Lockheed Martin and McCann previously captured kids'--and the industry's--imagination on the celebrated “Field Trip to Mars,” the "group VR" experience that treated a school bus full of children to a view of the Red Planet. Now the team is back, with a campaign geared toward an older group of students, engineering undergrads who are close to taking their first steps out of college and into the job market.
Late last month, a 14-foot high box showed up on the campus of Virginia Tech. Nearly 900 students took turns trying to crack it open by answering complex engineering questions presented by a video interface built into its side. Almost a hundred made it in and were treated to an immersive, holographic trip through the stars (along with a recruitment pitch from Lockheed Martin).
The trio that correctly answered the most complicated question, a conundrum about satellite communication that Lockheed had had to solve itself recently, won $10,000 from the school. (If you want to try your hand at cracking it, check out the question here.)
While engineers from Lockheed selected the questions, the creative team at McCann spearheaded creation of the massive, hollow box. “We loved the idea of putting what is infinite--space--into a finite structure, but in order to make the experience feel believable the box had to be a certain scale,” says Mat Bisher, executive creative director at McCann Worldgroup. The design needed to inspire but also appeal to cooler-than-thou college kids. “You need to make real impact real quick with them.”
The final product was a collaboration between the agency, architect Mercia May Jensen and production companies Will O’Rourke and Traction 3D. “It weighs about 6 tons,” Bisher says. “Structurally it has an internal truss constructed out of laser-cut and CNCd bent aluminum TIG welded, and an automotive high gloss paint finish, complete with its own internal HVAC system.” That kept the inside from being sweltering when winners entered to watch the video, created by McCann and Traction.
Though the Virginia tech contest is over, the box will be making the rounds at other engineering schools and recruiting events across the country (with brand new questions).