The advertising playground

‘Play’ is a growing theme at the moment as brands turn on to the concept of harnessing the unbridled joy and freedom of childhood that is represented in the most basic building blocks of our youth.

Play is bigger than just gaming, which has seen players over the last few decades bound to their armchairs, it’s about a reconnection with the physical world. At a time when outdoor play is at an all time low and the freedom of childhood is something resigned to memory, consumers are eager to break out of their digital confines and experience things hands on, in real time, in real locations with real people.

Think of it as the adult equivalent of calling up your friends as a kid to go on a bike ride. One with no destination in mind, with no purpose other than simply ‘to do something’.

Numerous brands are tapping into this new desire, whether it’s the theatrical play of Stella Artois’ The Night Chauffeur, which takes cinematic role play into an interactive live setting, Mini’s urban hide and seek in Sweden, or Nike Grid which sets players running across London in a giant game of postcode tag.

These concepts lie within the realm of pervasive gaming, where the non-real world of fabricated computer games and the games that largely defined our childhood collide.

A simple manifestation of 'advertising as play' was unveiled at the Shenzen and Hong-Kong bi-city biennal of Urbanism/Architecture earlier this year.   The ‘Double Happiness’ art installation turned the basic structure of a billboard hoarding into a double urban swing.

“By playing this “risky” game, and testing their own limits, two people can experience together a new perception of space, void, lightness and recover an awareness of the physical world, “ said the creators behind the structure.

This is where 'The New Playtime' can work for brands, by taking consumers out from the safety and complexity of console and social media gaming, and into the ‘risky’ and tangible world of actual Play.

For more on this subject see ‘The New Playtime: Reconnecting with the Inner Child through Pervasive Gaming” in the August FRUKT Source trend report.

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