In theory, today’s consumer-driven insights must find ways to reach decision makers at a visceral level. Engaging the five senses in transportive learning allows stakeholders to truly walk in the shoes of the consumers they serve.

In practice, immersion techniques are finding their way into organizations to engage and create empathy among multi-functional teams, from leadership to the frontline. Walk-throughs, true-to-life ‘sets’ that replicate consumer lifestyles and the way they live, and simulated experiences are just a few techniques that bring consumers to life for stakeholders.

These authentic and dynamic physical environments ignite the senses with tactile learning. By humanizing insights in these ways, lingering empathy inspires meaningful conversation and allows decision makers to act on that empathy.

But what about when the insights aren’t about “consumers” at all? What if they require a deep understanding of humans from which to create authentic portrayals of the characters that step into the living rooms of millions of viewers every day? And, just as vital, how could these viewers truly feel themselves in these characters?

This was the mission of one television network.

Stepping into the Lives of Military, Spiritual, and Working-Class Americans

Great television shows are not only built on great narratives, but reflect the societal and cultural landscape of their audiences. In the wake of the 2016 general election, themes of polarization and disenfranchisement led our client to recognize that they had an opportunity to ensure their lineup was representing the realities of life for millions of American viewers.

Key stakeholders partnered with us to weave primary research insights and cultural trends into carefully staged immersive spaces that explored key groups of the population: military, spiritual, and working-class Americans. Rather than presenting the insights and subsequent implications through typical means, they brought their stories to life using hands-on experiences, documentary-style videos, and infographical journeys that captured the lives of these groups. Three different spaces leveraged the senses of sight, sound, smell, and touch to empower dozens of stakeholders, from producers to executives, to internalize — and empathize with — these underrepresented Americans.

Despite facilitating three distinct narratives, common themes emerged throughout the course of the half-day event, leaving network and marketing executives with a deeper understanding of the balance between individuality and connectedness that underscores humanity. The result reinforced their strategy of creating character portrayals that reflect the world today.

In the words of the parent company’s president: “At the center of every show are men and women with an authenticity that draws viewers in and creates a bond that keeps them coming back.”