Featured image for Short Ideas Blog Post 3 on in–store visuals

Case Study: In–Store Visuals… The Method Masquerading As A Genre

In–Store Visuals

At first glance, In–Store Visuals sounds like a genre of video. We can all picture the sorry little product display marooned on a plinth by the escalator of a busy department store, back when staff had to keep an eye on rewinding the VCR tape if they weren’t lucky enough to have an auto–rewind function built into the machine. The quality quickly degenerated from the endless replays and the result would inevitably look a bit down–market. Now, there have been some compelling advancements with complex playlists looping all kinds of content into a vital array of marketing messages, product features, abstract eye candy, mood or tone setting material, and anything else you can imagine. In–Store Visuals claim an important role in the larger category of Location–Based Offline distribution.

Let’s take a look at a few examples I’ve been able to find online from Doc Marten’s, Bang & Olufsen and Apple.

Doc Marten’s

[youtube id=”owtZcjWC1BQ” width=”200″ height=”114″ wmode=”transparent” showinfo=”1″ autohide=”0″ quality=”auto”]

The Doc Marten’s video follows the genre type of a Commercial with an animation style to inform viewers about the product, implying that the construction features are desirable and worthy of purchase. The execution features some unpleasant repetition, as the camera returns to the same “starting point” position after showing each feature. It is best to avoid repetition without a payoff (eg. a scare in a horror film or a laugh in a comedy), as it is likely unnecessary and therefore sits wrong with the viewer — we instinctively know when something doesn’t belong, reacting often with confusion, irritation or boredom. In this case, I would imagine the repetitive motion could get quite annoying when you see it multiple times while you wait to buy some shoes, but in fairness I never saw it in the store.

Bang & Olufsen

[vimeo id=”12422392″ width=”200″ height=”114″ wmode=”transparent” title=”1″ byline=”0″ portrait=”1″ hd=”1″]

The Bang & Olufsen video employs some graphic abstraction, which I suspect was intended as a tonal application to enhance the in–store retail design and enhance brand presence. It’s purposefully not promoting a product or service, nor is it informative, and largely serves as any ident that you would encounter on a broadcast network.


[vimeo id=”3218976″ width=”200″ height=”114″ wmode=”transparent” title=”1″ byline=”0″ portrait=”1″ hd=”1″]

[vimeo id=”44340037″ width=”200″ height=”114″ wmode=”transparent” title=”1″ byline=”0″ portrait=”1″ hd=”1″]

Naturally, Apple sets the bar for retail visuals. Judging by the content, the ‘iBooks’ video is from the early 2000s and is a seamless looping video. It combines a complex combination of effective branding, product advertising and product demonstration. These go an extra distance with interactivity, as the description explains the video was played on the computer itself. The ‘2011 Apple Genius Bar Animation’ is an extremely impressive development that runs through these same criteria but with a prominent educational element that employs the viewer’s curiosity and educational attentiveness to disarm resistance to the implicit branding and sales messaging as they create desire for their range of products.

Implications of In–Store Visuals

In–Store Visuals have no inherent direction that the content should go — anywhere from behind the scenes manufacturing footage to colourful abstraction — which catapults it into a full–fledged method of distribution, albeit closed–circuit and offline. They can inform, entertain, educate, demonstrate, or anything else you can think of, so this method has an incredibly versatility of function — but it often has a quite restrictive technical criteria that can be a major complication (or opportunity).

Comparison of In–Store Display Configurations

In–Store displays can be mounted vertically or in multi–monitor configurations that increase complexity immensely. These can mean extremely large resolutions, unique aspect ratios or bizarre shapes that aren’t rectangular at all, and require dedicated hardware to map the image across the different displays. While this may not appear to concern you at a creative stage, it can be incredibly important as you’ll benefit by considering how the material you are creating will be framed. In the simplest scenario of using a sideways monitor, you may need to shoot with a camera mounted sideways, otherwise you could be in a situation of having to stretch up the video’s resolution to fit the monitor, which will look soft and likely be difficult to find a new composition that works. On the up side, a portrait—oriented monitor allows you to frame the human body MUCH easier, and is perfect for things like catwalk footage, allowing clothing retailers to show their wares in motion.

Bizarre frame shapes can be difficult to work with, but a little low–fi ingenuity can go a long way. I was once tasked with making stills of a group of people for a Facebook page so that the larger banner area had most of the group and one person appeared in the little profile picture. I needed this to line up perfectly, and then do enough different versions to feature each person. I screen–captured a Facebook page and printed it out to a size that matched our monitor, then cut out the spaces where each face should be. I overlaid this on the monitor and used it as a guide to make sure that everyone lined up perfectly. The planning was time–consuming, but then the execution went smoothly.

Another complexity can be that there is rarely sound used with in–store displays, as the store will have its regular audio experience on the tannoy. This leaves you three main options, (1) subtitling any necessary audio, (2) designing the video so that no audio component is required, or (3) building any text in as a graphic element that is nicely integrated into the video.

As always, clarity of purpose of the video is critical, as there are additional options not usually employed with other methods of distribution, such as tonal or atmospheric applications. In–Store Visuals are a fantastic outlet for abstract or playful imagery that suggests seasonal interests but emphasises colour and form rather than a logical message, such as images of colourful parasols rotating or ice-cream melting in time-lapse. For creatives, this is a great outlet for creating visually driven soft–touch videos, as while being on–brand is extremely important, the need for branding per se is often reduced because the physical location where the video is viewed (ie. in the store) is abundantly branded.







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