Sunday, 19 April 2009

The Dalston Frontline

The army's recruitment advertising has for a longtime done a good job of putting the viewer in a soldier's boots. Remember the one shot from behind a soldier's sunglasses as he was accosted by an irate militia man? The latest ad continues in this vein, giving you a choice as to how you handle a potential bomb factory. The campaign extends online where you can find out if your choice is the right one (I suggested an air strike, which it turns out isn't a good idea!) there are lots of further challenges that capture the mental challenges of war.

Given the overall experiential nature of the army's marketing I was looking forward to seeing what they had achieved in their recently opened 'experiential showroom' in Dalston. Whilst it is impressive, in a kind of modern shop design way, it misses the opportunity to build on the other marketing activity and to make the most of the live environment.

The soldiers manning the place are great - personable and chatty. The 2D display graphics are nicely done, and there are loads of videos with those directional sound dome things above. There is also a video simulator in which you get to hold and 'fire' a real army gun, although unfortunately the games have been bought off the shelf - the one I saw had an American SWOT team in it.

The problem is that the showroom experience doesn't go beyond the audiovisual and doesn't take the opportunity to further explore the 'Start Thinking Soldier' storylines in the TV ads and online work. Instead of having so much screen based activity it would be better to have things to touch and tactile challenges to overcome, creating a multi-sensory experience.

Army recruitment is a dream experiential brief, compared to chocolate bar or even a car there are many many ways to bring being a soldier to life, but this showroom doesn't seem to grasp them. Anyway, nevermind my gripes, go and check it out for yourself.