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Making SPace for virtual experiences with real-world impact

Making SPace for virtual experiences with real-world impact

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This post is sponsored by Big 3 Media.

The world has seen a massive shift in the way we interact with each other, and with our environment, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. With physical distancing measures in place, many of us have been forced to embrace the digital world more than ever before.

This has dynamically altered what brands and organisations can offer in the “new experience economy”. This raises the question: Can we uncover new ways for people to experience media in both the digital and physical worlds?

Embracing the new experience economy

In mid-2022, Big 3 Media embarked on SPace with Singapore Polytechnic on a new virtual experience as part of Singapore Polytechnic’s open house in 2023.

The following questions were at the top of our minds: How can we garner awareness and engagement from prospective students in a different way? How do we showcase SP’s innovative DNA as the ideal institute for prospective students? How do we drive footfall to SP’s physical open house?

While the original idea was to create a choose-your-own-adventure video (such as Netflix’s Bandersnatch), the team was convinced the future-proof solution was to create a fun virtual world that could pave the way for innovation in student engagement.

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Crafting a virtual world for young digital natives from scratch while answering all these questions can seem intimidating at first. A new experience like this called for an agile mindset, and in this case, we had to think big, and work small. Nicholas Lo, Big 3 Media’s creative director, felt this process would be crucial in ensuring a higher level of quality and satisfaction.

“We held extensive workshops and discussions with both SP and its students and our process was simple, we built this unlike a marketing or media campaign, but a tech product. It had to be agile, and it had to work in sprints.”

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Let’s get phygital – from zero to one

While the metaverse still remains a somewhat nebulous concept to many, we saw it as a concept that is still evolving; not just as a singular platform or product, but more of a convergence of multiple emerging technologies that promise the next level of user interaction in both virtual and physical worlds.

This inspired us to go phygital, which was integral to framing a virtual experience that was relevant to Singapore Polytechnic’s brand narrative. Staying true to our four tenets of experiences, ecosystem, seamlessness, and engagement, we were able to channel our core passion of imaginative storytelling through world-building, character and game design, effectively.

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Getting audiences to be continually engaged in the world was just as important as building it, and this was where digital marketing came in.

Apart from crafting a series of social media engagement posts that introduced new mechanics to SPace such as gacha items and new emotes, the team designed a time-based activation event for the open house called SpaceCHASERS. This was a phygital treasure hunt that took place both in the virtual world and the physical world.

By uncovering virtual clues in SPace, users could track down DJ Splash, the robot DJ in SPace, in various physical locations around SP’s campus during its open house for actual rewards.

As William Lim, director, communications, at Singapore Polytechnic, said: “A first among all the polytechnics in Singapore, SPace presents an innovative way to engage our prospective students – who are also today’s digital natives – by creating and sharing fun-filled experiences and digestible customised content, rather than content that is generic, long-form, and static.

“Complemented by our social media efforts, the phygital campaign generated heightened awareness of the SP brand, as well as encouraged the secondary school students to actively explore our campus, visit the academic schools to learn about our courses, and experience the vibrant student life.”

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Venturing beyond a virtual brandscape

Building an experience like this is only the beginning to a world of possibilities for brands and organisations to build meaningful relationships with their target audience, and in the bigger picture, optimise their brand presence and mindshare.

For brands just starting to explore how virtual experiences can enhance their brand for the future, scalability and iteration are crucial factors to consider. We believe your virtual world and its narrative should aim to evolve incrementally, and sustainably, along with your organisational resources, strategies, and goals, without compromising on what makes the user’s experience holistic and engaging.

As our new digital narrative continues to unfold in the next few years, it will be interesting to explore, discover and learn how metaverse concepts can evolve as a powerful tool for brands in the realm of digital marketing, and beyond.

Big 3 Media offers digital marketing capabilities that include marketing strategy, campaign conceptualisation, interactive products, and services, as well as design and copywriting. The team includes in-house artists, designers, animators, and developers, providing a concoction of skills that fit the creative demands and execution of our clients.

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