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Germaine Fagan, Junior Planner at The Union, ruminates on the use of digital technologies as a tool to craft unreal realities and identities, and what it means for brands.   

Picture this. You’re at a music festival. Your favourite band is playing. You’re among the raucous hedonists with flowers in their hair. However, there is one difference. You’re the only person who isn’t simultaneously raving and recording the whole thing on your phone and uploading it to Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook while it is taking place. This phenomenon has become our new normal. More and more people interrupt living their actual lives to construct a utopian online identity. And by doing so, they let this fantasy world supersede really living the experience.

Portal - The Union

A fantasy world can supersede living the real experience.

Our quest for an ideal transcendent experience is nothing new. Nineteenth-century authors such as Gautier, Huysmans and Wilde wrote compelling stories featuring decadent anti-heroes who take refuge in fantasy worlds. Similar to nineteenth-century fiction, our society is becoming one that prefers the illusion of the experience to the actual experience itself. Social media has enabled us to create a filtered, airbrushed and worry-free fantasy world.

Thus, more and more brands are using technology to enhance the intensity of their customers’ experiences. The dreamlike reality of AR and VR provide a break from our mundane reality and transport us to a dream space that is completely immersive. Furthermore, reality is being mixed up and digitalised through virtual reality, augmented reality headsets or apps like The Pokémon Go phenomenon took the world by storm with its real-time, augmented reality app and illustrates how increasingly the boundaries between online, gaming and real-world blur. Pokémon Go is also a sign of future brand engagement to come.

To sum up, the fantasy lives that people create for themselves are just as important to them as the “real world” they inhabit. Therefore, brands need to devote time and resources to using technology to create and deliver ever more stimulating fantasy experiences for their users and consumers.

If you would like help navigating the AR/VR landscape with your brand, drop our Digital Account Director Andy Baker a line at