When I was a little boy, my parents created a multi-sensory live event that completely freaked me out;
but it taught me an important lesson I use in my work to this day….
They were hosting a Halloween party for some older kids and had decided to set up a super scary Haunted House. They had an old spooky sound effects record playing with door creaks and witches cackling and wolfs howling in the distance. Finally it was my turn to go into the darkness. They were wearing bloody lab coats, at the doorway was dry ice bubbling in a bucket to create an eerie smoke and then, one by one, we were taken into a completely dark room. The suspense was terrible. As you waited to go in, you could hear kids occasionally screaming inside—and I noticed none of the kids seemed to be coming out.
Finally it was my turn to enter. I passed through spider webs as a spooky voice me told I was entering Dr. Frankenstein’s lab where he had been cutting up bodies to create his monster. This basement lair was dark and spooky and smelled like mold and mildew. I was guided to a table and told to put my hands into a bucket to feel the intestines of some of Dr. Frankenstein’s victims. It was gooshy and rubbery. I was told if I put my fingers in my mouth I could taste the blood. I thought why would I want to taste blood, but I couldn’t help it. I did taste the blood. It had a slight saltiness and an odd thickness to it. Then I was told to put my hand in a jar filled with human eyeballs. They were round and wet and squishy. I was trying to comprehend where in the world my parents had acquired a jar of eyeballs. I had never seen this evil side to them before.
Next, there was a dim red light on a severed hand sitting in a tray of ice. I was supposed to touch it. It looked so real. It even seemed to twitch once, but my parents assured me I should touch it. So I slowly and carefully reached out my finger. I could feel the coolness of the ice—it was so creepy. Then suddenly the hand came alive and grabbed my hand. I not only screamed, but I burst into tears completely freaked out. My parents had become horrible, murderous, evil people. But then they turned a flashlight on and showed me the secrets to their scary world.
“…my first immersive, live event experience that truly included all five senses and one secret ingredient. A secret ingredient we all need to bring to our live multi-sensory events: IMAGINATION!”Barry Rinehart, Executive Creative Director, MIG
The intestines were just pasta in a salty milk, the eyeballs were peeled grapes, and the hand was attached to a kid hiding under the table who was now laughing at me. I couldn’t help but laugh too. My parents had just given me my first immersive, live event experience that truly included all five senses and one secret ingredient. A secret ingredient we all need to bring to our live multi-sensory events: IMAGINATION!
It’s been proven that when you combine three or more sensory inputs in a communication, a brand’s impact to an audience will increase by 70% – that’s huge! However, merely making something multi-sensory isn’t enough. Without imagination, (and some clever strategic thinking about the experience we want to create for an audience) we will just be creating sensory noise. It’s the imaginative strategic thinking and execution of these unique multi-sensory inputs that will ultimately make these experiences exhilarating and unforgettable.
Thanks, Mom and Dad, for the blood-curdling tip — I think I’m finally ready to forgive you!
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