Spotlight #TEDx Talk: UX can create emotion

Spotlight #TEDx Talk: UX can create emotion

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Fred Raillard, FF GROUP CEO, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, gave a TEDx talk in Shanghai about User Experience 3 weeks ago.

“My whole life was driven by emotions. Even coming to China was a completely emotional decision. In fact, I use my head only when I have stupid decisions to take. Choosing a washing machine for instance. But for all important decisions in my life I don’t use my head, I use my emotions.

That’s how I came to China. Because I didn’t really want to come to China. I was a guy from the western world so I was “trained” to love Japan, to spend my holidays in Thailand. But I have a Chinese friend. I flew with him to Shanghai. And I landed in Shanghai. It was in February. It was cold, rainy, dark, polluted… and I loved it. I don’t know why. I just loved it. No reason. I was just listening to my emotions and my emotions told me: “You’ve got to be here”. Then I called my wife and said “Ok we’re moving to China”.

I’m a mad man. I’m doing advertising. In fact I’m doing digital advertising. I guess you all know Mad Men, the TV series. It’s the story of those guys who invented advertising back in the 60’s in New York on Madison Avenue. They were all on Madison Avenue, that’s why they were called the Mad Men. Also because they were a little mad as well. And in that period of time there were these guys working for big brands, doing huge emotional campaigns. And if you look at that period… if you compare it with 50 years later, the digital advertising… there is only one major difference: conversation. You need to engage a dialogue. Back in time, these guys were just showing you a model of society, a model of life, and you had to buy that. Now it is not possible, especially with younger targets. You need to interact, engage a conversation. This interaction is in the center of every advertising agency and every marketing direction today.

That’s where the UX comes. The UX works on interaction, in order to make an entertaining, clever interaction with the customers. Brands don’t really like conversation but they have to engage into it. Nowadays the rising stars in ad agencies are the UX designers. Every single day I can hear “We need a great UX guy on that!”. They’re the big stars. The first thing on UX is that we believe UX is only for tech people, and that it’s complicated: it’s a cliché.

I believe that UX can be very simple. Let me show you something we have produced for a baby clothing brand. It was a very interesting experience: how do you interact with the baby? Whether this baby is from China, Europe, America, Africa etc. What do you do? You play with the baby. I can communicate with a Chinese baby: I just play with the baby. And I can interact by playing. So we have created an app for this French brand where you face a grumpy baby. And you play peekaboo with the baby. Then the baby laughs. This app chooses twenty different grumpy babies and you have to play peekaboo to make them laugh.

A super simple and childish UX. It doesn’t need to be complicated, it’s all about emotion.

Now another cliché about UX… “What is the Holy Grail of UX?”. The answer is: intuitive. We keep hearing this everyday. “This is an amazing UX… it’s so intuitive”. Websites are now so intuitive that a lot of them become conventional. By applying this convention of intuitive websites, they are becoming boring. When you do a campaign website it can be a danger because it prevents you from exploring all the possibilities of UX. UX offers you new fields of creativity, to create and enhance emotion. Let me show you an example that we’ve done: an interactive music video that is totally not intuitive. When you guys listen to music -it is so universal- you shake your head a little bit. We all do this movement with the head because we are all monkeys, we are all the same. Well, we have done the exact opposite. We have produced a music video for a genius Chinese guy: A Bu. He’s a 14-year old Chinese jazz composer. We did this music video for this kid sponsored by Sennheiser, the headphone brand. In this music video we do the exact opposite of following the music. This time your head dictates the music… and the music video follows your head. So we open on a split screen… on the left side you have A Bu playing on his piano. On the right side, a lyrical singer named Bingbing Wang. And if you bounce your head on one side, you hear more A Bu and discover his dancer. On the other side, you hear more the lyrical singer and discover her dancer.

There is another cliché when you work with brands and you think about UX. By default, we always talk about the brand website, the e-commerce website, the brand apps etc. But we barely talk about the potential on services… and you can surely offer great user experience on services relevant to the brand. Another example is with this video case for a British biscuit brand called McVitie’s. British people might not be the best at cooking. I know it… I’m a Frenchman. But I don’t know why, they know how to do good biscuits. McVitie’s is facing a tough competition from cookies, American cookies. And we love eating chocolate chips cookies. But we don’t love cookies on our computers. Because they spy on us. So we decided to create a service where you can press a button and destroy all the cookies on your computer. This service is offered by McVitie’s, the biscuits.

It’s a very enjoyable user experience. You just have to press one button, and with one click you destroy 5,000 cookies.

One last cliché about UX… Because this notion was born from the digital world. This virtual world is always associated with UX and UX designers. But it should be taken with a broader sense of this word. The user experience is for every kind of interaction with the brand. From online to offline. It would be super interesting to ask a UX designer to come up and help design a shop, and also ask a great architect to help design a website. Because they could bring clever insights on both sides. Those two worlds are melting today. So when we talk UX we should think about online AND offline. Both combined together. Here is an offline experience with a connected device, it’s a can from a French softdrink brand called Orangina. This softdrink brand is super ironic, sarcastic. And during the football World Cup we have created for them a special edition of a can with a remote controller. By pressing the button of the remote controller on this can you can switch off any football game in the same room. So this can was made for the people who don’t like football.

The best UX for the guy pressing the button, and the worst for people around.

To wrap it up, for a lot of people technology is something cold, mathematical, logical… but it’s not. It’s a wide field of creativity to enhance emotion. And that’s the most important thing… emotion. Take Obama for instance. When he was aiming for presidency, his speeches were not brand new: they were about more equality, more justice… but it was super emotional because this person was an African-American aiming for the White House. It was highly emotional. That is why he tattooed our brains and hearts.

When you do communication, what you need to -coming back to the Mad Men- is to create emotion. You need to touch people and provoke an emotion. You can touch the head, the heart, the belly and even the sex sometimes on fashion ads for instance. But you have to touch some part of the people you are talking to. That’s how you mark with your messages. You must aim for emotion. I love working on UX because it is putting users at the center, humans at the center… so emotions at the center”.

FFollow Fred Raillard on Twitter: @FredFarid

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