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Enjoy a virtual holiday meal hosted by Wieden + Kennedy

December 15, 2011 |  4:03 pm

Instead of sending out a traditional Christmas card, advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy's Amsterdam office has invited its friends, family, clients, and now the public to a super weird virtual holiday meal with humanoid robot dolls.

Here's how it works: You reserve 30 minutes of table time at and at the appointed time you and four friends or co-workers or family members, or strangers -- all call into the dinner via Skype where your heads will appear on flat screens that sit on top the robot doll bodies. The company, known for its work with Nike, has employed facial tracking software so that if you turn your head at home, your virtual robot doll also turns his or her head. The room that the dolls are sitting in has been elaborately decorated to add to the holiday spirit.

This is the second year that the agency's Amsterdam office has hosted the virtual holiday meal, but this year it added three scripts to the mix -- so while you are sitting at the virtual table you can figure out something to say. The lines to the script appear on participants computer screens karaoke style, so you know what to say and when.

Here's a sample from the "Business as Usual" dinner script:

CLIENT TWO: Perhaps, since we are all here, you’d like to try to sell us a digital idea that you know is not possible to make unless we quadruple the budget.

AGENCY MD: That would be incredibly irresponsible of us. Shall we begin?

CLIENT ONE: Before you start let me just say that our ambition for this project is to make a world first idea that connects all living people on the planet in a purposeful way.


We spoke with someone who had done several of these dinners already and asked if the whole experience was as awkward as it looked like it could be.

"It's totally awkward," she said. "It's funny, but it's also super awkward. First of all you are on a robot doll, so it is kind of weird, but I think once you get started with the script it's hilarious and then once it's over it's super awkward again."

That's kind of exactly how we'd imagine it would be.


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-- Deborah Netburn

Image: A picture of the virtual holiday meal in action. Credit: Wieden + Kennedy