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Great Brand Experience: The human library

By Joss Davidge

This is a great experiential idea from Human Library, a project which loans out interesting people to tell you interesting stories about themselves in a bid to challenge people’s perceptions.

Human_Library_Experiential_Marketing_1Started by a group of young Danish activists, this engaging experiential activity is designed to bring together a diverse group of people, extremely varied in age, sex and cultural background, and “loan” them out, in order to promote dialogue and understanding and to reduce prejudices.Human_Library_Experiential_Marketing_2

The storytellers have been dubbed ‘Human Books’.  One day you could loan out a Belly Dancing Librarian, next a Pagan or a Male Nanny – and all to gain some perspective and connect with them on a one to one basis.Human_Library_Experiential_Marketing_3

The group of activists have said that at the Human Library, there is no such thing as stupid questions; it is an opportunity to borrow another person for a given time, and ask them exactly what you want to know. The results are usually a broadening of the mind and the elimination of stereotypes.

This simple but very positive idea of getting people talking and finding out more about one another has been so successful that it has since spread outside of its birthplace, Denmark, to the rest of the world; some countries have even set up permanent Human Libraries.

Here at BEcause, we have been working on an ongoing experiential campaign for Public Health England that has roots in the same idea.  Enabling members of the public to engage with a team of health professionals and people who knew what it’s like to experience, or have a friend or family member experience, cancer. 

Cancer survival rates in the UK are some of the lowest in Europe – one reason Public Health England has identified is that people are not presenting early enough to their GP's, either through embarrassment, stoicism or simply not recognising their symptoms. We are working with Public Health England to help change that; by getting people to talk to brand ambassadors who had a personal connection to the cause and can forge genuine connections.

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