Dept

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A distinctive branded experience for de Bijenkorf

by Mellissa Flowerdew-Clarke

De Bijenkorf is the most well known department store in the Netherlands. It is a place to be Admired and Adored. That one-of-a-kind sensation embodies everything de Bijenkorf stands for and serves as the ideal theme for a holiday campaign in 2021. Dept, Dogstudio, and de Bijenkorf have collaborated to create a magical, branded experience that digitally brings de Bijenkorf's wonderful shopping experience to life in this Admire & Adore campaign.

Digitally bringing an exclusive experience to life

Together with de Bijenkorf, we embarked on a quest for an experience defined by inspiration and awe. This is how we came up with the concept of a meticulously constructed 3D world in which visitors are guided through a magical forest and past exquisite, handcrafted products.

Design: from idea to reality

We transformed a visual and interactive concept into a magical commerce experience that combines 2D and 3D elements through art direction, a storyboard, and inspiration from fairy tales and surrealism.

Technology: from concept to immersive three-dimensional

To translate all of the creativity into a fluid experience, 2D illustrations of the forest are layered within a 3D world. This world is completely rendered in WebGL, and the bee flies through it in three dimensions, passing all products.

Alluring features scattered throughout the campaign

The experience's magical quality begins earlier with a video teaser on social media and surprising forest-related elements on de Bijenkorf's website. For instance, the bee flies to debijenkorf.nl unexpectedly, and the visitor is redirected to the campaign website when they click on the bee.

A one-of-a-kind experience brought to life digitally

De Bijenkorf is the Netherlands' most surprising, inspiring, and creative department store, where everyone is treated as an individual. Additionally, the department store sells online in a number of countries throughout Western Europe. De Bijenkorf seduces with its style, inspires with its beauty, and inspires a desire for lovely things to spoil yourself or someone else. Dept was tasked with bringing this unique and personal shopping experience to life digitally in collaboration with de Bijenkorf's digital marketing and e-commerce teams.

Together, we embarked on a quest for an experience that transcends conventional shopping routes; a quest for an experience defined by inspiration and wonder. Because that is when magic occurs. How did we accomplish that? By transporting the visitor into a meticulously constructed three-dimensional world, accompanied by a bee that awakens in the winter and embarks on a journey of discovery through an enchanted forest. The bee leads us through rustling leaves, whispering trees, and brilliant light, marveling at the luxuriously presented products and inspiring us to feel the same way.

From concept to manifestation

We created a magical forest, exclusive products, and a flying bee for de Bijenkorf's digital experience. We explored how we could shape this into a user-friendly and enchanting story where commerce, brand, and magic all come together.

What is the initial step toward magic? During flight, the bee leaves a trail of sparkles behind. We collaborated with Myriam Wares - an illustrator known for her experiences with surreal environments - on the forest illustrations. Additionally, we made deliberate colour choices to avoid exact replication of the forest, but to add a surreal and magical touch. As with a real forest, we see how the forest lives in the digital experience. For example, leaves sway up and down in response to the visitor's cursor movement. The audio has been considered as well; throughout the experience, we are surrounded by familiar forest sounds. Additionally, when we fly past an owl, for example, we hear it.

The ten products featured in the campaign were chosen with care for their vibrant and reflective prints that stand out even in the woods due to their high-end feel. Additionally, they are not haphazardly placed in the forest, but flow into it and become a part of it, from a dress worn by a bush to boots held up by butterflies. Subtle hints to Christmas tree ornaments — which are available at de Bijenkorf — are also illustrated and incorporated into the forest, such as a ladybug on a tree. Finally, we tie the products together with a narrative. We create a fairytale-like story with ten short sentences that always appear in the context of a new product, immersing the visitor even more in the flight through the enchanted forest.

From conceptualisation to immersive 3D

We came a long way thanks to the designers' taste and direction and a well-thought-out storyboard. However, much work must be done behind the scenes to translate all of this creativity into a successful experience.

The products featured in the campaign were photographed in front of a green screen in the exact poses they appear in the magical forest. Thus, the branches and trees that connect the products are imitated in the photo studio to achieve the most realistic result possible. They were then cut out and enhanced with light and contrast before being placed in digitally painted forest scenes by an illustrator. By layering all of these illustrations, which are 2D assets, and employing motion, we were able to create a 3D world that scrolls in a parallax effect. The bee is completely rendered in 3D in this setup, ensuring that it appears as realistic as possible from all angles. After loading Javascript, the 3D model is converted to code that is rendered using WebGL. Visitors can create a wishlist of all products displayed throughout the digital experience. This is automatically synced with their debijenkorf.nl wishlist. Even if visitors are not logged in, the wishlist is stored locally anonymously and added upon logging in or creating an account — entirely in keeping with de Bijenkorf's unburdened style.

The campaign is available on desktop and mobile via a subdomain and is available in all languages in which De Bijenkorf operates, including Dutch, German, and French.

Attractive features revolving around the campaign

Not only did de Bijenkorf commission us to create the digital experience, but the department store also wanted to hint at the campaign website via a striking and surprising element: the bee. As a result, we created a script for the 3D variant of the bee, which was later added to debijenkorf.nl by developers from de Bijenkorf. The script includes methods and settings that enable developers to make custom adjustments, such as determining where the bee should and should not fly on the website. When a visitor clicks on the bee, an animation begins that redirects the visitor to the campaign's website. Additionally, a teaser video for social media is part of the campaign's allure. Throughout the campaign, the magic reappears to entice visitors without giving too much away.

Collaboration: the new frontier

We took on the challenge of creating something new, which we accomplished through an extremely strong and productive collaboration. Not only were Dept and de Bijenkorf involved in this, but also the undisputed leader in 3D, web, and immersive campaigns: Dogstudio. Dept and de Bijenkorf are responsible for the Admire & Amaze campaign's concept and style direction. All three parties collaborated closely on the creation of a storyboard and subsequent elaboration. With the proper dedication, space has been created for all parties to impart their own creative stamp on the final product while adhering to the briefing's guidelines. Regular check-ins, continuing to challenge one another, open communication, and flexibility on all sides has resulted in the purest form of co-creation, transcending the traditional division of roles between clients and contractors.

The pinnacle of brand experience

What began as an open question, "can you create something magical for the holidays?" evolved into a magical, innovative, and one-of-a-kind experience. This digital spectacle instills a sense of wonder in each online store visitor and contributes to de Bijenkorf’s mission to inspire. Together with de Bijenkorf, we created the Admire & Adore campaign, a phenomenal branded experience that elevates the brand to new heights.

Experience the campaign for yourself

Tags

Design
christmas campaign
Experience Design
Campaign
commerce
immersive design

Clients

De Bijenkorf