In 2020, the global health crisis fundamentally changed consumer behavior, forcing brands to quickly rethink their marketing strategies, particularly within the experiential and events realm.
In order to drive engagement amid social distancing and stay-at-home orders, many brands pivoted to recreate their in-person events as virtual experiences. But the things that are typically associated with a traditional event—the shared moments, organic networking opportunities, and hands-on interaction, to name a few—are challenging to replicate online. With this in mind, some brands scrapped the idea of producing exact replicas of traditional events, and instead built new types of brand encounters specifically designed to leverage the (many) benefits of digital formats. One brand that succeeded in doing just that was Netflix.
And the award goes to…Netflix
Every year during Emmy campaign season, Netflix creates a massive brand activation called FYSEE to showcase its original content to voting academy members, the press, and fans. For over two weeks, the Raleigh Studios lot in Los Angeles is transformed into a sea of interactive installations, screenings, and panel discussions that immerse visitors in Netflix’s most popular films and shows.
Last year, amid the global pandemic, Netflix partnered with Subvrsive and We’re Magnetic to reimagine the event as a digital experience. The result was FYSEE 360: an immersive web experience that brings Netflix’s most iconic worlds to life online in 360 degrees. As Deadline stated, “FYSEE-360 is an immersive experience that lets Emmy voters deeper into the world of shows including The Crown, Ozark and Stranger Things.”
FYSEE 360 didn’t just fill the gap that was left after the FYSEE event in Los Angeles was canceled. It was updated and re-released to the public and can now live online indefinitely to captivate audiences worldwide.
The FYSEE 360 Experience
Upon entering the experience, users find themselves immersed in a 360-degree lobby, standing before the red Netflix “N”, surrounded by ten enticing portals. Each glowing door leads to an immersive interaction with a different Netflix original, and once chosen, instantly transports users to a memorable scene from that film or show. Users can descend the carpeted red steps of Buckingham Palace in The Crown, stop by the Hardings’ backyard from Dead to Me, or stand behind the competition table from The Queen’s Gambit. They can also interact with hotspots throughout their journey, exploring behind-the-scenes videos, interviews with cast and crew, and more.
Every environment within FYSEE 360 was created with the highest quality standard in mind. The Subvrsive design team worked closely with Netflix and individual showrunners to identify key locations from the shows and then recreate them digitally in stunning detail.
“It was important for our team to really zero in on the details,” said Subvrsive’s Art Director, Josh Christensen. “As you enter the portal to The Queen’s Gambit, if you shift your gaze upward, you’ll notice a chessboard on the ceiling, which is a nod to Beth’s ability to visualize chess games entirely in her mind. It’s something only true fans of the show might catch, and it’s one of my favorite hidden details.”
Besides the beautiful visuals, FYSEE 360 also relies on sweeping camera movements and ambient sound design to take users on a cinematic journey, making this immersive experience far more captivating than a traditional website. As users explore the Missouri Belle casino from Ozark, they hear a custom soundscape designed to set the tone for the environment. Subtle music, voices of fellow gamblers, and the chiming of slot machines envelop users as they explore their surroundings, creating a true sense of presence.
Brand Benefits of Digital Experiences
A fundamental benefit digital experiences hold over live events is their ability to live on indefinitely and be tweaked and repurposed to engage broader audiences.
While FYSEE 360 was originally built to fill a direct need and replace an in-person event, a second iteration was released publicly that includes new shows, environments, and behind-the-scenes content. Additionally, an Exit Door was added that leads to other digital activations Netflix has created over the years. It is a great example of how one digital experience can be fully integrated into a brand’s larger marketing campaign.
“Some of the most effective solutions we provide brands are more than just one-off projects or events. They’re always-on activations that seamlessly integrate with a larger campaign,” said Subvrsive’s Director of Strategic Growth, Max Bolotov. “Providing an experience as a web-based activation allows us to move away from—or supplement—live events that are short-lived, and reach broader audiences for extended periods of time.”
Looking Ahead: The Lasting Shift to Digital
In 2020, we saw how digital innovation can help brands engage their audiences in the face of a quickly changing marketing landscape. The fundamental shift in consumer behavior welcomed a new era of virtual experiences and expedited years of digital innovation and adoption into just a few months. While the pandemic won’t last forever, and things may start to normalize soon, we believe many of the shifts we’ve seen will be everlasting: more people will work remotely, more shoppers will rely on e-commerce, and consumers will continue to demand better digital tools and experiences from the brands they love most.
As the world moves forward into a new normal, brands ought to continue leveraging the potential of digital experiences to engage their customers in the years to come.