Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Republishing articles: 2 The experience of crossmedia communication

Published on Europemedia in 2002 by Monique de Haas

In the midst of the internethype Pine and Gilmore’s “The experience economy” was first published (1999). It gathered large groups of fans in a short period of time. But then the
bubble snapped and distrust against any vision from that period grew. ‘The experience economy is dead’, advertising agencies told their clients (feeling awkward to get out of sync with what was going on). So they proclaimed of the experience economy “It was just a fading vogue…” But that’s why your classical advertising agency is really a dinosaur in disguise. They just don’t get it!

A lot of ‘beautiful’ ideas that didn’t deserve any second thought gathered millions from investors that didn’t get it, but wanted to be in the game.. Advertising agencies told investors that a lot of money needs to be invested in creating the online brand, … of whatever…(which actually is a brand I discovered recently).. Just put a lot of communication budget into it and let our creative interactive department make you a wonderful website, then off course we need to make a great campaign to build the brand…” Sure, you need to invest a lot at first, but then in let’s say two years tops, everybody will be on the internet just looking to get to your website, because dear client you have invested all that money in building your online brand, and that’s why you need to do so..” Well… we all know how that story ended..

Now lets get back to basics. It all starts with a relevant product or service, so that’s something a lot of investors didn’t get (yet). But as they lick their wounds and evaluate their actions, by now they must be older and wiser. Good, because you need to know the rules of the game, in order to get playing. So it actually starts with what you have to tell, your story needs to be relevant for the people if they are willing to give you any of their valuable little time. The story that is, if you are an advertiser, what is your product or service and why is it relevant to people?

Now that we have gathered our strengths for the hard times to come, we need to shift the good ideas from the bad ones and Pine and Gilmore’s “experience economy” belongs to the good ones. I would like to look at it from a crossmedia perspective. As you might probably know I am a propagandist of using stories to give information to people and more precisely I am a strong propagandist of using the structure of stories to guide cross media usage for the public.
Pine and Gilmore proclaim we are transforming from a service economy to an experience economy. We need to look upon business as performing in a theatre and I do agree. Pine and Gilmore are a typical product of their American culture and a lot of the cases they make couldn’t work that way in other environments. That’s because stories are context- limited. To me it is eminently clear, not that we are transforming to an experience economy, but that we have at all times been an experience economy, from the time of Aristotle and probably long before. We are people and we need stories to understand our worlds.

Stories are the food for meaning.

The structure of stories is embedded in our DNA’s, transcended from generation to generation. Crossmedia communication is just a new way of telling stories. Old wine in new bags for that matter. But because of the possibility of large scale interactivity with the story, it is a profound new way of telling stories. While we still tell stories, the way we do is changing in a matter that will affect the structure of stories. Then we get great new bags and maybe really refreshed wine.

With crossmedia communication and interactive scenario’s we try to establish an experience for the people using that scenario. As crossmedia communicators we are directors of experiences, where people make use of different media channels to undergo that experience and to influence the desired outcome of it. Let me make this conclusion, take away ‘The experience economy” out of the dust it is gathered in your bookshelf and read it again, because this book isn’t closed yet..