Holograms have captured our imagination since Princess Leia asked for Obi-Wan’s help in Star Wars. This otherworldly technology that existed only in our sci-fi dreams is now readily available for entertainment, edutainment, and more.
Disney Music recently announced a deluxe reissue of the Star Wars film soundtrack on vinyl with a special Death Star hologram disk to honor the film’s 40th anniversary. And just last November, the team who brought the late Tupac Shakur to life during an unprecedented hologram concert at Coachella 2012 opened an all-hologram theater in Hollywood.
But the hologram buzz expands beyond just entertainment, increasingly becoming a breakthrough marketing solution in many spaces including brand experience.
You may not want to honor late musical geniuses or bring the Death Star to life during your next event, but by tapping into holograms, you may find that perfect nexus of cutting-edge technology and empathic marketing that elevates your content and delivers immersive experiences to audiences.
Are holograms right for your event portfolio?
Holograms can upgrade any show floor, booth, session, or even meeting with their ability to enthrall attendees and forge lasting, meaningful emotions. This is great news, as research indicates that millennials and younger demographics vehemently demand one-of-a-kind events. They are always looking for those “Instagrammable” moments.
Another great feature of holograms is that, unlike other innovative tech such as virtual reality or second screen, no extra hardware is needed. Audiences just need their eyes. What’s more, holograms are becoming cost-effective even as they become more sophisticated, with one company now able to make them for $10 a digital pop!
Last but far from least, interactive hologram displays are an excellent tool for data gathering. Here are some potential ways to capture audience information:
- Ability to gain participant age, gender, and email before an experience (or after if they request a digital copy afterward)
- Reading sentiment and reaction of participants
- Social listening if the experience is paired with the capacity for social sharing
- Product preference understanding if there are several hologram offerings at an exhibition
The science of holograms
So what is a hologram exactly? Briefly, a hologram is an autonomous three-dimensional image formed by the interference of light beams from a laser or other coherent light source. Interestingly, hologram tech has been around since the 19th century with the invention of Pepper’s Ghost, where a projection is shot at a surface of glass and its reflection appears independent at another location.
(Actually, Shakur’s appearance at Coachella drew from a modern form of Pepper’s Ghost, known as Musion Eyeliner. Many hardline technophiles argue it’s not strictly a hologram since it’s based on thin film projections instead of a controlled lighting environment that produces free-floating images. However, most audiences and marketers today accept both solutions as encompassing holograms).
Today, holograms have evolved to the point they have the ability to be interactive, like reacting to touch or, as recently with one company’s breakthrough, combining with AI to produce a 3D concierge positioned at retail or hotel entrances that responds to consumer questions!
Making holograms work for brand experience
Beyond the traditional floating logos and mascots seen on exhibitor floors, marketers can leverage holograms to produce stunning but useful promotions.
A perfect illustration is when Pepsi and Aquafina created an activation in Chicago that allowed fans to compete with a life-sized holographic baseball player. Fans got the chance to see themselves play baseball with the hologram, which they could then share to their social media profiles.
The potential is enormous when it comes to the broad applications of this tech, like using holograms to create an entire tabletop's décor at a dinner gala (including floating hummingbirds and butterflies) or an entire holographic ocean surrounding an exhibit, with whales and all.
Even more, holograms can increase presentation impact. This occurred at an annual meeting of managers and executives of Bell Helicopter. Alford Media, a Freeman company, provided holograms to supercharge the keynote address in the form of floating, realistic helicopters during crucial parts of the event.
The ways to use holograms are only limited by the imagination. Here are some ideas to spark creativity:
- Augmented reality (AR), such as with Pokémon Go, is very popular. The same goes for gamification. Placing holograms (even paired with AI) throughout an educational scavenger hunt at a conference could go a long way in making unforgettable memories and knowledgeable attendees.
- If you want an AR upgrade, consider the new generation of mixed-reality headsets like the Microsoft HoloLens. What are they? They are holographic computers built into a headset that allow wearers to see, hear, and interact with high-definition holograms within a controlled environment, such as meeting room or exhibit. As shown in this experience from Helios (also a Freeman company), entire holographic city models can be created in a limited space — extremely interactive and tailored to attendees.
- Getting back to games, an interactive one in the form of a hologram can keep attendees longer at your booth. Case in point, at a recent PCMA Convening Leaders, a display transported participants into a kiosk screen where their real-time image could playfully swat floating holographic flowers or butterflies. Best of all, the image of the attendee interacting with the digital content was sharable on social media (and, as mentioned, the perfect vehicle for data gathering).
- In an era of increasing virtual audiences, some companies can project remote speakers as 3D holograms. You can do this and more, including holographic props and backdrops!
Creating uncharted success with holograms
Even with this tech’s perfect combination of practicality, affordability, and hype, marketers should not approach holograms as merely a novelty for brand experiences. As with any groundbreaking digital tech, a creative purpose and clear marketing goals are essential to elevate your brand and connect with attendees.
It’s all about asking yourself how a hologram fits into your marketing ecosystem and provides those shareable experiences that can potentially make your brand immortal like Tupac and Leia.