Hearst launches new experiential division (the future’s made of VirtuELLE Reality)

On Thursday, Hearst UK took over the OMNI Gallery in Soho, to launch its new experiential division, HearstX. The department will oversee platforms and campaigns across the physical, VR, AR, and mixed experience spaces, further cementing the company’s reputation as a world leader in the events sector. 

FIPP was on-hand to experience some of the new platforms directly, as the exhibition walked attendees through some impressive developments.

From new ‘controversy free’ virtual influencers, to a fully playable Cosmopolitan world, and an on-site photobooth used to create instant digital avatars of the guests in attendance on the day, this was a captivating event that blended an unrivalled mix of multi-world experiences into a single location. 

Particularly impressive was the VirtuELLE Reality room… an experience that began with the scanning of a QR code tucked inside the latest print version of the magazine, and ended in an all-out immersive behind-the-scenes fashion shoot experience – the play on words wasn’t bad either. 

This was an event itself emblematic of the content that it showcased… art, imitating life, imitating ELLE, pushing the limits of modern media technology perhaps further than it has ever been before. 

Some of these technologies were not necessarily even tomorrow’s world, the afore-mentioned QR code being a prime example. But the elegance with which they were blended together with other mediums, and the effortlessness with which exhibition visitors were transported between different worlds, made for a media experience I personally have not witnessed the like of before. (Although granted I haven’t been to Disney World since before the pandemic!) 

At the end of the month, as reported earlier this week, Art Tindsley will become the first ever Head of HearstX, reporting to Executive Creative Director, Mark McCafferty (pictured top set of images, left). Together, the two will be charged with creating cutting-edge media experiences for consumers and brands alike… and judging by what we saw at the OMNI Gallery, they certainly look set to achieve that.


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