Escapism has always existed — including popular activities like listening to a favourite album, going for a run or simply being alone with one’s thoughts. It allows time for self-reflection, which is essential to maintaining a healthy state of mind and overcoming the stresses of daily life.
However, we’re now seeing the emergence in the mainstream entertainment industry of more immersive forms of escape that offer much more than simple distraction. These activities force participants to give up a certain amount of control and take part in scenarios where they typically know little-to-nothing about what lies ahead and experience things they may otherwise never have the opportunity to try out.
As marketers, we’re inspired by the potential of working these forms of escapist activities into our concepts and campaigns, appealing to an audience’s sense of discovery and creating a deeper connection with them in the process.
Today’s biggest escape trends
Let’s take a look at a few of these experiences that have been creating a buzz among our audiences, and why they are so appealing to us in today’s world.
The most literal example is the escape room craze that has been gaining popularity across the globe in recent years. These establishments invite groups of participants to willingly lock themselves in a room, with the only way out being to work together in a given time limit to solve puzzles and riddles through hidden clues placed around the room.
The rooms provide mystery, problem solving and teamwork — all in an active setting. Escape room designer Ali Cheetham thinks the draw to escape rooms is their physical nature, since more and more people are looking for ways to disconnect from technology for a while.
Immersive theatre involves the audience taking on a form of participation in the performance of a live play. The stage can be an entire house, a warehouse, a museum or other venues that allows the audience to freely explore rooms and scenes at their own leisure, creating a more personal experience for all who attend.
These productions are often set in dark venues adding to the mysterious mood. Although it is completely safe, it can give off a very unsettling feeling to those not comfortable with the unknown.
One of the most well-known examples of these shows is New York City’s Sleep No More. In this production, audience members are forbidden to talk, and are each provided with masks to allowing them to stay anonymous throughout the show. This anonymity gives participants the freedom to explore and act differently.
With technology continuing to dominate our lives, it makes perfect sense that one of the new forms of escape is centered around it: virtual reality. To learn more about VR, click through to this article.
Escapism in marketing
As marketers, we see the opportunity to tap into this need to escape. Brands have been doing it for many years through various marketing techniques. Here’s a look at a few of those techniques and themes that continue to be effective in the advertising world.
Nostalgia brings audiences back to a simpler time or place that evokes a sense of comfort in and relatability. Why does it work? This feeling works in favour for the advertiser because it evokes a positive emotional response. These joyful feelings can often lead to action, which in these cases is typically to share with their peers.
One example is Microsoft’s Child of the 90s Internet Explorer advertisement that features a montage of products that were popular in the decade, bringing us back to dial-up internet, bowl-cuts and The Oregon Trail. Targeting Gen-Y, this ad was made to go viral.
On the other end of the spectrum using impactful visuals of nature or far off places can create a sense of wonder and adventure in an audience, inspiring them to seek out something new.
AirBnb recently released their Don’t Go There #LiveThere ad that pushed back against the normal tourist path of following the crowds, and encourages their audience (Millennials and anyone with a taste for adventure) to try something new.
“Don’t go to Paris. Don’t tour Paris, and please don’t do Paris. Live in Paris.” The ad’s mix of familiar scenes of cooking dinner in a home and enjoying the company of friends, with visiting new exotic places shows viewers just how easy it is to go off the beaten path of tourist traps and just live like the locals.
Plan your next escape
Whether you’re ready to dive into the world of VR (check out our experience!) or want to bring other areas of escapism into your marketing strategies, we’d be more than happy to lead the way – contact us today!