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How Projection Mapping Creates Incredible Content Marketing Experiences

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Audiences today have seen it all, which makes it increasingly difficult for marketers to capture and maintain attention. Stunning visuals are key, of course – but what about something that might actually make them stop and stare?
Projection mapping is a high-quality, light-beaming technology that can transform any surface or building façade while delivering a serious emotional impact to the viewer. The possibilities are virtually endless when it comes to what you can project: Animations, clever copy, video sequences. Mesmerizing laser shows that dance across a room.
Projection mapping is a storytelling tool used around the world at concerts, clubs, and fun parks, but also within various venues and along city streets. Big brands, nonprofits, and artists alike have employed the medium to make a certain kind of magic come to life, engaging audiences and leaving them spellbound. Think of it as interactive content on massive or unusual canvases.
Have a look at how these international brands from across industries have made a memorable mark on content and experiential marketing with the use of projection mapping.


Industry: Automobile
Collaborator: Holition
Setting: BMW stores around the world
Surface: BWW 7 Series Sedan
Approach: To promote the new BMW 7 Series Sedan, last year the luxury automaker set up at flagship brand store locations around the world to deliver a piece of projection for the books. One show in Brussels, Munich, Paris, and Seoul, the light installation “BMW Projection Mapping,” brought together the fields of art, design, and technology to cast a captivating video animation of the brand’s behind-the-scenes creative process, from drafts and prototypes, all the way to the finished product.
Using advanced, powerfully synced projector streams, the team mapped out BMW’s step-by-step design work, hypnotizing viewers with a 27-second loop and providing “an educational journey showing the human craft involved in creating the technical blueprints and clay casting, to the machine craft involved in the engineering and build of such a luxurious and advanced car.” The result? A highly engaging visual experience that left visitors with a sense of awe.
And for an extra bit of fun, the company also installed iPads around stores, featuring a facial recognition app and encouraging visitors to play around with BMW-designed filters. This “involved Holition customizing its advanced face-tracking technology to design an interactive augmented reality experience… inspired by the futuristic material elements and natural curves of the BMW 7 Series” – the cool, metallic ridges of which conform in striking and entertaining contrasts to each user’s visage.
Insider Takeaway: “Our aim [was] to bring visitors closer to the BMW brand through new and interactive experiences,” said Claudette Pohl, Head of Brand Experience, Customer. “In this project, we have found the ideal combination of ground-breaking digital ‘luxury storytelling’ and strong aesthetic appeal.”

Fabergé at Harrods

Industry: Retail
Collaborators: JUSTSO/PixelArtworks
Setting: Interactive store window display at Harrods
Surface: Spherical model egg
Approach: The Fabergé and JUSTO/PixelArtworks design teams were tasked with recreating a small, delicate Fabergé pendant at 100 times its size for the pre-Easter window display at Harrods a few years back. But the biggest challenge? Creating something that could actually be seen while the sun was out – a barrier for many projectors up until then.
In the end, they were able to construct a huge scale model egg, “made daylight-visible by sixteen ultra-bright projectors stitched together” and beamed from all sides, according to PixelArtworks. “Spherical projection canvases are typically the most difficult as they lack the hard edges required for accurate mapping, but a groundbreaking new production tool – D3 4×4 Pro – facilitated pixel-perfect projection.”

Technicalities aside, the project was a success. The visual spectacle was enough to make people stop in their tracks – and the accompanying Fabergé Interactive Desk worked to drive more and more people into the store as well. The DIY design interface allowed visitors to customize their own projections, choosing from a selection of colors and patterns to beam onto the egg in real-time, dazzling themselves, shoppers, and anyone who happened to be walking by.
Insider Takeaway: “This kind of installation would never have been feasible a few years ago, and the projectors would have been enormous,” according to Tom Burch, Managing Director of PixelArtworks. “The continuing development of projector technology is constantly opening up exciting opportunities in retail, even in high levels of ambient light.”

Sydney Opera House 

Industry: Arts and culture
Collaborators: Samsung Australia and artists Jenuarrie, Frances Belle Parker, Alick Tipoti, Lin Onus, and Minnie Pwerle
Setting: Building exterior, Sydney Opera House
Surface: Unique architectural sails
Approach: Last summer, Australia’s famed Sydney Opera House debuted a projection mapping event, beamed onto the surface of its architecturally renowned theater – specifically, its broad white sails. “The beautiful thing about using the sails is the ability to animate the work,” said the theater’s Head of First Nations Programming, Rhoda Roberts. “You get a feel for how it moves, because nothing is static in our culture.” The seven-minute display streams Indigenous art, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum and Naidoc Week, and celebrating Aboriginal history, culture, and contributions to Australia.
The daily projection, “Badu Gili,” takes place year-round at sunset and 7 p.m. (and is best viewed from the podium at the top of the monumental steps, according to the Opera). Its name means “water light” in the language of the people who once lived on Bennelong Point – on which the theatre stands. And it promotes the world premiere of Bennelong, a new performance from Indigenous contemporary dance company Bangarra Dance Theatre. The whole production is an inspiring, big-picture-thinking example of high culture, experiential content marketing that honors indigenous people while promoting inclusion – thanks to the power of projection.
Insider Takeaway: With this projection mapping project, “You’re transported into the ancient experience of the songlines and this important Gadigal piece of land, and at the same time you experience the contemporary vibrancy of First Nations culture,” says Sydney Opera House Chief Executive Officer Louise Herron. “Indigenous culture in Australia is rich and diverse. But how do you make it real and present and exciting for people now? This is our attempt to do that.”

Courtyard by Marriott 

Industry: Travel and hospitality
Collaborator: Bluemedia
Setting: New York City street
Surface: Geodesic dome
Approach: For years, Courtyard by Marriott has partnered with the NFL as its official hotel, and for the last three, run a campaign and competition called the Courtyard Superbowl Sleepover. In it, a lucky winner and guest get to spend the night before the big event in a specially-designed and constructed hotel room within the game day stadium itself, waking up to a leisurely breakfast for two – along with an unparalleled view of the playing field.
Last fall, the team at Courtyard decided to let some other fans in on the fun. Working with creative agency Bluemedia, 20 people set up a geodesic dome in the heart of New York City, right next to the Flatiron Building. In an attempt to create buzz and boost excitement over the contest, the brand invited passersby to step inside and check out a Courtyard by Marriott suite set-up – complete with comfy bed – before settling in for a 4D virtual reality video projected across the curve of the dome, not unlike in a planetarium.
“We know NFL fans value epic experiences that bring them closer to the game,” said Karin Timpone, Global Marketing Officer for Marriott International, and this stunt provided just that. The projection mapping experience engaged fans through a fantastical, all-immersive journey before dropping them in the middle of a stadium, right in the action of a football game’s simulated opening kickoff. According to Bluemedia (and video footage), “The final product had hundreds of fans and contest winner-hopefuls lined up around the block, but impressed NFL fans and players alike.”
Insider Takeaway: “We’re tracking individual impressions in terms of media coverage, engagement, likes/shares/follows on all of the social channels, we also do a lot of brand health and brand tracking,” revealed Michael Dail, Vice President of Global Brand Marketing for Marriott International. “People who are aware of Courtyard and the NFL being partners see Courtyard as being more contemporary and more modern more professional. They are also 70 percent more willing and more interested in considering it for their next business trip.”
What do you think? Could projection mapping be part of your future? With the bud of an idea and a talented team, real-life magic is within reach. Think about all that you can create with the simple projection of light, and how it can be used to tell the story of your brand while reaching more and more audiences across the globe.
One more example to get your creative juices flowing comes from Japanese artist and scientist Nobumichi Asai. Using computer graphics and facial projection with tracking technology, he transforms his model’s visage into an array of abstract and figurative designs, enchanting any spectator by the mere possibility of it all. And in the words of the artist, that’s “the most interesting thing about technology…that it makes the impossible, possible.” 

Anastasia Dyakovskaya is a NewsCred Contributor.

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