Meta’s beach activation at Cannes 2022 touts creator power, brand collabs and a new approach to experiential
Imagination and innovation reigned supreme at the 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, where brands brought the themes to life through sprawling activations across the Croisette designed to entertain, educate and inspire the advertisers, marketers and creatives in attendance. A standout was Meta, sporting a (relatively) new name, and offering several immersive, metaverse-inspired activations, a vivid footprint and a fresh positioning as a fully experiential brand.
“We’ve had some pretty big changes over the last year,” Julie Hogan, Meta’s vp-global experiential and industry marketing told EM as we explored the activation on the ground. “Our experiences make up a huge component of how we represent Meta and how we want people to engage with our products and services.”
At this year’s festival, June 20-24, those experiences included a Reels SuperStudio, a Horizon Worlds experience via the Meta Quest headset; VR-driven immersive learning; a Ray-Ban Stories demo; and, for the first time, a showcase of WhatsApp’s tools for businesses (Agencies: Jack Morton; DeYan).
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The standout activation within Meta’s footprint was the Reels SuperStudio, a massive, indoor/outdoor studio space where attendees created video art using the different effects and features of Reels, Meta’s short-form video product. The structure’s rainbow-colored interior, designed by Argentinian-Spanish artist and popular Instagrammer Felipe Pantone, known for his use of bold colors, geometric patterns and graffiti art, served as the backdrop for the immersive videos.
Attendees watched tutorials and, with the help of a brand ambassador, paired Reel’s latest AR effects and transitions with their own movements. Inside the room and amidst Pantone’s “canvas,” users chose a storyline and then created short snippets that combined into a single narrative. Thanks to the vivid colors and geometric shapes of the artist’s designs, the effects made users appear to be walking directly into a wall and then emerging from it (see EM’s finished product below).
The space also incorporated self-tutorials, built into the studio’s exterior white walls, on how to make Reels shoppable with product tags in Instagram Live, Stories and Feed modes. On the way out, a “Tap to Shop” button released a free, Pantone-designed gift to take home. “This is a way for us to share how art and creativity are coming together through short-form video, which we believe is the future,” Hogan said.
The vision and long-term path for Meta is building the metaverse, Hogan said. But the creativity that Reels enables was a primary focus at Cannes. “We want to showcase the value for businesses and creators on our platforms. The Reels activation shows how creators are redefining the way art is brought to life and how you can reach new audiences and engage them and brands. Reels allows us to show the value today for businesses and brands on our platform, in addition to that vision for the future, which is the metaverse.”
At the second major activation at Meta Beach, Horizon Worlds, we donned a Meta Quest headset to check out Cloud Beach, a custom virtual world built specifically for Cannes Lions attendees. Our avatars—customized from an array of facial features, body types, skin colors, genders and outfits—could play volleyball, lounge in beach chairs or simply take in the scenic view, designed to look like the French Riviera.
Physically, we were alone with a Meta technician in a white-walled room while he guided us through the portal’s commands and helped us customize our avatars. But virtually, upon “arriving” at Cloud Beach, we were greeted by a guide who helped us maneuver the joystick, pick up objects, greet other avatars and send emoji bursts into the metaverse. If so inclined, attendees could also access other metaverse worlds via “portals,” such as Wendy’s Wendyverse, to get a sense of how brands are leveraging VR.
Back in the physical world, attendees could get a taste of additional branded metaverses debuting at the festival from Fender and MINI. Users could experience the worlds through AR technology as a way to tease the more expansive VR world that’s accessible with a headset.
Those worlds included the “Fender Stratoverse,” a guitar-shaped island surrounding by floating clouds, giant Fender guitar amps and floating planets. Users could participate in a co-play audio experience, create original riffs along with the community, collect sparkling, colored pics representing guitar chords, enjoy “air guitar zones,” participate in a scavenger hunt and explore the island.
Over in the MINIverse, players of a go-kart-like game could virtually maneuver MINIs around a track, create obstacles to flick off, block or speed up the vehicles, customize the cars with different colors and features, and compete with friends to reach the top of the leaderboard.
Meta Immersive Learning
Moving on to the next headset-driven experience: Meta Immersive Learning, a showcase of a multi-year, $150 million program with universities and other educational partners to promote learning in virtual reality.
Attendees experienced a 10-minute sample of a VR world representing the international space station, created by Felix & Paul Studios, to demonstrate the possibilities of education through cutting-edge technology tools. At Cannes, space was limited, but the complete virtual application, we learned, might take place within a high-school gymnasium, where students could explore the world freely and learn about space, astronauts and other such details.
In another example of immersive learning adjacent to the VR station, we explored a free-standing, forest-themed build using our phones. Hovering over various prompts scattered throughout triggered AR filters, revealing educational tidbits about animals and trees in the forest.
Beside the sprawling stage area where sessions took place throughout the week, festivalgoers tried out a Ray-Ban Stories activation, which demoed Meta’s first pair of smart glasses. Wearers took photos and video by either tapping the side of the frames or using the hands-free, voice command option to create content and share it directly to their social feeds. You could also listen to music and make phone calls, we learned, by using the command “Hey Facebook.”
For the first time at its Cannes activation, Meta pushed WhatsApp as a resource for brands and businesses, specifically its messaging capabilities, that can be used to start conversations. Attendees could engage with the platform by scanning a QR code to reserve one of several cabanas for a meeting through its concierge function; interacting with a WhatsApp chat bot to order beverages to be delivered or receive information on the activation’s hours, session times and activities; and responding to questions about personal interests, which the bot then interpreted into a piece of digital, impressionist art.
Photo credit: Luke Hayes