Bose: Mercedes AMG F1 Team virtual garage

Bose: Mercedes AMG F1 Team virtual garage

Synergy secured multiple awards including B2C Experiential Brand Campaign/Event of the Year & Best Sponsorship Activation/Event of the Year at The Drum UK Event Awards 2017 with its work alongside Bose. Here, the agency discusses the challenges and processes it overcame to win these awards.

Executive Summary

Could we transport fans closer to the things they love using sound and the power of their imaginations alone? Could this experience, which we called virtual aurality, be even more compelling than virtual reality?

To find the answers to these questions, we worked with our partner, the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team to re-create every inch of their garage as a rich and detailed soundscape. First, we captured the actual sounds of the garage over the course of five days at Silverstone using 12 ambisonic microphones. Next, we used RadarTouch technology to track the fans’ location and orientation. Finally, a custom-developed playback engine allowed Bose QuietComfort35 wireless headphones to deliver exactly the right sound into each ear depending on where they were, when they were there and which way they were facing.

We gave 3,800 fans complete, untethered freedom to explore the inner sanctum of the three-time World Formula One Champions just before a race. We created virtual aurality.

Challenges

Our challenge was to create an astonishing, world-first, live brand experience which demonstrated how Bose ‘gets you closer to the things you love’. In particular, we needed to showcase the Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones and their industry leading noise cancelling and wireless technologies.

Working with our partners, the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, allowed us to tap into the passion, exclusivity and reach of F1 to create an unforgettable experience for fans that could be amplified and shared.

The Garage is a multi-sensory, immersive experience that uses the power of sound to transport fans into the inner sanctum of the triple World Champions.

We used ambisonic and binaural microphones to capture the true sounds of the garage in fine detail. This audio soundscape was then recreated in a 360° projection mapped space. Finally, a custom-developed playback engine delivered exactly the right sound to each ear as the fan moved around the space.

The visitor to the garage had complete freedom to move around, untethered by wires. Guided by projections on the walls and floor of our blank-canvas space, visitors could take in all the sounds from Lewis and Nico’s garage during the final moments before the race. The experience culminated with Bose subbase units shaking the room as the car exited the garage.

We created a small attachment for standard QC35 headphones which contained a series of IMU, Xbee Bluetooth and Arduino chips. Paired with RadarTouch sensors in each garage, this allowed us to identify the user’s precise location and orientation (which way they were facing).

We layered all the sounds we captured from the garage and the binaural recordings of the conversations into a bespoke sound map. This gave every sound a source, both in terms of a location and a point in time. The playback engine then delivered the precise sound to each ear depending on the user’s location, when they were there and which way they were facing.

With users given complete freedom to move around the garage and the audio playback determined by their actions, no two experiences were ever the same.

While it was critical that sound remained the focal point, using other senses helped enhance the impact of the experience.

360 degree projection mapping was placed into our blank-canvas room and integrated into the tracking system and audio playback engine. The projections guided users by showing them the source location of the key sounds and came to life with bespoke animations as the related sounds were triggered by the users’ movements.

The experience was designed to last two minutes. As the count-down timer neared zero, a 3D projection of the car formed in the middle of the room. This ensured that the experience delivered a powerful climax as the user focused on the car and its departure from the garage. With Bose sub-bass speakers literally shaking the room, fans could feel the sound as well as hearing and seeing it.

The whole point of creating this experience was to bring F1 to the public; to show them how sound could take them somewhere they would never otherwise be able to go.

For that reason, the experience was located in a pop-up retail unit in Downtown Austin, giving us the chance to transport fans directly from the street into the Mercedes AMG Petrona​s Formula One Team’s inner sanctum. Alongside our ground breaking binaural experience, we also gave fans the chance to get up-close and personal with exclusive team memorabilia. Fans could take their picture with the iconic 2016 FIA World Championship winning F1 W07 to share across their social channels, while super-fans were rewarded with surprise and delight merchandise.

To bring the Garage Experience to a wider global audience, we created a unique depth film of the virtual garage (included on USB).

In the live experience, users controlled their sonic experience through their own movements. Without that freedom of movement, it was left to us to create a fixed fly-through the garage. By using the exact same binaural sounds and similar stylised animations, we were able to deliver an incredible experience to those who weren’t lucky enough to make it to Austin.

The film was released across Bose social channels following the US Grand Prix in Austin and, despite zero media spend, has already amassed over 250k views and 1.1m impressions. We will be backing the film with significant media spend as we roll out the campaign more aggressively next year.

Results

  • “You feel like you are in the actual Formula One Garage. You’re there, you know. It’s incredible.” - Nico Rosberg
  • “This experience goes a step beyond Virtual Reality. Very very cool.” - Lewis Hamilton
  • 3,866 visitors in Austin against a target of 1,000 with 100% positive feedback
  • 1,667 images shared from a Mercedes AMG Petrona Formula One Team show car photo booth
  • Two teaser films generated over 1m views and 5.3m impressions backed by a media spend of only $8.5k
  • A digital, binaural sound experience, released after Austin has so far generated 250,000 views and 1.1m impressions with no media support
  • Success has resulted in extensive plans to roll out the Bose Mercedes AMG Petrona F1 Team virtual garage to other key Bose markets in 2017.

The case study film can be viewed here: -

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