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The Ultimate Brand Experience - Engagement and Interaction in Another Level of Reality

As marketers, we are constantly brainstorming ways to create the ultimate brand experience; an experience that is highly engaging, often times interactive, and extremely memorable in the minds of consumers. From experiential, live event activations to social media gaming to branded entertainment, at AMP we focus on creating this memorable brand experience for consumers. While I was reading my daily dose of AdAge, I was surprised to learn about a new, non-traditional method of reaching the millennial segment: interactive product-placement (see Ford, Sprint, Snickers Get With the Crowd for 'ControlTV'). Relinquishing control of their marketing message to consumers, brands such as Ford, Sprint, and Snickers are embracing our obsession with crowdsourcing and reality TV to allow us to have an authentic experience with the brand, before we even buy it. 'ControlTV'? is a reality TV series produced by actor Seth Green, Matthew Senrich and Richard Saperstein which chronicles six weeks in the life of aspiring stock trader, Tristan Couvares. With the help of the social media tool ' crowdsourcing ' consumers can actively participate in determining Mr. Couvares' every move. A camera follows Mr. Couvares attentively, live broadcasting his every move. In its first two weeks after release, ControlTV received more than 3 million completed views on the DBG Video Network, with interaction rates as high as 7% on some players. For comparison, previous DBG web series have acquired as many as 50-60 million views for advertisers such as Hewlett-Packard and Diet Coke. Sounding a little bit (or a lot) like The Truman Show? Yes, except for the trio of sponsors who've recognized this as an opportunity for a new type of product placement: Ford provided a 2011 Ford Fiesta for Mr. Couvares to drive, Sprint Nextel gave him an HTC EVO 4G phone, and Mars' Snickers just happens to be his occasional snack of choice. Unlike The Truman Show in which the consumer is a passive viewer, Control TV is all about an interactive collaboration between the consumer, Mr. Couvares, and his brand friends. As the AdAge article suggests, this show takes product-placement to the next level: not only is it interactive but it's seemingly transparent as if it were reality. Consumers may feel that Mr. Couvares is using the product in a very real way when in actuality, he is acting out consumers' desires and demands. This article left me thinking about what classifies a brand experience for today's consumer? Is it a lived experience or a virtual hyper-reality ' and which of the two has greater impact on your brand's performance and bottom-line?

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