2012: The Live Year

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August 31, 2012 by hattersleysmith

Despite being, according to today’s Times, the wettest summer in a century, it seems to me that the past few months of 2012 have managed to unglue the population from their sofas and stir them to action in record numbers.  With the economic recession forcing people to look inward to their friends and families for stability, experiences to unite and inspire become increasingly important and memorable.  Observing the public fervour surrounding the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics rousing such national spirit and pride, the great success of another Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the intensely happy feeling of togetherness and celebration at my 21st birthday I noted the immense power of live, experiential engagement with people at a global, national and personal level.

My 21st birthday party with Weller and Bartle

A street party celebrating the Diamond Jubilee

A swarm of boats supporting the Queen on the Thames

The sensual assult of the Olympic opening ceremony

Beyond the engagement with on-screen on-page entertainment, social media and advertising, the live event (TLE) builds a lasting impression for each individual through layers of sensual and mental experiences and sensations.  I will always associate the Diamond Jubilee with the taste of mummy-baked oat and raisin flapjacks; the Olympics with the smiles on the twirling young cheerleaders’ faces as they proudly shook their pompoms between volley ball games and the Brits’ penchant for supporting the underdog whilst cheering on Egypt against China in the fencing; my 21st with all the people I love lifting me up while big happy tears rolled my mascara down my cheeks.  Ma’amite; Coca-cola; Pimms.

People love live and the statistics make it clear…

  • 1.2 million people lined the banks of the Thames to watch the royal flotilla
  • 9,500 street parties were thrown throughout England
  • Thousands of people lined the streets to cheer on the Olympic torch relay come rain or shine
  • Approximately 6 million people actually watched the Olympic Games live
  • About 2 million audience members at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Although even greater numbers accessed these events on TV (e.g. 14.7 million people watched the BBC coverage of the live Jubilee concert and millions more across the globe watched the Games), the experience of actually being in the thick of it fundamentally alters the way one thinks and reacts, affecting each individual in an individual way.  And 2012 has not only encouraged live engagement with national identity, global sponsors and sporting prowess, it has forced the nation to reengage with each other, to come face to face with people, to spend time with family and friends and interact with the present moment and to regain some of the stability lost by the financial crisis through communication and personal relationships.

It is this personal stability that brands need to emulate and this fervour that brands need to inspire to really alter the way individuals experience a brand.  I can come away from a film about WWI and think it was shocking, humbling and spectacular, but I come away from a piece of immersive theatre like Les Enfants Terribles’ Trench feeling implicated, horrified, uplifted, changed.  I can watch the Jubilee celebrations on TV and feel proud to be a part of the UK, but I can come away from a street party and feel a passionately strong sense of community with such great Victoria Sponge tekkers!

Although screens and pages reach the widest audiences it is the live event, the experience, which has the true power to inspire and engage, to rouse and connect, despite the British weather!

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