect. But despite this instruction, no viewer could be prepared for what you experience once inside them!
The first felt like I was in a kaleidoscope – multiple panels reflected my fractured image in 360 degrees. Going from low light conditions to bright white, demonstrating the depth of field of the selfie mode and bokeh effect.
I was dreading the next pod – an experience based on your heartbeat. Cautiously and as calmly as possible I meandered up to the host who showed how the device could read my heart rate and how this would be re-imagined into a life force experience. Hoping my heart rate didn’t set off the sprinklers I stepped inside and, once again, found myself facing a mirrored wall that gave the impression of infinite space. I swiped my S10 on the panel which transferred my heart rate data and pink circles emanated from under my feet.
It was like I was a pebble in a translucent pond and as the ripples moved further away from me, they activated a field of fibre-optic ‘grass’. This I found to be a truly emotional experience, very much like being on the set of the movie Avatar!
It was time to take a break from the pods, so I moved on to view a photographic studio created by local London artist, Lakwena Maciver. A moving graphics world designed to demonstrate the S10’s ability to capture moving objects; both stills and video appear to have clear pixel clarity and immense attention to colour. This stage, whilst effective in demonstrating the device function, felt removed from the pods in terms of its level of execution.
Then back to my final pod: voice activation. Now, I still don’t understand exactly how this exhibited any part of the device – but never-the-less the outcome was impressive. Standing in a dark room, your voice creates light fluctuating artwork through LED tiles and bulbs all around you, matching your pitch and flooding with colour as your voice gets louder.
I descended the stairs feeling as if I’d stepped out of the weirdest combination of a techno dance floor and spa, into a lounge-bar setting where I was offered a beverage. I needed one! Another host answered my multitude of questions about the device, showing me additional features that I might be interested in. Then the images, but unfortunately not the videos, I’d captured during the experience was downloaded and transferred to my (now rather dated looking) smartphone.
Although my tour of the Samsung Galaxy Studio lasted 45 minutes – a long time to ask of the average customer – the investment in creating sensations and experiences as well as the premium, polished finishes on the activations, made it worth it. The brand placed its focus on showing you how cool their products are and how passionate they are about pushing boundaries, instead of forcing visitors to ‘buy’.
Two storeys of open space were made to feel more intimate and there was a clear flow for the audience to follow. But the real success was creating an interaction with the S10 device at every stage of the activity, putting it to the test with some truly ‘out of body’ visual stimulation. Yes, the link between the device functions and the visual experiences might have been weak or forced at times, but you forgive them because of the feelings each evoked. Fun, pure and simple.
The question of budget, however, is a tricky one. It does go to show how staggering an activation can be when the right level of investment in time, space and product understanding come together harmoniously. But as stated earlier, this was never about selling devices – this was about bringing Samsung and wider Android fanatics closer to their brand and entertaining them.
When I consider my next smartphone – would I consider swapping my tried and tested? You bet. And, if the measure of success for the Galaxy Studio London was to blow minds… it delivered.
Photo credit: Samsung Galaxy Studio
Written by Matt Rowland
June 18, 2019