Monday, October 26, 2009
Brands as Immersive Environments
This past weekend I participated in the Nike Human 10K Race – a virtual race for runners from all over the world. As we have been discussing ways in which consumers engage with brands through immersive environments like NikePlus.com, I thought it might be beneficial to attempt to recount my experience to you. From the outset, I want to emphasize just how strange it was to run a race (I use the term loosely) all by myself: no one to run with; and, no one to cheer me on. When I passed other runners in my neighborhood, I wondered whether they were doing the same thing I was. But all I could do was nod in acknowledgment. It was a rather strange feeling, I must say. I could have joined a “community” online, but that would have been a virtual experience, not a real community of runners to actually run with. I guess I could have attempted to locate local runners who were participating in the Nike Human 10K and run with them, but that seemed kind of like a weird thing to do. So, I ran a race alone. What place did I come in? 5,421. Doesn’t sound so good, does it? Five thousandth place. But then again there were tens of thousands of runners. So, it was only when I uploaded my run to the NikePlus web site that I was able to get a feeling of some satisfaction. I could locate my place at the finish, and I could compare my time to people from all over the world. I walked away (metaphorically speaking) from the event with a pretty good feeling about the whole thing. But I can’t say I felt connected, socially networked. It wasn’t a bad experience, and since I use this website on a regular basis, running in a virtual race—in the end—was just an extension of what I already had been doing in this immersive brand environment.