Quick Read: 3D replicas can make a killer demo of not just products but also experiences.
Vincent van Gogh’s bedroom in Arles, France is arguably the most famous bedroom in the history of art.
It also held special significance for the artist, who created three distinct paintings of this intimate space from 1888 to 1889.
(Van Gogh’s Bedroom Painting, Source)
Earlier this year, the Art Institute of Chicago was to throw open an exhibition called Van Gogh’s Bedrooms containing 36 of his works including paintings, drawings, illustrated letters as well as a selection of books and other ephemera known to have been in his possession.
As part of the promotional campaign for this exhibit, the institute did something innovative.
It recreated his famous bedroom in Chicago’s River North neighborhood and threw it open for rent on Airbnb.
Result: the first block of nights sold out in 5 mins on Airbnb. It helped generate massive buzz about the exhibition that saw 200,000+ visitors in just a few weeks making it the highest attended exhibit in 15 years.
See this video for a sneak view into this initiative.
Commissioning 3D replicas to drive awareness and trial of a product is nothing new. Examples like the above show that they can also make for a killer demo in the realm of experience marketing.
For these are professional grade art works at the intersection of consumer psychology, complex 3D modeling, con art and story telling.
Or take the world of shokuhin samples – the hypnotic world of fake Japanese food.
In Japan, fake food can look very, very real. It’s called “shokuhin sample” (食品サンプル) or “food sample”, and it appears outside restaurants so customers can know what they are ordering.
And it is a damn big deal.
Shokuhin samples have become such an intricate part of the Japanese dining experience that many people stop in front of glass cases filled with fake food, decide what they want, and then enter the restaurant. Some Japanese even complain about the lack of fake food when dinning abroad—that they don’t get to see what they are ordering beforehand!
Most shokuhin samples are still hand made by highly skilled artisans whose painstaking craft – honed over several years of training – results in textures and colors that are so precise that it’s often difficult to tell real food from the samples.
Today shokuhin sample manufacturers fiercely guard their trade secrets as business is lucrative; the plastic food industry in Japan, by conservative estimates, has revenues of over 10 billion yen per year.
Unsurprisingly there are also stores that sell this fake food. Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya is one such shrine dedicated to all things fake food. It has been producing plastic replicas for display in restaurant windows since 1932, but in recent years it’s even wisened up to the tourist trade by selling fake food keyrings, magnets and phone straps as souvenirs.
Journalist Yasunobu Nose has a theory that links the plastic replicas to the visual aesthetic of Japanese food appreciation. In his book titled “Me de taberu Nihonjin (Japanese People Eat With Their Eyes),” Nose writes that food samples are part of the Japanese tendency to “first ‘taste’ dishes by sight, then eat with their mouths and stomachs.” (source)
With such a strong visual aesthetic underpinning the Japanese way of food appreciation, it would be a massive opportunity lost if the food brands (all kinds from ingredient brands to ready to eat brands) in the Japanese supermarkets do not leverage the power of shokuhin samples in their visual merchandising on the shelves.
After all, this is serious performance art that seeks expressiveness of deliciousness and a sincere pursuit of reality as its objectives. While being rooted in local culture.
Can you think of any other multi sensory experiences that can be brought to life with the help of 3D replicas?
Other than sex dolls, I mean 🙂
(Featured Image: Van Gogh’s bedroom replica as listed on Airbnb)