Placemaking – the next big opportunity for marketers?

Guest Post by Kylie Boyd Placemaking is a relatively new term usually reserved for a mix of urban planning, urban design and community building skill sets applied to improve public space. So why should marketers take note of this emerging idea? It’s simple – your customers are rapidly changing where and how they live, and it creates a new opportunity for brands to become meaningful in this space.


Global populations are quickly gravitating toward urban centres. It’s predicted that by 2050, 70 per cent of the world’s population will be living in cities. This trend has raised the question: how will cities fit more people in them while still maintaining a high quality of life for all? Some suggest that while city landscapes will inevitably get denser, it’s the quality of public space, and the way we interact and move around within it that will define our quality of life and sense of community.


While 2050 is still a few years away, we’re already seeing the effects of a larger urban population closer to home.  Sydney is the most densely populated city in Australia, and an increasing number young people are choosing to travel via public transport, and 92 per cent of journeys around Sydney’s city centre are made on foot. There is a huge opportunity for brands to review how they engage the smartphone-carrying public as their travel habits change.


Marketing managers have been experimenting with branding in public space for the last few years, but the field is still in its infancy. For example, there are various retailers such as Tesco, Woolworths and Net-a-porter using QR and NFC technology to trial interactive shop fronts on streets and in stations, but it will be interesting to see how these trials evolve into a more functional idea.


Having a presence in the public space is not all about creating pop-up storefronts. Branding public transport has worked well for Citi Group who has created heightened brand awareness and possibly a new database of customers by partnering with NYC Bike Share to create Citi Bike. Or how about the interactive street sign developed by design studio Breakfast, which updates directions based on Twitter trends and check-ins? Brands collaborating with functional signage is a huge opportunity for brands wanting to communicate with street foot traffic in a much more useful way than traditional advertising.


So what’s next? Will we see Coke use it’s ‘happiness’ brand promise to help rejuvenate tired looking city streets? Will Apple partner with governments to produce more user-friendly communication for commuters? These conversations will need to focus on improving functionality and experience, rather than simply introducing branded surfaces, and be mediated by local councils & government, but there are a whole host of opportunities out there, and it’s exciting to see experiments starting to happen.



Kylie is a marketing campaign officer who is passionate about the role of sustainability and culture within urban space.



Run your in-store marketing like a blog. (Video Post)


Have you thought about how in-store content can help with your customer experience? In-store editorial allows you to feature products in a way that is much more engaging than traditional in-store advertising. Content is a discovery point for your brand that can lead to increased time in the store, repeat visits, incremental sales and a high conversion rate. The most important thing to remember is that in-store content should centre around mobile. Mounted displays/tablets are a great way to start the engagement but it should flow seamlessly into a mobile experience. Below is a simple example of how interactive content can flow to mobile engagement within fashion retail. This example includes a curated shopping cart based around a styled look. The fashion stylist becomes the shopping cart curator turning the payment process into a customer experience.



The need for Authenticity in Innovation (or don’t eat sushi with a fork)


Guest post by Madeleine Gasparinatos  At a creative innovation conference held earlier this year in Sydney, Hollywood Art Director Jeffrey Julian said “You can eat more sushi with a fork. But it would be wrong”. Julian went on to say “…don’t innovate for innovation sake. Remember ceremony”.

When thinking about innovation and the need for authenticity, his words have stuck in my mind.

It begs the question - how are we really making technology work for us on a day-to-day basis? It’s becoming clearer that we need to harness its ability for making real, personal, cultural and creative connections.

Last month a two-day summit was held at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence. Called the Indigenous Digital Excellence Agenda (IDEA) the summit brought together nearly 40 emerging and established Indigenous leaders to co-create a nation where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders can thrive in the digital world. Through a series of workshops and learning processes, participants were asked to come up with ideas to work towards Indigenous digital excellence.

What came out of the summit were ideas that were able to grasp current technology and make it work for communities. Some of the ideas included Blackfella Enterprises – an initiative aiming to sensitively and appropriately commercialise traditional cultural knowledge. Through new digital social enterprises, elders and young people would work together to revitalize and strengthen culture and to bring economic independence. Another example is Doris – a playfully named Indigenous search engine (Doris means to have a bit of yarn) that helps people find authentic Indigenous content. The search engine would use filters and approval processes developed by Indigenous people and maintained through community legitimacy.

There was also a lot of discussion about language apps – preserving the hundreds of languages across the nation, or welcome to country apps, so people can geo-locate where they are on an Indigenous nations map and understand past and present history of the land. What was missing and what was encouraging to see is that people weren’t looking for the next best thing in technological advances. They were thinking about making the current technology benefit them in greater ways.

Looking at this approach from an entirely different angle, technology allows us to work from home, interstate or overseas with minimal fuss. But is it worth it? Yahoo! doesn’t think so. Earlier this year Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer asked for all those working from home to resume an office routine. In the memo that went out to all staff it noted that “To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings… Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home…”. Whilst this may have been dramatic and left some staff disgruntled, maybe Marissa has a point – are we innovating for the sake of innovating? Just because we can work from home doesn’t mean we should. The real magic can happen through connections and whether they be online or offline they have to be authentic enough to work.

So when thinking about your business, technology or your daily routine, don’t innovate for the sake of it. Remember ceremony and don’t ever each sushi with a fork.


Madeleine Gasparinatos is a digital media strategist, events manager and brand consultant who has worked with companies including NCIE, Portable Studios and Das Monk.

Forget about R&D and head to the Art Gallery


Many great ideas around human and computer interaction start with modern artworks. Businesses are interested in the idea of experiential marketing and promoting their product through emotional connections. Art is a platform that can explore this with no limitations as it focuses only on the experience without any commercial obligations.  Media Art is also highly interactive and can be a sneak peak at future trends that will transcend into commercial markets.

I have always been interested in the link between art and business. The level of human engagement with technology is inspirational as it develops the cultural environment for new commercial technologies.  I have to be careful who I discuss this with as creating new commercial products is certainly not the intention of most artists. However, both business and art have a role to play when it comes to influencing modern culture. Where art challenges the idea, commercial endeavours have the power to reach the masses.

This week in Sydney there is an art project that is very fitting.  Artists James Brown and George Khut are taking over the old Gucci Store on George Street for their interactive art work: THETA LAB.

"The aim of the project is to explore new contexts for aesthetic interactions, and to document the range of experiences afforded by this unusual form of human-computer interaction"

This art work explores new ways of human-technology interaction by combining neuro-feedback with participatory art, electronic music and ‘slow design’.  This is very much my area of interest when it comes to retail engagement and software application engagement. With art works such as THETA LAB, the R&D lab is becoming the pop-up art gallery.

THETA LAB opens runs from Friday 7 June 2013 - Monday 10 June 2013 

136 George Street, The Rocks, Sydney, NSW, 2000, Australia

Feature image from:


Jon McFarlane Co-Founder, QuayPay

'The web is getting physical' and Jon has a passion for helping  clients use web technology for engaging in the physical world.

Twitter: @Jonathanaca Linkedin: