Friday, January 18, 2013

Telstra New Year's Eve App

We had a session at the Google Creative Sandbox in Cannes last June with James Hilton of AKQA.  Among other things, we discussed the potential of mobile and product design in general.  He said something that really stuck with me; unless an experience is useful, usable or delightful then it's just contributing to the digital landfill.  Unfortunately many brands seem to ignore that advice and pump out ill-conceived mobile apps or experiences that meet none of the aforementioned criteria.  That's why I love this app developed by Australian Telco, Telstra for New Year's eve in Sydney.  The app has a host of features to enhance and amplify the experience of fireworks goers in Sydney.  As the good folks over at Contagious explain:

Throughout the night, four Telstra Colour Moments will automatically sync phone screens with the lighting on Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the fireworks displays around the bay. The screens will light up, becoming a visual extension of the show. 

Message the Bridge, another function on the app, enables users to write and submit their very own New Year's message - with 1500 of these being displayed on the pylons of the bridge over the course of the night. A dedicated Facebook app lets people without a smartphone send messages to the bridge. 

Telstra has also included features to help the public get the most from the evening: the maps function, for example, details the best vantage points from which to see the fireworks, and includes information on reaching each one; and Midnight Messages enables users (on any network) to pre-load 50 SMS messages which Telstra will then send out to their loved ones, free of charge, at midnight. 

Telstra also streamed the fireworks on their YouTube channel for those folks who couldn't attend in person.

Overall the Telstra App is just a great example of a mobile application that meets all of the criteria.  It's useful (best vantage points via maps, rules about what you can and can't bring to the fireworks, etc.), usable (nice UX in the app, but also the ability to pre-load SMS messages to send at midnight) and delightful (become part of the larger experience via the Telstra Colour Moments, Message The Bridge).  Check out the demo video below.

hat tip: Contagious

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Newspaperswork - 6 Things YOu Can Miss While Reading A Newspaper

I somehow missed this prior to the holidays.  The guys at Duval Guillaume recently created this lovely video in order to promote Newspaperswork, the marketing platform for all Belgian newspaper publishers.  In the video, three of the top advertising executives in Belgium are offered a free ride to work in a chauffeur-driven sedan.  Ostensibly they've been offered the chauffeur service so that they'll have time to read the newspaper on their way to the office.
Rather than ruin the payoff, I'd ask that you just watch below.

It's an incredibly clever and interesting use of video to demonstrate the power of print.  Very meta.

Nokia - Open Song Project

Nokia is promoting the new Lumia 920 and the power of the phone's Pureview camera system.  As part of the campaign, Nokia's advertising agency Naked Communications recently launched The Open Song Project.  It is a collaboration between Nokia and Danish Rock Orchestra Spleen United that allows users to interact with the band's song 'Hibernation' to create a bespoke music video.  The hook is that each user can create their own individual version of the video from the sixteen different sequences that appear in the song.

All the videos have been shot with the new Lumia 920 without filters or edits.  Whether or not the link back to the phone is particularly strong, the interactive nature of the project is really exciting.  The band isn't launching the song as a standard music video, instead putting it out there for people to create their own versions.  Users can save and share the version of the video that they create, meaning that there is no 'official' music video, only fan creations from the component parts.  It's sort of like a easily accessible version of Kutiman or a less collaborative version of Jam With Chrome.

Check out the video below or head over to The Open Song Project site to create your own version (note: too bad it's done in flash or else it'd make a hell of a Chrome Experiment.)

BMWi Born Electric

Here's a nice bit of mobile advertising.  The BMWi Born Electric campaign allows users to take a virtual test drive in the BMW i8 or i3 concept car with Google Maps and Street View.  After selecting one of the concept cars, users are put in the drivers seat and can choose a route that they want to take to any location or one of many landmarks in different cities.  Users are given an in-car perspective and given a view of their route via Google Streetview.  An accompanying map shows the location on the route and how much power is left in the electric battery.  If you select the 'Interior 360' option you can pan around inside the car and get a 360 degree interior view of the car and a 360 exterior view of your location in Street View.

Targeted at city dwellers, the mobile experience is a really nice way to put the experience of the i3 and i8 into the users hands while showing how electric cars can easily fit into their existing urban life.

Have a play around with the London experience.

Subaru EyeSight

So how do you demonstrate a relatively dry product feature (collision avoidance system) of the new Subaru?  That was the challenge addressed in this delightful video.  Subaru decided to use mini electric cars to demonstrate the power of their new Eyesight collision avoidance system.  They outfitted hundreds of these mini cars with stereoscopic cameras and miniature speakers that emitted different sounds when the system was engaged.  The resulting video is a delight both visually and aurally.  Check it out below.

via Adverblog

Lynx Space Academy

Space is all the rage these days and Lynx (Axe in the US) is getting into the act by sending people into space.  As part of the massive multi-agency campaign Lynx is recruiting males from across the world to take part in the contest.  There will be 22 winners, with the campaign running in 77 countries around the world.  The semi-finalists will head off to Space Camp and the lucky winners fly up to 103km with the space tourism company, Space XC.  They also enlisted legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin for the initial promo video (see below.)

The campaign lives on YouTube, Facebook and a separate Lynx Apollo campaign site.  Lynx has also created a series of videos to promote the campaign.  The general insight seems to be that nothing beats an astronaut.  The videos show astronauts effortlessly pulling ladies left, right and center (see below).  It'll be interesting to see how much of a boost/halo effect this campaign gets from the success of the Red Bull Stratos project.  To be fair this campaign was in development long before the Felix Baumgartner jump, but the buzz generated by Red Bull can only help to amplify the Lynx effort.

Send A Tweet, Get A Cookie

Here's a nice piece of student work.  As Design Taxi writes:  
To reward Twitter users, Sweden-based Daniel Jansson, Alexis Morin and Sharon Williams of UmeĆ„ Institute of Design have created a cookie box that gives out the sweet treat when users post a tweet with a certain hashtag on Twitter. 

Called the ‘UID Cookie Box’, it reacts to tweets through lighting, and even refuses to give you another cookie if you had just gotten one—to help you watch your weight, maybe. 

You could easily imagine this extending out to brand usages where a tweet (or any social action) acts as  the currency to power a vending machines.  Basically the next (automated) evolution to things like the Twitter powered Special K pop-up shop in London from a few months back.

via Design Taxi

Homepage For The Homeless

I love this idea from Australian charity Ladder and agency GPY&R Melbourne.  Homepage For The Homeless is basically a twist on affiliate marketing.  Based on the simple fact that a tremendous amount of holiday shopping is done online, they asked users to change their homepage to the 'Homepage For The Homeless.'  The homepage is just a portal page featuring major retailers such as Amazon, iTunes, Deals Direct, etc.  Users who started their journey on the Homepage For The Homeless and then went on to purchase on a participating site had 15% of their purchase value donated to the homeless.

It's an incredibly simple way for internet shoppers to do a little bit of good during the holidays.  The ask on the part of the user is incredibly small and yet the (altruistic) reward is potentially huge.

A Few Things From The Holidays Worth Noting - Mobile Orchestra, PNC Christmas, Starbucks Spread The Cheer

AKQA Mobile Orchestra
A lovely collaborative mobile experience from AKQA: 'to celebrate the holidays, AKQA teamed up with members of the Pacific Chamber Symphony and Mussic Director Lawrence Kohl to create a synchronized mobile orchestra.'  See the video below or experience it at

PNC Twelve Days Of Christmas
For nearly 30 years US-based PNC bank has calculated a yearly Christmas Price Index.  The CPI (as they call it) shows the current cost for one set of each of the gifts given in the song 'The Twelve Days Of Christmas.'  For the past several years PNC has also create immersive digital experiences that bring the CPI to life.  This year's 12 Days Of Christmas Experience is particularly well done.  Check it out here.

Starbucks Spread The Cheer
When will brands learn that campaigns inviting user participation have the potential to backfire?  You'd think that moderation of these campaigns would be the default after mishaps like McDonalds #McDStories.  Starbucks is the in a growing list of participatory campaigns gone horribly wrong.  Before the holidays the coffee giant invited the twittersphere to send out some holiday cheer, using the hashtag '#SpreadTheCheer.'  Instead the company received a bombardment of tweets criticizing the company, particularly the low tax rates that the company pays in the UK (background: a couple weeks prior Starbucks was dragged in front of Parliament to address tax avoidance accusations).  If that's not painful enough, Starbucks had also setup #SpreadTheCheer screens showing live tweets at the ice skating rink in front of the London Natural History Museum.  #FAIL.  Huffington Post has some of the choice tweets here.