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July/ August 2010 EXHIBITING- Exhibition analysis for the marketing professional 38 the contractor " Let's say you have a special project for a giant global brand. The product is a groundbreaking, hi- tech feature film set 65 million years ago, you have four weeks to launch, no venue, no supplier and four sets of sponsors to satisfy. You are going to need a miracle, or at least a supplier who can work one for you. This was the challenge set by event company Merlin, theme park Chessington World of Adventures ( CWA), media giant 20th Century Fox, and ice cream manufacturer Walls for the launch of the recent Ice Age 3movie. Before an agency came on board, the discussions had been limited to branding, graphics and regular give- away promotions; tried and tested, low impact, low risk strategies we all know and love. That may provide great value for money and be easy to organise, but if your objective is to break new ground and immerse the audience in your brand, a give- away is not going to cut the mustard, especially when the product is the third of a movie trilogy. Everyone was keen to push into new territory and provide an immersive experience. CWA and Merlin provided an area at Chessington, which we could adapt as necessary. This meant direct competition for audience share with roller coasters, log flumes and all of the other excitement at a theme park. Fox needed the experience to reflect the sophistication and fun of the film. Likewise, Walls needed the product it had developed especially for the launch of the film to be represented in a credible manner. Less than three weeks before the film launch, we had our first meeting with all the parties. There was clearly a lot to cover, so the dialogue began with an open forum. Visionary thinking was needed, especially considering the timing and a relatively modest budget. The most important thing any supplier can do at this stage is listen. With a tight deadline, and so many parties involved, there may not be another chance. If something is missed, it could cost Did four clients and one tight deadline give MD of design agency Helix 3D, Brian Dowling, brain freeze on the set of an Ice Agebrand experience? Recreating the Ice Age was snow picnic Welcome to Ice Age 3: the visitors entered here to begin their journey

EXHIBITING- July/ August 2010 www. exhibitingmagazine. co. uk 39 the contractor The set began outside with a giant cliff face made of moulded plastic and wax. Guests would be lured through a snowy, windswept entrance into the cavern. The walls curved organically left to right, up and down, had an undulating floor and was covered with marble chippings which crunched icily as people walked. At every point there was something to see, but around the next turn was another mystery to pull the audience through. The next part was a jungle area. Guests burst through an overgrown time or a valuable opportunity. Our objective was to stand back, take a fresh look and find the thread which would tie this project together. It was decided to take the audience on a journey which paralleled the film. The trick was good old-fashioned suspension of disbelief, and we could design an environment with lighting, sound, smell, texture, temperature and humidity. These would all amplify the experience along a 60m long, walk- through stage set that snaked through the structure. entrance into another fantasy world where the temperature was 15 degrees higher, the humidity was 90 per cent and the mulch on the floor gave off a sweet aroma. The jungle was blacked out, but lit with small lamps. Guests climbed across real rock faces, walked through a dinosaur rib cage and over a bridge before entering a straw hut where the movie trailer was playing. We presented our vision to Fox, it was accepted and the main issue would only be logistical. With only 10 days left before the launch of the film it was going to be tight. If you are in a similar position, working with a contractor who can work independently and quickly without losing sight of the overall vision is vital. It is also important that your team appreciates the crucial practicalities of a large installation; emergency lighting, firesafety drill, disabled access etc. You need intelligent time and motion analysis of the number of guests likely to pour through such an installation. You can't have bottlenecks or hold- ups, yet you still need to engage your audience. The numbers for this event were impressive; 15,000 in the first week, nearly 200,000 over three months, and each guest spent an average of 35 minutes engaged in the brand. Achieving this kind of impact for a few pennies per head meant everyone involved was on to a winner. It can work this well every time. If you have an inspired contractor that can accommodate multiple vested interests, maintain consistent open dialogue, and deliver a fantastic installation quickly and on budget, what is left for you to do? Maybe you could buy yourself a bigger calculator to work out your ROI, then start planning your next ambitious project while you frame the letters of thanks from new friends in Hollywood." Helix constructed two very different environments for the visitor journey