Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Take That: And out of darkness of the audience comes the light of the community

Oh, alright it sounds a bit cheesey - but hell, I started thinking about this while watching Take That at the O2 arena. If ever there was a case for cheese begatting cheese, then this was it.

Yes, I admit it, I was one of the very few straight men at Take That on Friday. I'm not ashamed.
I'm not a convert to their music. I'm not about to rush out and buy the back catalogue. And I was only there because my wife's friend was ill.
But the event, the experience? Unmissable.

And it turns out, it was grist for the mill of this blog, too. How so?
1. Engagement Marketing as right experience.
2. Community emerging from audience
3. The blurring of online and offline realities.

The O2 (see I've already started calling it that...) is an awesome venue. 16,000 seater. Giant. Not the kind I usually enjoy. I pointed out the gap between the stage and the audience to my wife. It looked like an insurmountable void. How would performers reach out to connect, I mused, as the arena filled up.

It turned out they didn't need to. Audiences don't passively wait to receive. They reach out too. It's why the crowd buys so many luminous things to wave in their darkness. They are reaching out - saying "I'm here, I'm part of this - I am a participant". It's why we wave mobile phones - and way back when, why we waved lighters.

Live concerts perhaps were never an audience experience - they were always a community experience - complete with 'all together now' singalongs.

It's what O2 realised when it bought the white elephant of the Dome and made it the wonderful experience it has become. That experience goes down to every member of the team. We ate in a chinese ahead of the gig, within the 'dome'. Staff persued us down the stairs after we had eaten to ask us what we thought. They were ensuring the experience was all we'd hoped.

As we entered the venue and a few searches were carried out, they were done by people wishing us a great evening.

As we left the venue we were expertly guided to ensure footfall flows never jammed - and again every member of staff hoped we'd enjoyed ourselves. It's a consistent and compelling message.

BUT, I'm a big Bowie fan. And when my mate (who works for O2) told me he'd played there in November I asked why I hadn't known. "You're not on O2 are you?" No I'm not. But now 02 has just pissed me off. Signing up with them would now feel a little like having too - because they are holding me to ransom over access to the Dome.

Since they are also holding us to ransom over the I-Phone (and I'm told that's a very long term deal) I suspect I'm going to feel extremely, reluctantly coerced into signing next time around. Hmmm.

And the blurring of offline and online... fantastic video imaging which merges with real life action on the stage... could it be magic? (sorry).


The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?