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Captive audience

By Wendy Helfenbaum | April 30, 2015
Captive audience
Sakchin Bessette

Moment Factory’s motto is “We do it in public.” No kidding. The Montreal-based new media arts and entertainment studio engages consumers by telling brand stories in museums, on building walls, at concerts, in airports – even in the middle of a forest. Moment Factory designs and produces multimedia environments for clients including the city of Barcelona, Cirque du Soleil, Madonna, Microsoft Corp., the National Football League and sports eyewear maker Oakley, Inc.

With more than 300 projects under its belt since it launched in 2001, the company has earned a global reputation for enhancing the customer experience. “We create a universe around our client, whether it’s an individual artist or a worldwide corporation,” explains Sakchin Bessette, Co-Founding Partner and Creative Director. 

Bessette sees the customer as an audience. “People are always looking to experience something new, whether it’s at a product launch or a rock concert,” he says. “As consumers, that audience spends money, but they also want to consume an experience and leave with memories, not just a product. If we create a great experience in Oakley’s flagship store in New York, people will most likely spend more time there and leave with more product.”

Moment Factory searches for concepts where the physical and digital worlds collide. “Our goal is to touch people, to create goosebumps and long-lasting memories,” Bessette says. “Creating something they’ve never experienced before engages people and creates connections between them.”

Moment Factory’s Sakchin Bessette on how to deliver a superior customer experience:

1. Build a culture of amazement

We started out as a couple of veejays working in nightclubs, and now we have 130 full-time people working in an industry that didn’t even exist then. We are all driven by a search for amazement. When people are driven by amazement, they’ll work as hard as they can to find something to change people’s customer experience. If you can create a sustainable culture in your company, it changes the way people think, and it’s contagious.

We’ve always done what we were really excited about. Along the way, there were many easier ways to make more money, but we didn’t choose those routes. We chose to be authentic, to be creative and to constantly innovate. That was a really good business decision because we’re known for quality, for our attention to detail, for caring deeply about our work and for pushing the limits of our medium to develop this industry.

2. Storytelling is the best way to reach any audience

Our clients call us to make people dream about their product, so that the mysteries or the world around that product will somehow be more evocative emotionally than the product itself. Storytelling gives you a through-line to your audience or your customer. Sometimes that story can be very abstract, but in all of our work we build stories, which determines our intensity curve through that type of experience – whether it’s a song for a rock show, an adventure in a forest or a branded experience. 

For example, when we work with an artist, we build a storyline around a song. Sometimes it’s not just about one moment; it can be built up through a 20-minute show or event. We think about the big, impactful elements that we’ll build up within that storyline – to break it down, build it back up, turn it left and right to create surprises, so people will be touched emotionally.

3. Want lasting customer relationships? Cut through the noise

There are so many touchpoints today, and companies need to be more authentic. You need to create experiences for your products that are more intense and more critical. You can’t just create pollution. Instead, make people say, “I want to see this or do this.”

I think brands have the responsibility to make the world a better place through their marketing communications and advertisements, and the experiences they create for people, even if it’s not directly related to their product. People are buying stuff online, and a lot of brands are coming to us and asking, “What can we do to attract people into our stores?” 

We think the solution is to create destinations out of malls that are driven by an enhanced experience. Look at malls as brand theme parks: if you have a critical mass of really crazy, experiential flagship stores, people will go there to spend the day because they will have a really strong experience.

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