I’m not suggesting the Spice Girls join Fortnite, but….
One little Instagram reel and suddenly I'm hopeful for their return
I really love the Spice Girls, NO SHAME, and wish I could experience the joy of their performances again. You may know that they recently released a 25th-anniversary edition of Spice World. I actually didn’t know until I saw this video.
When I think about the coolest innovations in the metaverse space, the use case for Millenial women (of which I am one) seems tenuous. What would make a group known for sharing on Instagram and consuming on TikTok while balancing careers, partners, kids, dogs, etc., want to join an immersive online experience?
The answer. Icons slaying. Fun jams, a bit of nostalgia, high fashion, and GIRL POWER. And maybe even Pepsi again?
The TLDR of this is – (for those fans who complain (probably rightly so) about the length of my newsletter)
Let’s redefine immersive. Fans will surround themselves with the story. Imagine me, on TikTok, starring in an AR video version of Wannabe. Admit it. You’re into it.
People like friction. “Step to Me” is only a fan-fave song because it’s hard to find—the Birkin of songs.
People like velvet ropes. Give people an opportunity to self-segment and immerse themselves with like-minded individuals. Easter eggs allow for inclusive exclusiveness.
Avatars slay. Just ask ABBA.
What an opportunity for a sponsor. Pepsi, you owe me one.
OK- now for the whole shebang, my dreams for the Spice Girls return- an immersive, post-internet experience. An argument was made that T Swift is creating a metaverse, which asks - what does an immersive space mean? It definitely does not have to mean VR. And maybe not even AR. To me, it means pan-internet, pan-IRL, a 360 experience of the brand or creator, touching your daily life in novel and traditional ways. It means the experience with T Swift is EVERYWHERE.
I was also inspired by Deux Moi, the crowdsourced celeb gossip account. This article here does what I’d call an imaginary case study of DM’s clever community marketing techniques. For a site that’s primarily fan-submitted content, an engaged community is huge.
And lastly, I think about ABBA. Their avatar concert experience has been well-loved by fans and critics, a crazy example of what you can do if you let your imagination (and Industrial Light & Magic) run wild.
Whew, my brain hurts with all this thinking.
What can I take from each of these to create an experience that would delight me, connect me further with the Spice Girls, and take some money out of my (virtual) wallet?
Let’s redefine immersive.
Immersive means it’s coming from all angles and along a time continuum. This is what T Swift taught me. She’s famous for Easter Eggs and coded messages, leaving pieces of information for true fans to understand. The Midnights album release press started with billboards in major cities with just a few lyrics showing up at… midnight. A huge part of me wishes David’s video was a tease, despite Posh’s avowal that she’s not coming back. But this could’ve been the start of a multi-channel campaign of imagery and messaging.
The key is multi-channel, both online and IRL, see EVERYWHERE. But it’s not straight media. It’s experiences with a give and take between fans and the “girls”/their IP. Obviously, social media plays a huge role, as would Out of Home, much like TayTay. Ideally, you’d mix in AR, the pokemon go of Spice Girls moments across iconic locations from the Spice World film, or fashion filters to recreate the most iconic looks (including that amazing hairstyle with the random perfectly straight tendrils hanging forward). Imagine the co-creation once you mix in AR. I would LOVE to put myself as Baby Spice in the Wannabe music video. Imagine the TikToks…. For a creator group with such a breadth of IP, finding ways to weave it into current mediums would be a treat. Of course, like many musicians before, they could do Fortnite, but I wouldn’t say it feels “on brand.”
People like friction.
I’ve written about this before, but great consumer experiences and purchases need friction. We are programmed to want something more if we can’t get it. The Spice World 25th anniversary album includes “fan favorite” "Step To Me," originally the soundtrack to a 1997 Pepsi campaign where fans were required to collect twenty pink ring pull tabs from cans in return for a four track "not in the shops" CD single. Let me assure you of something. This is not a fan favorite in terms of musical quality. If it’s a fan favorite, it’s because it is hard to come across, and doing so increases the song’s perceived value.
People like velvet ropes.
From the Inc article, they call it a “digital version of a speakeasy: You had to be one of the cool kids who knew where it was even to have a chance at getting in.” As an example, back to TSwift, the unbranded lyric billboards only work if you’re at least a little in the know. The idea of easter eggs, so prevalent in gaming, which are coded messages dripped across different mediums, provides a way for fans to feel included because of their knowledge, even though the actual barrier to inclusion is only their devotion. If you see this tube top in the window of Selfridges or Bloomingdales with a QR code or cryptic message, you know something good is coming.
This velvet rope delineates where community happens. Fans find their way onto the platforms with the most vibrant theorizing and fangirling, whether that’s Reddit or TikTok or whatever. You can only get to “immersive” if fans opt-in; otherwise, you’d be buying every option for media and PR known to man. But for followers/members/holders, they’re ready to dive in and/or be targeted and experience the lead-up wholeheartedly.
You don’t have to be in person for it to be AMAZING. Posh doesn’t have to come back. While the Abba avatars appear in a physical venue, and that opportunity to experience the community feeling of a concert is currently irreplaceable, you can see opportunities for VR experiences as well that would expand the access base.
For those of you who haven’t been to the ABBA museum in Stockholm, I highly recommend it, as ABBA have been playing with the avatar idea for years. I wish I could dig up the video of me standing on stage, playing the role of Agnetha, but I’ll spare you. Avatars provide a way to extend the group’s star power, entities to interact with, to watch perform, and even to identify with, e.g., as personalities/physicalities to inhabit in metaverse worlds.
What an opportunity for a sponsor.
Talk about slaying. I’d love for Pepsi to reconnect with the group over this “metaverse” experience. The Generation Next of co-branded experiences, if you will.
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