Digital-led creative agency Method is doing things you could only imagine. Yes, really. Much like what Disney does with its Imagineering Team, Method is a New Zealand company that specialises in fusing storytelling with tech to create awe-inspiring experiences. Managing director Sam Ramlu says linking the digital and physical together to create these experiences isn’t just limited to sectors like tourism or entertainment, either, as other industries have not yet tapped into the potential of AR, VR and other types of technology that can take physical experiences to the next level. Here, she shares how Method is reimagining the way brands can communicate their ideas.
“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible,” Walt Disney once said. These words certainly ring true for Sam Ramlu, who has spent 16 years at the helm of Method using a combination of cutting-edge technologies to deliver an emotional, engaging experience for brands.
While Method started out making websites in the early 2000s – and it still does build websites – it has moved with the times, and is a specialist in using modern technology to craft an experience, be it using AR, VR, MR (mixed reality), game development, AI or 360 video to enhance an exhibition, office, walking tour, campaign, book or event.
However, Ramlu says the use of this technology is more meaningful than gimmicky.
“The thing for us, I always say, is it’s never tech for tech’s sake,” she says. “The technology isn’t the first thing we look at or jump on. We extract and explore the story, what the customer journey is and then look at how tech can help amplify that. It’s all about doing something that takes that story and creates an awe-inspiring experience.
“How do we keep you engaged or have a better emotional connection? The tech has become better and better and we have the ability to do increasingly amazing stuff that connects with and engages people bringing with it awe and surprise and delight moments.”
She says combining the digital and physical worlds will always have a ‘gimmick’ element to it, but where Method differentiates is getting someone’s attention – and keeping it. They also make sure the technology used is not the main focal point of the experience.
The technology isn’t the first thing we look at. We extract and explore the story, what the customer journey is and then look at how tech can help amplify that. It’s all about doing something that takes that story and creates an awe-inspiring experience.
“The reaction you want is for people to say, ‘Wow I really engaged with that content’, almost to the point where they forget the tech. You happened to experience it in VR, but what stays with you is the messaging,” Ramlu says.
But what experiences should brands be looking at creating? After all, in 2020, the digital world is also increasingly noisy and filled with a lot of content and clutter. Ramlu says this is when authenticity becomes key, as telling a genuine story is the most important aspect when using this technology.
“What are the insights about your company, your audience and your clients and how can you turn that into a really great story you can tell or journey you can explore?” Ramlu says. “What’s the genuine connection you have?”
As well as this, while the use of these technologies has been picked up by the entertainment and tourism sectors, Ramlu says there’s untapped potential for other industries to start thinking about creative ways they can use technology to share an experience. This could be a way to engage with consumers, clients or even their own staff through an in-office activation.
“It’s not just limited to theme parks, museum and entertainment locations anymore,” she says. “Brands are creating experiences from internal experiences to the CX (customer experience) and the customer journey. That’s on almost every level – online campaign or site, through to the physical and digital link – that whole of location-based experience.”
Companies like Fonterra, Starbucks and Chelsea Sugar are creating experiences in their office space environments that showcase their brand, story or a certain innovation in a unique way.
Method have recently worked with energy company Mercury on a activation featuring Evie – a 1957 Ford Fairlane that was converted into an electric vehicle. Method created a VR experience for the car which has been showcased around NZ. Mercury have also included the experience in their new office fitout as a way to showcase their wider brand story – it’s been such a successful engagement experience for customers and staff.
“Business are looking at their spaces as a way to market and tell their brand stories,” Ramlu explains. “What we’re finding is people are wanting different ways to engage with their teams and clients. Not just internationally but locally as well, the office space environments are a no-brainer as a place to start to provide a unique and interesting way to showcase the brand and the story to their customers and staff.”
Ramlu says at the end of the day, Method helps businesses increase human engagement and enhance their brand experience.
“It’s being able to walk into a museum and feel like you’re in a butterfly garden, or put on a headset and feel like you’re transported to a coffee plantation – with a cup of coffee waiting for you in the real world. That goes so much beyond a video or a website. It’s making the physical moments and experiences and events so much more enriching.”
Bringing a story to life
Method has worked with a diverse range of organisations on various projects over the years. Here’s a handful of them.
Mercury VR experience. Method created a VR experience which showcased how Mercury is making energy wonderful by allowing people to go on a virtual journey with Mercury and Evie, the vintage car the company has converted in an electric vehicle.
The Secret World of Butterflies. As part of Auckland Museum’s exhibition of 13,000 butterflies, Method created a digital garden where people could create and release a customised butterfly into a digital world, which then shows up on the projected feature wall. A mobile version launched at Aotea Square over summer.
The Boy and The Lemon. Showcasing its skills to take storytelling to the next level, Method created an AR and VR version of a children’s book written by James Hurman called The Boy and The Lemon.
The Tupaia Game at Auckland Museum. Tupaia’s Challenge is an interactive experience based around the journey of Tupaia, a Tahitian navigator and high priest. Method created a mapped digital navigation game that is controlled by a physical tiller with 3D features.
Techweek Vector Lights. Students from Clendon Park School and Manurewa High School teamed up with Method for a unique collaboration to launch Techweek by lighting up the Auckland Harbour Bridge, with Method recreating the Techweek and Upstarters experience.
Originally published in Idealog - https://idealog.co.nz/tech/2020/01/from-impossible-to-possible-how-method-is-reimagining-experiences-using-tech-2