Video and audio content is delivered by Eyemagnet’s content management system — a fully secure and centrally managed cloud-based system which can distribute content live onto individual screens. That content includes children’s television programming from the locally-made series, the WotWots, which Paul negotiated with Richard Taylor’s Pukeko Pictures.
Rather than being an afterthought, Paul says Eyemagnet’s involvement from the start of the project was refreshing. “That’s why we really enjoy working with Westpac — and the Queen Street branch is a magnificent showcase.”
Built by Focus Construction, within a tight, three-month timeframe, the new Queen Street branch is very much about “pushing the boat out,” according to Westpac’s project manager, Andrew Tasker. And, he says, the feedback has been pretty amazing from day one — so much so that the concept is being duplicated.
Westpac’s aim is to relate what customers are doing on a daily basis outside the bank. This could involve installing quad bikes in a rural location (with appropriate safety messages, of course) or using stylised propellers in Palmerston North to reflect the presence of wind farms there. “We’re taking that forward to provide meaningful elements within every bank that we do from now on — under my watch, anyway,” says Andrew.
Interestingly, Andrew says that, while the timber floors in Queen Street have cost thousands of dollars per square metre, when you’re talking “bangs for buck,” it’s those whimsical elements like the LEGO chopper and the café caravan that people comment on the most.
But not everyone’s happy about Westpac’s bright new digital façade. The bank had wanted to rotate up to 10 images an hour, but the Auckland Council have restricted it to just four image changes — and with no video content — due to what Andrew says has been a “phenomenal knee-jerk reaction.”
Despite the strong digital content, Andrew says it was never Westpac’s intention to create some sort of “Times Square advertising”. The real aim was to have something “truly meaningful” that brought the entire shop front together, “so it had a real attraction value, and a real relationship with our brand.”
As Westpac’s digital consultant on the project, Paul says that Eyemagnet understands how the Council has been burnt many times by cowboy ad companies that “throw up flashing lights everywhere.” His mission is to mitigate the concern by drawing on his industry knowledge from the digital displays used for outdoor events in Australia. “We want to show how technically good this stuff is, if you do it well.”
For its part, Context Architects says that the new Westpac façade has blown the old signage rules “out of the water” and the Council is trying to work out how to regulate it. While officials may be nervous about opening the floodgates, Natalie says the Council’s attitude is surprising, given that a nearby sushi shop has a half-metre, flashing digital sign. “That thing catches your eye in a more aggressive way than this does, but they’re not controlled because their sign’s so small.”
In fact, says Natalie, Context Architects discussed “all sorts of crazy ideas” with Eyemagnet about having interactive screens where a camera could capture a customer and put them in a scene. They also thought about having an animated clip of the local branch manager talking directly to people and welcoming them into the store.
The Council just needs to catch up with where they’d like to take it, she says. “The technology’s there. And, when they’re ready, Westpac’s going to be more than ready.”