Experience It! Exposed

Jeff Bodell
Jeff Bodell

First, why don't you tell us how the idea for Experience It! came about?

The Boise Art Museum (BAM) was looking to advertise the Gary Hill Exhibit in a non-traditional way due to the unique medium and delivery he utilizes. The museum's staff wanted to try a "Gorilla" or an "Underground" advertising campaign to attract a new audience to the museum. One employee had heard of Internet Scavenger Hunts and suggested it as a possible ad campaign.

I had developed a relationship with BAM over the last few years. My students were part of a digital art exhibit in 2001 and several of my students have completed internships with the museum. The museum contacted me and asked if I would be able to develop a scavenger hunt on the Internet to lead the Boise Community to an Opening Exhibit Party.

We had a meeting and I suggested the idea of trying to make it more of an adventure with a mysterious storyline and real interaction points in Boise. Of course I wasn't really aware of the massive undertaking I had just offered!

The museum said, "Lets do it!" and I began writing a few sample storylines for them to look over. They had mentioned what a unique experience the Gary Hill Exhibit was so I just thought that "Experience It!" would be an intriguing name for the entire NetVenture.

Who all were involved in the creation and development of the campaign?

The Boise Art Museum, Meridian Charter High School, Table Rock Brew Pub, Boise Historical Preservation Office, and TableRock Printing.

The BAM side of the Experience It campaign included the "guerrilla" marketing, such as the parking lot flyers with Experience It! written on them, the purchasing of billboards and newspaper ads, planning the final party activity, and giving me the biographical and exhibit information about Gary Hill.

I was contracted to develop the entire electronic portion of the campaign. Obtaining domain names, hosting sites, developing the story and of course the development of the actual websites for the NetVenture. Because I teach at a technology-oriented Charter High School, I had a lot of resources available to help in the development of the NetVenture.

Once I had the general storyline approved with BAM, I was able to fill in the specifics with the biographical information from Gary Hill. Ideas such as his interest in surfing were the catalyst for the Surfersrus.org website. His fascination with the Riddle of the Sphinx was the reason behind the Gregory Bateson website, and so on.

The next step was giving mystery projects to some of my Graphic Design Students. They all knew they would be paid for the development of these interesting websites, but none of them were actually told what they were developing them specifically for. Needless to say, they all loved the opportunity to work on a real life design project and get paid for it. Near the end of the development I started to add some content to the sites the students designed. That is when I was able to let the students in on the grand picture of the Experience It project. They were pretty excited about the whole thing.

Can you tell us a little bit about Meridian Charter High School? This kind of thing seems like it would be and out-of-place activity in your run-of-the-mill public school.

The Meridian Charter High School is a school that takes advantage of School Charter Law. Basically it allows a school to teach the state's curriculum in inventive and new ways. For example, our students get their Health credit while taking Biology. Many of our classes are integrated, that allows more time for the school to offer four technology tracks students can choose from: Programming, Networking, Graphics, and Electronics. Students that graduate from MCHS not only earn a High School Diploma, but also can earn college credits and obtain industry certifications in their respectve tracks.

Student requirements include Job Shadow experience and Internship experience. We also have developed several partnerships with local businesses due to the internship arrangement. That is how I was able to work my students into the Experience It event. They are already asking me if they can develop another NetVenture……Ahhhhh!

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