Omnichannel Art – Imagining the Future of Packaging

Wandering down Orchard Street in the Lower East Side in Manhattan, my husband and I were drawn towards a vibrantly colored artwork in the Van der Plas gallery, one of many springing up in the area.  Translucent globules played on the surface giving it a 3-dimensional sensation. A spaceman sat cross-legged at the bottom of the picture, deep in contemplation.  We loved the optimistic colors and fascinating shapes but what happened next took this artwork into a different time and space!

A young woman from the gallery approached, held her phone up to the work and it came to life. The stream of consciousness depicted from the spaceman heading towards the sky became a swirling ball, like an oracle. A provocative set of words leapt out in front of the picture. What did they mean?

This piece by Erin Ko, entitled "Meditation", existed not just in the gallery, but online too. Each time you hold the eKo ART app to the photo, whether online or in-person, it will speak to you in a different way. The artist can keep communicating with you remotely by subtly changing the artwork.  It lives.  It isn’t finished.  It’s provocative as well as contemplative. It builds intrigue. Will what I see charm me or challenge me?

Coming from a pet food marketing background, the power of packaging has always been something that has interested me: it’s a tactile 3D ad that contains the heart of a brand in the product itself. What if packaging could be used to create an ongoing dialogue with people?  Imagine a cereal box giving you a good start to the day (feeding your brain as well as your body) by providing a 5-minute meditation on something intriguing. Or how about if your Pepsi can deliver up-to-the-minute news?

This isn’t the same kind of interaction you might get from a QR code or going onto a microsite. The interplay between on- and offline creates a new space. The artist has the power to constantly reinvent and surprise. Whilst content marketing has become the new mantra, this type of omnichannel content has the power to take the brand/customer relationship to a new dimension.

Yes, we did buy ‘Meditation’.  And it has already given me plenty to contemplate.