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#BODCT: Creating engaging experiences and going viral

Business of Design 2017 targeted the ultimate 21st century business dream - creating an engaging brand experience with Studio H and Thingking, with The Kiffness sharing how he goes viral on social media - but it's not quite as easy as 1,2,3,4.
Hannerie Visser and Marc Nicolson, founder of Studio H and cofounder of Thingking respectively, kept the post-lunch BODCT crowd entertained with insights into creating engaging experiences for brands.

Visser, Nicolson and Scott.

Visser began by describing the piñata as the most basic form of sensory experience, as you can’t see, feel, smell, hear or taste anything until cracking it open, which heightens the anticipation and, as a result, the experience. That’s what she tailors through the lens of food each day.

Tasty design experiments

Ultimately, you want people to remember the experience with your brand by engaging with all their senses. To share what she meant by this with the audience, we were given paper bags labelled 'taste experiments'. First up was a paper strip to lick. For the ‘super tasters’ - apparently 25% of the population - the taste was bitter. For the rest, it tasted like, well, licking paper. We also experienced the effect of sound on the taste of food by opening a packet of crisps in silence, and chewing on a few, then comparing the taste to the exact same crisps with aeroplane white noise in the background. This has been found to increase the crunch but reduce the saltiness and sweetness of the taste – no wonder food served on planes is usually deemed as bland!

We also determined whether colour plays a role in taste, with the audience live-voting in a Twitter poll on whether orange, green or white marshmallows tasted sweeter despite all being the same flavour:

Great believers in collaboration and the endless possibilities of tech, Visser explained that Studio H regularly collaborates with Thingking, effectively handing the speaker baton over to Nicolson, who explained that lots of research and development goes into what they do.

Surprise and delight consumers

This includes image recognition and the gamification of typical consumer interaction. So instead of getting customers to walk into your store, fill out a digital contact form or complete a shopping cart payment online, they can tweet or WhatsApp their requests such as with the world’s first Twitter-activated vending machine for Bos and a mind-reading vending machine for Castle Lite, an interactive taste and smell activator for Johnny Walker, an interactive giant speedometer for Mini Cooper, and a three-kilometre-long interactive outdoor website for Toyota RAV4 - offering the unexpected is the ultimate way for brands to delight consumers.

Having seen some of their work in action, it's little wonder Thingking won Best Stand Design at COP17 for the Department of Environmental Affairs and Best Stand for World Wildlife Fund at the Cycle Expo.

Catching the viral vibe of The Kiffness

David Scott of The Kiffness was next at the podium. He is a “meme-generator, planet-shaker, thought leader and music maker,” who joked about having used PowerPoint for the first time since high school for his presentation on going viral on social media. That's because his social media posts are anything but serious, with many going viral overnight and over 10,000 followers on Instagram, with 55,000 likes on his Facebook page. Here's how he does it...

The Kiff interview

It's been quite a week for The Kiffness, as they released their new single 'You Say You Love Me' celebrating the LGBT community and questioned Woolworths' standard of beauty demonstrated through its choice of mannequins.

By Pasqua Heard 29 Jul 2016

Scott explained that his social media strategy is to create content that plants a seed and challenges people to think. As a result, many brands approach him to make viral content for them, but it's not as simple as that, as Scott's posts aren't based on selling something. Instead, what he enjoys seeing and posting online highlights what he calls ‘the absurdity of life’ and our preconceived ideas of the world.

He shared that the first social posts that went viral for him was a response to the love 'em or hate 'em Telkom ‘talking babies’ ads. His response got in the region of 22,000 likes.

He only hears from the brands over the internet, which he thinks is pretty cool. He’s also not afraid to shoot a social video wherever he is – it’s the mark of authenticity as the idea is most important.

His four-step process is as follows:

1. Posts what he likes to see

It could be as simple as recording the sound of a hadeda while out walking, or playing the clip of EFF chanting 'Zupta must fall' during the State of the Nation Address over a catchy beat:

2. Posts what people are talking about, with his spin on it

Scott scrolls through social media to see what people are posting and puts humour into topics that make others angry.

On hitting the sweet spot for your brand, Scott admits lots of what he posts has nothing to do with his career, but it does happen that there’s overlap and that creating a meme garners a better response than a simple text status update.

3. Not afraid to speak his version of the truth

Scott says life is too short to please others, so he goes for it. Surprisingly, there’s lots of support in addition to those that disagree online. Scott feels the grey areas that can offend are often the best topics to talk about.

For example, Scott lost roughly 1,000 fans in the space of an hour for a single tweet.

Many musos steer clear of sharing their views as they don’t want to offend, and a healthy amount of backlash is to be expected. It can also lead have a positive response:

4. Learned to laugh at himself

Ignore your haters or surprise them with kindness, advises Scott.

That’s just a taste of the current flavour of design-thinking. Click here for our Business of Design coverage, and be sure to follow @busofdesign for the latest updates.

About Leigh Andrews

Leigh Andrews (@leigh_andrews) is Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at and one of our Lifestyle contributors. She is passionate about issues of inclusion, equality and diversity, the only SA finalist shortlisted for the Women in Marketing #WIMawards2017, and can be reached at .