In a city wrought with yuppies yearning for the latest gizmos to telegraph their wealth, the Shanghai advertising industry is hoping to reap megabucks from new interactive media.
More daring and sexier advertising through such media is the latest way of tapping into China's younger and wealthier demographics, which is what creative marketing companies like Super Nature Design are doing now.
Super Nature was established last year in Jing'an Creative Park by Chinese Billy Wen and Malaysian-born Chinese Yeoh Gh and Cheang Lin Yew.
"Our philosophy focuses on delivering the idea, creating moments of engagement and encouraging audience participation rather than placing emphasis on conventional media methods to sell our final product," said 31-year-old Wen.
With Super Nature's major clients comprising international sport brands like Nike and Adidas, it is crucial that strategies be drawn from a psyche that can easily strike a chord with young people, added Wen.
"You need designers with young minds to understand what the young consumers want," he said.
Wen credits such a hip mindset to the success of the interactive media campaign he and his partners oversaw during last year's Beijing Olympic Games. The advertising gurus managed to draw out a massive crowd in an open square where the public participants eagerly held hands, swaying from side to side in trance-like unison. Meanwhile the world's largest-ever Coca-Cola bottle, reaching 15 m in height, was flanked by two giant LED screens playing electronic games.
It is exactly this type of activity that has given rise to the awareness of how powerful such interactive media campaigns can be. While such an industry is still in its early stages, the cost benefits of this type of advertising has not gone by unnoticed by other industry players who are increasingly investing more into these kinds of campaigns.
Governments, too, recognize the value of creative advertising, seeing it as more than novelty and capable of shaping the future of consumerism in an increasingly digitalized world. Municipal governments are going one step further and providing support in an effort to ramp up the city's creative parks through subsidies and other monetary incentives to help entrepreneurs who are long on talent but short on capital.
Still, the commercialization of interactive media in Shanghai needs time to develop and mature the market, said Wen.
"Local industries are more than welcome, but we don't see them often," he added. "They are not yet familiar with the idea of promoting themselves in a new and interactive way."
In an effort to bolster the popularity of such interactive trends and spread the word, the company is educating the general public through open exhibitions.
"We experiment with different exhibitions to make our work open to the public so we can test their reactions," said Gh, the company's creative director. He added that their 2008 interactive installation Beneath, featuring an underwater world, was warmly welcomed by children and seniors at the Shanghai International Science and Art Exposition.
In an office environment designed to spur innovative thinking, its modern simplicity and collection of green potted-plants is all about nurturing creative concepts from all possible angles.
"Every natural object is unique and it has a story to tell," said Cheang, the company's interactive director. "We take inspiration from everything and sometimes that can happen in just a second simply from appreciating the beauty around us."