How would you define a successful family experience?

On November 24th, 2010, posted in: different perspective, reports and case studies by

So here’s the first of a few posts that explore the themes within our latest report. But first, take a look at this viral video from Sesame Street based on another successful viral advert found here.

Over on tonic.com creators of sesame street had this to say

“We hope that we can think of everyone as a potential fan of Sesame Street, essentially from 2 to 92.” Ludwig says, “I think that the Old Spice spoof is a perfect example of where we have successfully created content that is actually engaging for people of any age, and when we can do that, then I feel like we really hit it.”

“The best thing that comes out of it all of this,” he says, the pride evident in his voice, “is that parents that may not have been doing so for one reason or another, are sitting down with their kids and watchingSesame Street.”

So, how does this link to the ‘Family & Smartphones report’? Well, it’s to do with family behaviour.

When we started the report our key objective was to see if  ‘Smartphones’ could be used to improve a ‘Family Experience’ at a museum. Therefore one of the key questions had to be around what visitors see as ‘successful family visit’. We had been prepared for a wide range of answers, what we hadn’t really appreciated was the correlation between the comments and the rating of the experience. For example, comments relating to poor family experiences tended to focus the lack of basic services. There is an expectation – a need even – for somewhere to park a stroller/pushchair or change a nappy. Once this is addressed  you start to find comments on the choice of food in the cafe, the level of space to run around or how ‘interactive’ the exhibits are – in other words, is the museum designed for children. But the holy grail of the museum family experience was often described as where  EVERYONE in the group is engaged/entertained/learning – adults and children alike. Just like the Sesame Street viral ad campaign, just like Shrek or the Simpsons. That shared experience where a family truly gets time to enjoy an activity together turns out to be very special.

So could smartphones help ‘improve’ the family experience? Through the process we realised a couple of things a) smartphones won’t help a cultural institution that doesn’t have basic facilities (although granted, it could help set the expectation before arrival). b) to develop a mobile experience that engaged just the junior visitors is lovely but in order to have a truly memorable experience you need to include the whole family. For TV producers this means getting the tone and level of content right for a very diverse audience. But for mobile experiences designed for museum this also means creating an experience that considers group dynamics, audience personalities, physical environment and interface.  This is where we see the opportunity, Smartphone technology – with larger high resolution screens and the potential for richer interactions, gaming and play  – can help us break free from the older, more individualistic, models of mobile interpretation.

Not rocket science – but an interesting element to ponder. How many cultural organisations are developing content for the whole family? And does mobile offer a different opportunity for them because of the nature of the medium?

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