Did anyone else see that Godzilla-sized Barbie in Dubai, or the tube in London that transformed into a massive, abstract Maybelline ad? What about the giant Jacquemus handbags that raced through the streets of Paris? No? Well, that’s because it’s all in the magic of CGI. We all know the phrase “pics or it didn’t happen”, but digital artists have turned that request for evidence on its head.

This new and surreal concept has been dubbed “faux out of home” (FOOH). The idea? Blend the physical and digital worlds and create ads that could exist but, well, don’t. The line between reality and what’s digitally crafted is getting blurrier by the day and it got me thinking…

Brands are jumping onto this CGI bandwagon, and the virality is hard to deny. Our beliefs are easily swayed by what we see, making the power of these faux visuals even more evident. While these CGI wonders are a delightful treat for our eyes and imagination, there’s still an irreplaceable value in real, tangible moments. The laughs, the feels, the shared moments with strangers-turned-friends at a brand event – that’s the stuff memories are made of.

Those tangible moments are the true, long-lasting game changers. Yes, giant CGI Barbies and motorized handbags are impressive, but don’t forget: they’re not real. They’re part of the algorithm. They’re part of the noise we’re inundated with daily.

I’ve always believed in the power of real-life experiences. There’s something incredibly unique and magical about letting customers feel a brand. That actual experience, whether it’s tasting, touching, or just being immersed in a brand’s world – there’s no digital replacement for that. Don’t get me wrong: I think all of this is pretty cool, but nothing replaces the actual physical experience.

There’s a difference between virality and people actually being present and sharing their experience organically. Sending a short video to a friend because you thought it was cool has a completely different meaning than telling a friend about a great product you got to try at a wild brand activation.

Bringing people together, in-person, to experience something is still a major feat. When’s the last time you were at a concert and actually considered how many people were in the moment with you? It’s beautiful when you take a step back and realize a couple hundred of you are all excited to experience the same spectacle at the same time. Some CGI eyelashes can’t duplicate that.

In the end, while FOOH is a fascinating new frontier in advertising, let’s not forget the impact of the human experience. Marketing and advertising is all about surprise and delight. Let’s keep wowing the world, but don’t forget about the physical and emotional connections people make with brands. Experiential marketing offers customers moments they can really see and feel, and create memories that last long after their phone goes dark.