Skip to main content

Thinkwell Partner Foresees the Evolution of Virtual and Location-Based Experiences for Leading Consumer Brands


Related:  Thinkwell to Design and Produce Behind the Scenes look at the Harry Potter Movies

Hollywood Paved the Way in Translating Franchises into Compelling Guest Experiences; Corporations Will Follow Suit by Bringing Brands to Life

Today at the TRANSMEDIA, HOLLYWOOD 2: Visual Culture and Design industry symposium, co-hosted by UCLA and USC, Craig Hanna, chief creative officer, Thinkwell Group, forecasted significant growth in virtual and location-based themed experiences for leading consumer brands. The event, attended by leading media creators, designers and industry executives, focused on the re-imagination of the entertainment business. Hanna predicts that the convergence of on- and offline virtual worlds will grow outside of Hollywood.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg. I envision the creation of many corporate environments that will combine themed in-person experiences with extensions to and from the digital world.”

Hanna, who has nearly 25 years of experience in the creation of compelling experiences and environments for some of the world’s leading entertainment companies, stated that although corporate pavilions and brand expos have been around since the 1940s, he envisions a future where consumer brands will increasingly create large-scale special exhibitions and branded environments to showcase their company and products and reach their targeted consumer groups.

“Some consumer brands have already created guest experiences, such as The World of Coke in Atlanta, Sega Joypolis in Tokyo and M&M’s World in Las Vegas, ” he said. “This is just the tip of the iceberg. I envision the creation of many corporate environments that will combine themed in-person experiences with extensions to and from the digital world.”

When panelists were asked about the challenges associated with creating experiences that tell a complex story but may only last a matter of minutes, Hanna noted that when dealing with Hollywood IPs for which people already have an understanding and affinity, the consumer’s previous experience with the story adds the necessary context. He also commented on the changing interests of the younger generation in particular, stating that people have an affinity for and deeper connection to products and therefore corporations have an opportunity to tap into immersive storytelling and worldbuilding.

Hanna was joined on the panel by some of the industry’s most notable creative executives and thought leaders, including Scott Bukatan, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies, Stanford University (Matters of Gravity: Special Effects and Supermen in the 20th Century); Rick Carter, Production Designer (Avatar, A.I.); Dylan Cole, Art Director (Avatar, Alice in Wonderland, Tron); Thierry Coup, Art Designer (Wizarding World of Harry Potter); Angela Ndalianis, Associate Professor and Head of the Cinema Studies Program at the University of Melbourne, Australia (Neo-Baroque Aesthetics and Contemporary Entertainment); and Bruce Vaughn, Chief Creative Executive, Disney Imagineering (Tron, Pirates of the Caribbean, Toy Story).

About Thinkwell Group

Thinkwell, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, is a full-service experiential design and development firm that collaborates with its clients to envision, strategize and create immersive, one-of-a-kind guest experiences. Thinkwell develops and produces attractions, master plans, brand experiences, exhibits, live shows, environments, multimedia and digital integration. The company has become a leader in experiential design by bringing a unique holistic approach to every creative engagement, delivering extraordinary results to notable clients over the years, including Fortune 500 companies, studios, museums, theme parks and destination resorts.

Thinkwell’s range of work includes master planning for Warner Bros., Universal, MGM and Paramount as well as attractions such as Sesame Street Presents: The Body, Universal 360 – A Cinesphere Spectacular; the Show at the Pier Shops at Caesar’s Atlantic City; and the Snow Play Zone at Ski Dubai. Thinkwell is based in Burbank, CA, with offices in Dubai UAE.

More from this author

Your web browser is out of date. Update your browser for more security, speed and the best experience on this site.

Find out how to update