Google briefed us to create a memorable and moving experience for UK press and influencers to launch their new Pixel 2 smartphone. Although Google’s first Pixel device received much critical acclaim, disrupting the hegemony of Apple and Samsung is tough; both brands are currently on their 8th or 9th generation device and, as such, have built up considerable market share and brand loyalty.
What’s more, smartphones are so integral to people’s lives that the fear and insecurity attached to trying an alternative represents a significant barrier to consideration, let alone purchase. After all, they are the means with which we communicate with those closest to us. They contain a rich record of our most precious moments. We use them to organise our lives and connections with other people. And they entertain us, providing a window to the world outside of our everyday lives.
Simply put, we are creatures of habit. Especially when it comes to the technology with which we are most intimate: our phones.
So we turned the problem on its head. Rather than just focusing on communicating the virtues of a new phone, we set out to address the fundamental challenge of opening people’s eyes to new possibilities. We set out to reawaken their curiosity about what a phone could do and the role it could play in people’s lives.
And so The Curiosity Rooms was born.
The Curiosity Rooms was a series of highly immersive, shareable and intriguing experiences, located in the Old Hotel at London’s iconic Selfridges store. It was a playground for inquisitive minds; part festival of ideas, part art installation, part experimental laboratory.
Each experiential vignette represented a blend of content, wonder and magic that placed the guest at the centre of a unique moment; arousing their curiosity and encouraging a questioning spirit. Which made complete sense coming from Google; a company that was founded on a powerful question: “What if the world’s information could be made available to everyone?..”
As well as featuring the new Pixel phone, other members of the Made by Google hardware family were also featured.
The ‘Animal Atelier’ experience encouraged guests to take a short quiz in order to find out what their inner animal would be, before posing with a stylised (and distinctively pink) model of that animal. They also received a corresponding embroidered patch.
In ‘Scent Spectrum’, guests took a journey through time by sniffing a series of unlabelled scents to see what and where they were reminded of. They were then able to blend their selected scents to create a unique and personalised fragrance.
In the ‘Daydream Forest’, guests were transported into different worlds via Google’s Daydream VR headset.
With ‘Pixel Portraits’, guests were photographed using an array of Pixel phones to create animated gifs. They were then able to share their unique GIF via their social channels.
In the ‘Google Home Mini Donut Shop’, guests could refuel themselves with a delicious donut, as well as recharging their phones.
The Stranger Things AR Lounge allowed guests to use Pixel phones in order to ‘see’ their favourite characters from Stranger Things in the space.
Finally, there were Study rooms for guests to get hands on with the Made by Google hardware range.
This intriguing series of experiences culminated in intimate performance sets from Nick Grimshaw, Maya Jama and Nadia Rose.
The press and influencer launch events generated over 200 press articles and 31 million impressions.
Following the success of those events, The Curiosity Rooms lived on at Selfridges as a series of consumer events, with workshops and guest speakers - including Riz Ahmed, Es Devlin, Adwoa Aboah and Dr Julia Shaw - speakers who would resonate with, attract and inspire Google’s target audience; awakening their sense of discovery and wonder. This was the very first time that Google had hosted consumer-facing events and so to achieve sell-out status was an extraordinary achievement.
“…it’s certainly made me more curious about what Google has to offer.”