When I first stumbled across the concept of 4DX cinemas, to say I was sceptical would be something of an understatement. Whilst the idea of being bashed about from pillar to post in order to replicate the physical thrill of the action on-screen might work wonders as a 15 minute theme park attraction, when stretched out to fill a 90 minute movie, the concept seemed (on paper at least) needlessly over the top and, at worst, could be more than a little distracting. For advertising, however, it seems like a perfect fit. I mean, who is going to forget an advert they can actually 'feel' in a hurry?
“4DX takes the cinematic experience to a whole new dimension and truly brings our trailer to life”
Enter McCann London, who have created the first 4DX-enabled cinema spot to promote the new Xbox One game, Forza Horizon 3. In the game, players can race over 350 vehicles and explore the rugged off-road wonder of Australia in a celebration of fast cars, banging tunes and the freedom of the open road. It's a genuinely great game that does everything it's predecessors did and more besides, but I'm not here to talk about the game, I'm here to talk about the revolutionary, first-of-its-kind cinematic campaign behind it.
For those unfamiliar with the technology, 4DX cinema is an immersive experience first created in the technological wonderland that is South Korea, and many are touting it as the potential saviour of the cinematic industry, as it provides an experience you simply couldn't get at home. The idea is that it stimulates all five sense using high-tech motion seats and special effects such as wind, fog, lightning, bubbles, water, and unique 'scents' that are blasted at the viewers to match the action on-screen. If you've ever been to Disneyland, think the “Honey I Shrunk the Audience” ride and you'll get the idea. Available exclusively at a handful of Cineworld cinemas in the UK (Crawley, Glasgow, Ipswich, Milton Keynes, Sheffield and Stevenage), the technology is generally reserved for big budget blockbusters, so McCann and Xbox are really acting as trailblazers here.
The high-octane 60-second spot, created by McCann London and CRAFT, McCann's production agency, showcases footage of the video game onscreen while 4DX technology gives viewers the impression that they are in the driving seat. The immersive execution incorporates everything 4DX has to offer (hi-tech motion seats and special effects including water sprays, gusts of air, fog and strobe lighting) which all work in harmony with the action on-screen to immerse audiences and blur the lines between the world of Forza and the real world. The campaign was devised and implemented by Empower Media, a division of Dentsu Aegis Network, with Digital Cinema Media and will run during showings of “The Magnificent Seven,” “Ben-Hur” and “Suicide Squad” among others. A 2D version of the creative will also air on non-4DX enabled screens for the entire campaign period of four weeks.
“We're excited to be pioneering this thrilling piece of tech to showcase the high octane world of Forza Horizon 3”
Karen Stacey, CEO of Digital Cinema Media said: “When 4DX first launched in cinemas in the UK last year, it opened a whole new world of possibilities for brands advertising in the space. DCM is now proud to have worked with our partners to bring this superb innovation to the ad reel and Forza Horizon is the perfect fit for the technology.” Jon Edney, Senior Category Manager at Xbox UK, added: ”We are extremely excited to be pioneering this thrilling piece of technology to showcase the high octane world of Forza Horizon 3. The 4DX element takes the cinematic experience to a whole new dimension and truly brings our trailer to life”
It looks pretty intense from where I'm sitting, and the idea of distilling the essence of what 4DX has to offer into a single minute is a great idea, as it not only creates an incredibly memorable spot, but acts as a perfect advertisement for the technology itself.
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and struggling musician from Kidderminster in the UK.