The Invited by Studio McGuire
The Invited by Studio McGuire reimagines the classic story of Dracula with a pop-up book augmented by AR technology serving as a conduit for Dracula’s reincarnation. Set in a dark, secret location, a book and a tablet together summon one audience at a time through an unsettling 20-minute experience in which each page turn reveals a new exquisite kirigami world and a new set of broody holograms. The Invited is a 2020 phase one prototype funded by CreativeXR. Best categorised as a Short Fiction in terms of immersive formats, The Invited is to take place in locations such as shipping containers. The audience role is an active observant, operating as yourself throughout the experience.
Research suggests that VR and AR are not markedly different in terms of current sites of engagement: Both technologies are most popular in the home amongst younger audiences, and, as of 2020, both VR and AR are most commonly consumed outside of the home amongst audiences over the age of 25, a statistic that likely reflects the headset manufacturers’ current marketing approaches and the traditional video gaming audience. While the market for temporary events, installations, art galleries and museums predicated on AR technology is currently small, research also indicates that there is a small but thriving market for temporary events, installations, art galleries and museums predicated on VR technology. As such, and in order to try and broaden the audience for AR experiences, it was key for our R&D content to promote the aura of magical worlds that audiences may well associate with VR, albeit communicating the power of AR to reveal dark layers of magic hidden within our own world.
NB: The below material was produced as a research project, and did not form part of a real marketing campaign. It was informed by the Immersive Promotion Bible, funded by StoryFutures Academy, 2020.
Aim: To broaden the audience for AR-based event experiences by taking a magic-orientated approach to promotion, specifically based on miniaturisation and paper-craft that foregrounds layers of revelation.
Title of campaign: ‘Visible to Some'.
Strategy summary: We centre the promotion around the idea that Dracula was never just a story, but a warning from history about the evils the plague all our lives. The campaign sets up a mystery about what Dracula needs to bring himself back to life, with the promotional materials luring audiences in through four phases of immersion: seeing, revealing, entering and becoming. The original theme of Dracula – that we need both contemporary science and ancient knowledge together – is reimagined here as the answer to the mystery, i.e. the secret to Dracula's reincarnation rests in the marrying of a kirigami book and the digital technologies of our modern world. The ‘everyday miracle’ of the campaign is therefore rooted in making dark magic real, with its secrets hidden inside the world of kirigami, a world that is only visible via the digital lens.
Platforms: Social media (Facebook); videos; website; origami invitation letter with QR code-led video.
Central promotional image (below):
For the Awareness phase, we created social media posts for a temporary Facebook page ('DraculaImmersed'). Altogether the social media was focused on the first of our immersive phases - seeing - with content setting up the mystery of what Dracula needs in order to bring himself back to life. We adopted the logic that the Short Fiction immersive format is best characterised as akin to being immersed in a great book, hence our captions are based on the evocative language of the Dracula novel, notably quotes that hint at the campaign's central mystery.
For the Consideration phase, we built a new website for The Invited designed to continue to guide audiences through an immersive journey. The website was structured according our four immersive phases - see, reveal, enter, and become. As well as featuring a mock trailer, visitors were invited to learn about the experience by delving into the secrets of Dracula's reincarnation, with hidden text, animations, QR codes and riddles revealing parts of the Dracula myth. Below is the trailer we made for the experience, as well as some of the content created for the mock website.
For the Decision phase, we mocked up a mixed-media invitation letter, taking the form of an origami bat-like sleeve, inside which is a card featuring a QR code that opens a video, itself written as if by Dracula himself.
The video solves the campaign's central mystery, revealing that Dracula's reincarnation rests on the marrying of an old kirigami book with new digital technology. These materials focus on the final two stages of our immersive journey - entering and becoming.
SATISFACTION & LOYALTY PHASE
For the Satisfaction & Loyalty phase, we mocked up post-experience promotional content that would keep audiences feeling immersed in The Invited after the experience has ended. Applying our after-effect principles of mood, memory and merging, firstly a thank-you video bottles the mood-change of The Invited in a single image, with the experience's AR assets bleeding into our world. (NB. This image is owned by Stefan Koidl). Secondly, an AR filter rekindles the audience's memory of The Invited by allowing them to go inside its kirigami world. Finally, postcards blend the world of The Invited with Anagram's Goliath in the aim of guiding the audience of the former towards the world of the latter.