Online selling
October 17, 2022

Creative direction storms into the 3D and AR era

Creative direction storms into the 3D and AR era

Creative direction professionals are taking to the limitless, magical possibilities of 3D and augmented reality (AR) like a duck to water, transforming both communication and growth for businesses

Key takeaways:

  • Why creative direction is a growth pillar for every modern business
  • How 3D and AR tech can transform the storytelling aspect of creative direction
  • Some memorable creative brand campaigns powered by 3D and AR

Creative direction is all about re-presenting a concept, product or brand in a stimulating and memorable way. The big idea behind creative direction is the leveraging of talent, techniques and tactics of creative expression to attract, engage and influence a predefined set of people – also referred to as the target audience. The goal is to make them respond in a desired way – such as by sharing their personal information for lead capture, expressing interest in a meeting or demo, or making a purchase. Whether it is launching a multi-channel advertising campaign for a new product or brand, designing the set of a movie, building the ‘look’ for a fashion line, planning the décor of a new restaurant or visualizing the cover of a book, the magic of creative direction is everywhere – indeed, it is an essential cog in the go-to-market roadmap of most businesses today.

Creative direction professionals are responsible for implementing important brand communication and market outreach programs in the current day – right from conception all the way to execution. Practitioners of the art of creative direction work hand-in-hand with heads and leads in other business functions (such as strategy, planning, product, marketing and sales) to define the overarching vision of the project, making sure it is aligned to the organization’s business goals. A creative director will then typically combine approaches and tools such as strategy, storytelling and technology to articulate that vision to the world at large – synergizing the narrative across media platforms and channels such as TV, online, social, outdoor and more. 

Creative direction straddles an extensive spectrum of day-to-day responsibilities and KRA’s: from organizing brainstorming sessions to ensuring cohesive teamwork to taking creative decisions to balancing budgets to producing business results to, well, plenty in between. At heart, creative direction remains a collaborative exercise and creative direction professionals will often combine perspectives and contributions from collateral creative disciplines – such as art, design, photography, illustration, music, special effects and the written word – to spin the right yarn. 

Creative direction: the fountainhead of business storytelling

Per cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner, the human mind is nearly 22 times more likely to remember facts when they are weaved into a story. A London School of Business research piece unearths similar findings: that adding a story to numbers and stats can amp up memory retention by 70%. And research conducted by OneSpot found that 92% of consumers want ads to feel like a story. The formidable superpowers of the modern, tech-enabled raconteur is clear through other stats and findings too. For instance, it has been seen that when people truly connect with a story, they are:

These figures suggest that in an age where businesses are struggling with the dwindling attention span of consumers, storytelling (and the masters of the craft) possesses the game changing X-factor that entrepreneurs, sales and revenue leaders are constantly looking for. Not surprisingly, commerce leaders are increasingly turning to creative direction professionals – who also happen to be the captains of the storytelling ship in their respective organizations – to deliver the visual knockout punch and steal a march over rivals. Be it at advertising agencies, marketing departments, art and design studios, in-house outfits of large organizations or the public and social sector, folks involved in creative direction hold key titles and mandates. Creative directors have evolved from simply churning out eyeball-grabbing corporate messaging to becoming builders of robust brands and engineers of profound profits for businesses – and enjoying extensive decision-making authority and leadership positions in the boardroom.

Creative directors have evolved from simply churning out eyeball-grabbing corporate messaging to becoming builders of robust brands and engineers of profound profits for businesses

With great power comes great responsibility. Those involved in creative direction realize they must constantly upgrade and update their repertoire with new weapons – not only to chisel their own storytelling nous, but also to help their brand cut through the deafening noise online (we are, after all, being hit by over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data everyday). With its ability address both with equal elan, 3D and AR tech has fallen in their lap at just the right time. 

3D and AR: the canvas for creation direction in a new era

Tell them and they may understand. Show them, however, and they will remember. The proof of the pudding has always been in the eating, and 3D and AR lets creative direction pros add the missing bite and bang to their big ideas. After all, even the most charming artwork or the most electrifying animation sequence is, at the end of the day, a series of lifeless graphics – their ability to tell a tale finite and pre-defined. Bring it all to life with a touch of 3D and AR tech, however, and the possibilities expand dramatically. Suddenly, the audience or user can do the unthinkable, such as:

  • Twirl and twist around story characters (aka brand products) in 360 degree glory to understand nuances of size and dimension. 
  • Scale to personalize them vis-à-vis their own contexts and environments and thereby judge sync and fit accurately.
  • Mix and match color, mood and texture to get an authentic sense of aesthetics. 
  • Try features and functionalities virtually for a unique 'test-drive' experience. 
  • Take purchase decisions confidently while saving countless trips to the store (and bringing down the scourge of returns for sellers).

From print to film to digital to social to the metaverse (the next frontier), the creative, design and advertising fraternity has come a long way. 3D and AR captures that evolution in a spectacularly climactic flourish, empowering creative direction professionals with the canvas and toolsets of the future – and allowing them to express themselves in an era that is both fearless and limitless. They are loving every bit of it, too. In a survey of 1,000 creative professionals in advertising and marketing, only 19% of respondents said they would not consider an AR-driven campaign in the near future. 

New ideas spread quickly in a closely connected ecosystem, and the enthusiasm of the creative direction community for 3D and AR is equally shared by disruption-agile organizations. Google, for instance, partnered with leading ad agency Ogilvy to introduce the magic of augmented reality at Google Beach (Google’s annual interactive festival) to familiarize the creative direction community with how they can create experiential brand moments for fans and consumers – interactions that linger in the consciousness.

The enthusiasm of the creative direction community for 3D and AR is equally shared by disruption-agile organizations

Trend-shaping examples of creative direction inspired by 3D and augmented reality 

Broadcast leader Sky TV promoted a new season of its popular show ‘The Walking Dead’ with 3D and augmented reality-powered ‘zombies’ who walked towards unsuspecting bystanders at a bus shelter, generating both goosebumps and a coveted Clio award.

Fast food champion Burger King (BK) famously created a 3D and augmented reality-powered app that entitled users to a free flame-grilled BK burger if they pointed their device at billboards featuring a competitors’ ad – doing which set the rival’s burger aflame onscreen. 

Cosmetics giant L'Oreal allowed beauty buffs to scan their faces on its app and trial makeup choices that best suited their physical profile, an experience engineered on 3D and augmented reality frameworks.

Auto giant Audi created 3D and augmented reality-designed digital content with a virtual holographic assistant (with Hololens technology) that allowed fans to try out the latest features of the Audi7 for a unique ‘test drive’ experience. 

Luxury retail player Browns Fashion turned to 3D and augmented reality when it created a filter that covered not just its t-shirts, sweats and accessories – but also entire surroundings and environments – with sparkling crystals every time users opened a tap to wash their hands.

With Ikea’s genre-refining app that taps into the uncanny potential of 3D and augmented reality tech, afficionados of the furniture disruptor can search and browse products in their own spaces and habitats – thus making highly informed interior and décor choices.

An ingenious campaign at Stockholm Art Week championed the spirit of creativity – while bringing the city’s art culture to every device – by building an app where users could submit their works and have them showcased on the official event website.  

Creative direction and 3D-AR: fire meets gasoline 

Product demos and visualizations carried out in 3D and AR tech stand unique in their ability to:

  • Draw an audience into the narrative immersively, thus transferring brand messages seamlessly and building deep emotional connections.
  • Elicit a unique response, offering never-before seen levels of insight into the buyers’ mind.
  • Add a surprise and WOW factor to the brand experience which doesn’t just enhance chances of social virality, but can also trigger the holy grail of purchase funnels: shortening the sales cycle considerably. 

Masters and maestros of creative direction have always had a ‘thing’ for storytelling. Now, they also have 3D and AR. The mix is a potent one, greatly amplifying their powers. From increased user engagement to more dwell time on page to higher conversion rates, the creative direction fraternity is delivering on the metrics that matter in the new era of visual commerce. And the journey has only just begun. 

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