During my long and un-illustrious acting career in the 1990s, I had the pleasure of studying under the legendary Australian actress Bunney Brooke.
To prepare for an improvised acting piece, she would sit right up next to you, the aura of her last cigarette invading your space and speak right into your ear. Her voice soft, yet deep, and potent.
With eyes closed, she would build the character she wanted you to emerge as in incredible detail. What clothes you were wearing, what your last conversation was and with whom, what was in your fridge, what smells were in the house, what you thought about the Prime Minister.
She stripped me away to a shell and was now putting flesh onto my bones.
I remember being fascinated by this because up until that point I had adopted the more facile practice of acting that included two words, “play” and “pretend.”
Emotional depth is crucial for believability and thus audience engagement.
When I then became a conceptual creative in the advertising business, I quickly realized how my brief foray into method acting could play superbly into my craft.
To feel the pulse of our audience in a deeper, more emotional way, a technique that I have termed Method Concepting is extremely effective.
In the following example, let’s say I want my audience to take notice of a TV commercial. Channeling Ms. Brooke, I will ask my teams to close their eyes and empty their mind. Onto that blank canvas, I begin to help them build out this person in incredible detail. Where are they sitting? What kind of seat? What kind of TV do they have? What are they watching? What’s next to them? What’s on that table? What have they just eaten for lunch? What’s the last thing that made them smile? Angry? What’s that smell? The questions go on and on, and often take you on a tour of their entire home.
The beauty of this method is that everyone in that room visualizes slightly different variations of the target. This fertilizes the creative output.
Only when you’re truly, madly and deeply in the mindset of the target, can you really create something you know will get their attention. That itches their scratch. That won’t piss them off. That will seduce them into your message. That will spur them into action.
When we consider creativity around iBeacons, Method Concepting soars even higher. Because while we’re building the emotional truths inside a participant, we’re also examining their behavioral drivers at that moment. Your mindset is very different walking into Bergdorf Goodman than it is walking into a gym.
We’re not just understanding our audience on a deeper level, we’re becoming them, like an actor does, without having to emerge from the exercise and physically manifest the character. (If you’d seen me act, that’s a very good thing.)
This inspires us to create experiences in retail that are unforgettable, effective and additive to every participant, the world over, in any retail environment.
Sam Saunders, Head of Creative for Proximity insight, shown above playing the barman in the hugely popular Australian soap opera All Saints. He is a speaker at the 2015 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity where he will reveal Method Concepting to the world’s creative community.