Crowds of curious onlookers gathered outside the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles last December to watch someone play with a claw arcade game. Granted, it wasn’t an ordinary game. The prizes included a brand new 2012 Chevy Sonic. And the game itself? It was a five-story-high, 3D projection, so big that it earned a Guinness World Record for the world’s largest 3D projection game.
This is the kind of outdoor stunt that Pearl Media is creating and that is changing the complexion of out-of-home advertising. Eager to attract attention in a noisy outdoor marketplace, brands are looking to distinguish themselves by creating outdoor experiences that not only grab consumers’ attention, but also compel them to share these experiences via photos and videos on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social media.
Pearl Media calls itself a “non-traditional outdoor advertising company.” The 3D projection mapping system—which was used for the Chevy Sonic claw campaign—is the latest technology that it uses to get consumer attention on some of the busiest street corners in America. The company has also created experiences for brands such as Lexus, Patron, Fox Film Entertainment and THQ.
“We create customer experiences in the outdoor world that allow brands to connect and have a conversation with consumers,” says Pearl Media president and CEO Joshua Cohen, who founded the New Jersey-based company in 2007.
Pearl Media initially broke into the outdoor business with Streetscapes, transforming vacant retail stores in prime locations into interactive street-level billboards. “They literally cut through the clutter in major markets and bring billboards to the street,” says Cohen.
After investing in gesture-based technology, touch technology and photo capture, the company added interactivity to its storefronts. Most recently, Pearl Media has focused on developing and perfecting 3D building and surface mapping projection. “We can make cars, statues, buildings, whatever you want come alive in 3D,” says Cohen.
For instance, at Art Basel Miami, Pearl Media turned The Tides Hotel into a 3D art installation inspired by 1980s video games for client Hyundai. For Rémy Martin, it helped create an interactive, street-level billboard that resembled a nightclub. To be admitted, pedestrians had to knock on a virtual, 3D-projected door and interact with a digital “bouncer.” Texting the correct “password” admitted them to the exclusive party.
The idea behind these campaigns isn’t just exposure. Once consumers see something incredible—such as a giant 3D projection of a claw game—they can interact with the brand, and then share what they experienced via social media and drive traffic to retail.
“People are fascinated by technology and they want to share everything they’re doing,” says Cohen. “If we can create a memorable moment and you can load it up and show it to your friends on Facebook, it’s pretty powerful.”