I met Philippe Petit on a plane the other day.
I was on my way back from a business meeting. Although travel can be gruelling, it also gives a rare chance to sit back and catch up on some reading. And e-reading has transformed this experience. I no longer carry around a briefcase stuffed with magazines, some of them months old, that I “must get round to.” I swipe and tap my way to, and through, every magazine and newspaper I might find remotely interesting.
On this occasion, I was rolling through an edition of Wired, when a picture of a Nikon camera caught my attention – because it was on its side. I couldn’t help turning the screen – that’s what we do these days – and when I did so the camera spun around. I tapped on the screen and the pictures came to life, giving me a 360-degree view. Tap again, and I watched a video of the acrobat Philippe Petit (no, I didn’t know who he was until I saw the video, either) doing his tight rope act. The video was to demonstrate the quality of the extreme close ups you can take with this camera. But there was also some remarkable footage of the magical things Philippe can do. There were links to a website and buttons to bounce the story through social media sites to all of my “friends and followers.” Or not. I chose not to. I could even buy the camera there and then and have it shipped to my home.
This got me thinking (one of the other things I do on plane trips).
These devices really are the gifts that keep on giving. They let you take an entire library and newsagent with you wherever you go. When you find yourself with a few minutes to spare, instead of staring at the ceiling, the standby list or the megafeast being wolfed down by the couple opposite, you can sit back and read a book or flick through a magazine. They give you time you didn’t know you had. And they make sure that you always have something you are interested in to fill it.
All that is for the user.
From the perspective of an advertiser – and I am both – they give the gift of tighter targeting and contextual relevance. And who doesn’t want a bit of that? The efficiency of digital media to make it easier to find the things people are interested in is well-documented and well-founded. But what Philippe Petit reminded me of is how valuable they can be in helping is stumble onto things we didn’t know we were interested in.
And not just onto, but into.
I spent several minutes learning about the Nikon camera and Philippe Petit. Minutes, not seconds. It was an experience that couldn’t have been created in any other medium. The camera on its side may have caught my eye on a static page, and I may have turned it around, but that would have been it. No 3-D 360 degree look. And no Philippe Petit.
I stumbled onto the hole, and into it. Welcome to wonderland.
Tags: BBDO, Nikon, philippe petit, tablet, wonderland