Interacting With Interactives

Sep 03, 2008

An immersive, interactive theater experience developed by Blue Telescope for Pfizer explores the diagnosis of neurological conditions. Visitors sit in a half-dome theater (pictured here) surrounded by high definition video. Using audience-response handsets, viewers vote on patients, screening tests, and final diagnoses (opposite page). The video combines live-action sequences with CGI animations highlighting the benefits of Pfizer's neuroscience products. ALL PHOTOS COURTESY BLUE TELESCOPE
I NTERACTIVE EXHIBITS COMBINE THE ALLURE OF A PENNY ARCADE, THE WIZARDRY OF A science show, and the calculation of a computer. In short, interactives are an inspired marketing tool. And it turns out that they are especially suited for promoting pharmaceuticals.

To find out why, we resently talked with Trent Oliver (see accompanying article), CEO of Blue Telescope, an award- winning company that researches, designs, and creates interactive content across a variety of media. Blue Telescope works directly with a diverse range of corporations, including pharmaceutical companies, marketing firms, ad agencies, and museums; recently they created interactives for the USS Intrepid Sea and Space Museum.

Oliver started her career as a stage manager for live corporate shows before moving onto films, commercials, and corporate videos. When she discovered the field of interactives, it was love at first sight. "I just went, 'Oh, what's that?'" says Oliver. "It's a blend of everything—a live show with film (or video or animation), and it's interactive."

But her most favorite thing about the work is that it allows her to observe. "I'm fascinated by what people would do, and why they do it," she says. "For me, it's more about the attendee than the brand."

In the course of our conversation Oliver explained her take on interactives' place in the world of pharma meetings.

Why are interactives effective?

Oliver: Interactives work best when you have something you can't show. Pharmaceuticals are uniquely suited because you can't show how a pill works. You can show mechanism-of- action videos, but it's still limited. Aerospace would be another example. You can't just fly a huge monster engine. But an interactive can take you through a journey. It can make you feel as if you've have flown it.

It brings to mind children's museums. Kids have incredible experiences with the exhibits, when in the old days they'd be hanging on their parent's hand staring at a stuffed bear.

It's true. Children's museums have some of the best interactives because they have to communicate with people who may not read, or read a little bit. The challenge is how do you get them to have an experience without having to work too hard to have it? Also, people are so used to the Internet they expect that kind of information to be served up everywhere in their lives. On the other hand, if the interactive is not intuitive, if you confuse people for a moment, they'll walk away.