A shop in Selfridges that prints 3D lollipops of shoppers creates a more engaging experience than any of this election’s political campaigns.
In two days we probably still won’t know who will be the next Prime Minister. We may not even know which party will be in control.
But it is a certainty that we will have reached the end of what many have characterised as a distinctly lacklustre pre-election campaign that failed to ignite before we trudged dutifully towards the polling booth.
Politicians might do worse than take a look at what Selfridges is up to at the moment with its newly launched Work It promotion. This is, in parts of the store, what creating an experience is all about – something that the political parties seem to find impossible.
Work It aims to explore the shifting work-life landscape, “From the death of the ‘9 to 5’ to innovations in technology”.
“As soon as you see it, you want to have a go”
And pride of place probably goes to Bed Redford and Sam Part, two young entrepreneurs who have set up temporary shop in the basement as Candy Mechanics.
Their idea is simple. A shopper’s head is scanned and then an edible lollipop replica is produced using a 3D printer. It’s pretty compelling – as soon as you see it, you want to have a go.
From Selfridges’ perspective the good bit is that it takes about 45 minutes for the printing process to be completed and shoppers will therefore wander off to take a look at the rest of the shop – dwell-time is increased.
This is a true experience. Shoppers enter the store, encounter something different from what they have seen before and become part of it.
It is, in short, an example of that horrible phrase, a ‘win win’. At the time of writing (Monday Bank Holiday afternoon) what Ben and Sam had succeeded in doing was turning a pretty routine stroll around the shops of London’s West End into something memorable.
This is surely what politicians across the land must wish that they were able to do and which, to judge by reports across the media, they so clearly have not been able to achieve.
So here’s a thought. Maybe in the run-up to polling day nascent MPs and ministers should take a look at our high streets. Retailers know all about drawing attention to themselves without people holding up their hands in horror.
It is too late for this to make much of a difference to the result on Friday, but this does not mean that lessons cannot be learned. And in case you’re wondering, the picture on the right is your humble columnist (apparently)… in 3D.