Connect the dots

“Alexa. Jeopardy!”

Mary and I play the New York Times Mini Crossword every morning. Jeopardy every night. We don’t play for fun. We play to win, and therein lies DNA for future brand experiences.

I remember walking on the Boston Common last summer, a family meet-up and movie night. The Common was set-up with Capital One’s summer concert experience, so I wandered over to take a look. What I discovered was that only a few people were listening to the main stage music, fewer still in the VIP area. Everything had been set-up perfectly, but not many were engaged.

My phone buzzed. The brood was hungry. Still, I thought it a perfect time to show off some of what I do. Even if not well attended, we were standing in a well-designed and well-funded sponsorship activation.

“Take a look at these brand experiences,” I declared pointing at GEICO’s Airstream, LL Bean’s Pop-up Tent and Red Bull’s eighteen-wheeler, all of whom surrounded the Main Stage.

“Each of these are million dollar experiences,” I added.

The kids, not all that interested, remained glued to their phones deep into finding Pokémon Go! rewards.

“Dad, take a look around. What do you see?” my son prompted.

Scanning the Common, I noticed hundreds of people searching for something.

“They’re all playing Go!” he offered, showing me his virtual world. There might have been as many people wandering as there were watching the concert. For now, Go! is gone, but that moment sticks with me.

In a world where we are all literally looking at one screen or another 30% of the day, we now naturally combine the addictive nature of social media with our daily lives. As we walk, talk, and work, we’re no looker looking at each other or our surroundings, and yet we are engaged, much to the chagrin of anyone over forty. A hundred years ago, the radio was frightening too.

Today, we’re talking to our computers in earnest. Alexa, Siri and the others are in our cars, homes and heads. They offer a new kind of experience, a conversational one, featuring some of the same dopamine hits as the ones kids were chasing last summer.

I love Alexa, talk to her every morning and every evening. I love Facebook, post pictures and essays daily. I love the NY Times Mini, compete with all the generations of my family for fastest time. This is all social, competitive, and fun. The brands who mix it up and mix it in will win.

When I say “Alexa. Jeopardy!”, the music starts and Alex Trebek announces, “This! Is Jeopardy.”

I say, “This is life!” These, the new brand experiences. And the companies who connect the Dots are going to win.

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