FRANK ROSE
DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION
& THE ART OF IMMERSION

Frank Rose is simply the most extraordinary expert in the entertainment and marketing fields and my most favorite thought leader on new forms of narrative.

Rose, a Senior Fellow at Columbia University School of the Arts, a member of the Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab, and faculty co-leader of its executive education seminar on digital storytelling strategy is also a longtime writer for Wired, strategy+business and author of The Art of Immersion.

Rose allows that every new digital medium has disrupted the grammar of narrative.

Frank’s seminal work on immersive storytelling and his new focus on The Science of Story, unlock the future for every brand to deliver today’s business value.

Follow FR if you want to know where your brand narrative should be heading, assuming you are leading your company toward transformational innovation and engaging people in these digitally disruptive times.

MARY OLSON: I often wonder where your appetite for new knowledge has taken you since 2012. What are your thoughts as you look back on the four years since publishing The Art of Immersion? How have your views changed?

FRANK ROSE: Well, obviously many of the TV shows I wrote about—Lost and The Office and Mad Men, among others—are no longer on the air, although their impact is still felt and their place in pop culture is pretty well assured.

Entertainment and marketing are if anything even more game-like and participatory than when I wrote the book.

Social media is more important than ever.

The big change is virtual reality and the incredible excitement it’s generated, even though most people still don’t even know it exists. Newspapers are jumping in— The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today.

Advertisers are jumping in. And it seems to be generating, even more, excitement for its storytelling possibilities than for games.

Obviously, VR is extremely immersive—that’s its appeal. But in other ways, it runs entirely against the grain of digital media as we’ve known it to date.

Yes, you can tweet about it, but there’s nothing inherently social about having your head encased in goggles. And unlike conventional video, it breaks completely with the grammar of cinema that was developed at the dawn of the motion picture industry. Cuts, pans, fades—none of these work in 360 videos.

There are some great pioneers at work—people like Eugene Chung at Penrose and Edward Saatchi at Oculus. I suspect it’ll be awhile—and to the extent that it’s adopted, will take us in a direction most people haven’t thought about.

MO: Your chapter, How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart includes philosophical and Zen-like views. Social culture and media narratives seem more and more delusional these days. How do you feel about the way the world is emerging?

FR: When I wrote that, I imagined the world of Disney and the world of Philip K. Dick [the American science fiction writer whose novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was the basis for Blade Runner] as opposites, in style if not necessarily in substance.

But the Walt Disney Company has evolved far beyond Walt himself, and the world is growing closer and closer to the highly disconcerting visions of PKD. A crypto-fascist reality TV star for president.

I suspect the purchase of Lucasfilm and the revival of the Star Wars franchise are going to bring these two closer together than ever. The differences in style will be minimized. And digital technology and the thirst for immersive experiences are only going to accelerate the process.

As I wrote in the book, digital technology blurs dividing lines that were considered sacrosanct in the industrial era—between author and audience, story and game, content and advertising, fiction and reality.

Who can tell the difference any more? That’s why we hunger for authenticity.

MO: The way businesses need to communicate is changing. Where is your journey taking you next?

FR: I’m very excited about my projects at the Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab — both the semi-annual executive education seminar Digital Storytelling Strategy, coming up on April 21, and the first annual Digital Dozen: Breakthroughs in Storytelling, which we announced in late January and followed up with a live event at Lincoln Center last month.

There’s also my blog, Deep Media, which chronicles new developments in storytelling, including some of my projects. Next up will be the DSS seminar focusing on “The Science of Story”. The first segment is titled, “Why Stories? Why Now?” and explains how stories are changing in response to digital technology and how immersion is more sought-after than ever.

“The Science of Story” follows up with an account of recent neuroscience and cognitive psychology research that demonstrates how compelling stories are at changing people’s beliefs and explains why that might be.

MO: Thank you, Frank. Your insights inform not only corporate strategists but watchful adopters, too. We all benefit from your futurist insights about how authentic stories transform people’s behaviors and inform digital marketing and transformative business models.

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Download a PDF of The Power of Immersive Media
The most successful advertising today convincingly takes on the qualities of real experience. By Frank Rose. Publisher: strategy + business on February 9, 2015.

Feel free to get in touch with Mary Olson or Frank Rose for further information.

Mary Olson
Email: maryolson@maryolson.biz
Phone: 917.656.1856
Blog: maryolson.biz/blog
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/maryolsonbiz
Twitter: @maryolsonbiz

Frank Rose
Email: frank@frankrose.com
Twitter: @frankrose
Website: The Art of Immersion – artofimmersion.com/
Blog: deepmediaonline.com/
Member: Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab
Digital Dozen: Breakthroughs in Storytelling
Senior Fellow: Columbia University School of the Arts
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/frankrose

REMARKABLE PEOPLE 2015
INSIDE MARKETING WITH LIZ NIGHTINGALE

My interview series, REMARKABLE PEOPLE 2015 includes experts in technology, the arts, marketing, and social good. It is an exciting group of creative thought leaders and enlightened personalities. Some are extraordinary examples of social responsibility; others are creating game-changing paradigm shifts in their market segments.

I recently had a chance to speak with Liz Nightingale, the ultimate expert in relationship marketing.

You can trace Liz’s marketing mindset to every touch-point of a brand experience. I mean, personally and emotionally direct to people.

It doesn’t matter if the market segment is B2C or trade. In the end, it’s people who respond to her remarkable marketing touch. A quick look into her magical toolkit reveals strategic planning, PR, advertising, brand marketing, emotional branding and brand experience.

Philosophies, processes and creativity are the driving elements of Liz Nightingale’s world of marketing. Although she has been the ultimate leader in luxury marketing from legendary brands to global influences, everything is about building and valuing relationships.

I asked Liz recently, “You are at the top of your game. Every brand you touch increases by double digits. What’s next?” She replied, “I envision opportunities to collaborate at the C-suite level with business visionaries who understand the value of relationships. Marketing has never been as competitive as it is today. But it is not just about appreciating how to simplify complexity or creating and managing data, but about understanding and creating a relationship with your market on a personal basis.”

Liz is the ultimate example of a professional who integrates a love of relationships with digital technologies.

A deep look into Nightingale’s world and you find a master strategist who loves creating world-class brands and building lasting relationships with customers—With digital data.

I mentioned the widely held belief in the marketing world that what you knew two years ago is no longer true today. Nightingale dispelled that notion with a twist when I asked, “What do you think about the impact of technology on C-suite marketing careerists?”

She said, “It is likely that the CMO role shortly will transition to the Chief Marketing Technologist. But, remember, CMT’s need interpersonal skills and a deep and authentic respect for people. Process-wise, relating to people won’t change.”

Liz Nightingale Profile (PDF)

Liz Nightingale on LinkedIn

New Rules of Branding, Marketing and Financial Performance

Businesses succeed or fail on the connection between branding, customer engagement and financial performance. Here is the formula that I have been discussing with clients recently:

Follow this guideline by understanding the business thoroughly and prioritizing branding as the key component to your business growth. Branding is the foundation of marketing. Marketing fulfills the mission statement and creates the customer experience. The customer experience creates the brand engagement, thus building brand equity. Brand equity contributes to P&L metrics like profitability and stakeholder value.