The impact of social media on consumer behavior and real-time advertising was the subject of much discussion during Advertising Week last week, underscored by the involvement of a number of key companies—from Facebook and MySpace to Foursquare and Google—at events and panels. Indeed, to articulate the offerings of its medium, YouTube hosted an event on October 5 at Skylight at the McKittrick Hotel, the first corporate entity to use the experiential space of Punchdrunk's Sleep No More for a private outing. About 200 guests, clients of YouTube and and parent company Google, as well as other heavyweights in the advertising industry, attended the evening reception, which sought to communicate the similarities between the theatrical production and the video-sharing Web site.
Since opening in April, Sleep No More has been lauded for its choose-your-own-adventure approach, allowing its audience to explore the 100,000-square-foot site however they please, in a sense, curating their own personal version of the show. Similarly, YouTube believes digital platforms—especially its own—create interactive, not passive, experiences, in which users participate in the process, generating content and driving traffic through sharing with other users. And as such, the event, overseen by Mark Sabec, YouTube's product marketing manager, and Jacqueline Badzin, Google's events manager of product marketing, was designed to illustrate the importance of seamlessly integrating advertising into that space. (Think Old Spice's viral campaign last year with Isaiah Mustafa.)
The venue itself—disorienting, immersive, and almost entirely free of outside distractions—was an ideal environment for the video hub to focus the attention of guests and get its message across. The idea was explained in a brief presentation by YouTube executives early in the evening, as everyone crowded into the central gathering point, the Manderlay Bar. The rest of the night was given over to the show and its actors, with guests free to take in the production, grab drinks from the bar, and nibble on passed bites.