Monday, June 10, 2013

Volkswagen On YouTube

Over the past month or two, Volkswagen and their Brazilian agency, AlmapBBDO have embraced YouTube in a big way.  It seems as though the agency was tasked with finding new and innovative ways to use YouTube in order to communicate various features of the new Volkswagen automobiles.  First up is a Chrome extension that's being used to demonstrate the Volkswagen start/stop engine technology that automatically turns the engine off to save energy and starts it again when the car is about to move.  The Chrome extension automatically pauses YouTube video if the user looks away from the screen and resumes playing as soon as the user looks back.  Check it out below.

Next up is a nice use of the ability to hover over the video timeline in YouTube to preview what's coming later in the video.  AlmapBBDO used this YouTube feature as a way to demonstrate how the VW side assist technology works to warn drivers of any danger approaching that they may not be able to see.

And finally, AlmapBBDO wanted to demonstrate the smooth shifting Tiptronic transmission technology using YouTube TrueView, or skippable ads.  They created a five second ad that appears to automatically skip the ad for you, thus tying back to the smooth shifting functionality of the VW.

All in all it shows how a client/agency can use the various features and existing functionality of YouTube in clever ways that demonstrate various product benefits.  Hats off to AlmapBBDO and Volkswagen.

P.S.  It seems that it's not just AlmapBBDO that's using YouTube in new and resourceful ways, DDB Espana also created the 'fastest ad in YouTube' that's so fast you can't even skip it.  Not quite sure how that links back to functionality of the new VW though...

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Useful Google+ Hangout Apps - Toyota Social Car Configurator & Storytime

As Google+ matures G+ Hangout apps are continuing to be used in ways that allow people to collaborate in new and interesting ways.  We've seen a slate of interesting new Google+ Hangout apps launch over the past few months, but I wanted to highlight a couple of useful Hangout app executions.

The Toyota Collaborator Hangout app has it's origins in a prototype app that my talented colleagues on the Zoo developer team created some months back.  The prototype has since been picked up by Toyota with Saatchi & Saatchi LA + Joystiq Interactive developing it out into a beautiful and polished social car configurator.  The app brings the experience of the online car configurator into a collaborative space where users can create their own personalized Prius along with friends and family.  Furthermore, Toyota has sales people available in the Hangout to answer various questions. book a test drive, etc. Check out the demo video below.

The second Hangout app I want to highlight is from Penguin books and developed by BBH London. The idea is to bring storytime into the digital age.  As the Storytime Hangout site describes: 'Magically transform yourself into characters from your favourite tales with Storytime Hangout. Share stories with your family, no matter where they are in the world.'

As both a new father and someone with young nieces and nephews across the Atlantic, I find this incredibly compelling.  It's a case of using technology to make the world smaller and bring people closer together in a way that mirrors existing behaviour.

The app experience itself is delightful, as participants can transform themselves into their favourite characters using head tracking technology and the lines of the story appear on the screen alongside the masked faces so both adults and children can read the lines as though they were reading the book together physically.  Three Billy Goats Gruff is hopefully just the first of many Penguin books that's brought to life with G+ Storytime.  Check out the intro video below and head over to Story Time Hangout to experience it yourself.

P.S.  BBH Labs has a nice writeup about the background and process of bringing this to life.

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Useful Advertising - Lowe's & UHAC

Here are a few examples of brands providing advertising that is genuinely useful to the viewer/user.

Every few months there's a new digital marketing platform du jour that's billed as the 'next big thing' for marketers.  Oftentimes brands attempt to shoehorn their messages onto the platform in rather awkward ways.  In short, many brands and marketers forget that just because you can, doesn't mean you should.  With that in mind, it's nice to what Lowe's is doing on the latest platform du jour, Vine.  As you know Vines are restricted to 7 second clips, so Lowe's is providing convenient little tips and lifehacks through quick hit Vines.  Very nice use of the platform.  See below and head over to Digital Examples to see more examples of Lowe's Vine postings.

On a completely different note, check out the work from Draftfcb Toronto on behalf of Canadian Union Hearing Aid Center.  I won't say more as I don't want to spoil it.

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GeoGuessr is a geography game which takes you on a journey around the world and challenges your ability to recognize your surroundings.  It's a simple yet addictive
use of Google Maps & Streetview.  Here's how it works, you're dropped into a random location on Google Street View and you have to guess where in the world you are.  Pan, tilt, and zoom around your Streetview location to help you narrow down your location then plot where you think you are on the map.  You are awarded points based on how close your guess was to the actual location.

While this has nothing to do with advertising, you can imagine how hotels, airlines or other travel brands in particular could use this as a compelling way to show off various destinations that they serve as well as run a competition.  I wouldn't be surprised if we see this idea co-opted by a brand in the near future.  Check out a walk through video below or head on over to GeoGuessr to play.

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Coca-Cola - The Ahhh Effect

Lately we've been seeing a trend in terms of brands creating open ended campaigns which feature light-weight, snackable content that can be quickly consumed by the audience and is completely platform agnostic.  A perfect example of this is the Coca-Cola Ahhhh Effect.

The Ahhh Effect fits in perfectly to the overall liquid content ethos of the brand as articulated by Jonathan Mildenhall in the now famous videos Coca-Cola Content 2020 videos.  The Ahhh effect, developed by Wieden + Kennedy, is a pure digital play.  The campaign is designed to be consumed in short bursts on mobile devices and features lightweight content such as mini-games, animated GIFS, short videos, etc.  Each piece of content lives on a distinct URL around ahhh (they've literally registered 61 different spins of, such as, etc.  As W+K describe:

The taste of Coca-Cola is a complex feeling of happiness, satisfaction and refreshment all at once, and yet there remains one little word that best sums it up: "AHH." 
In celebration of that "AHH" moment, Coca-Cola is owning AHH online by buying every URL, from two h's all the way to 61 h's. The campaign’s 61 unique URLs are each home to an original experience—including films, games, animated GIFs and more—that bring to life the dimensions of AHH and offer bite-sized interactive experiences featuring teen-worthy moments of randomness, creativity and delight.

Check it out at (or any variation thereof), beware it can become a huge rabbit hole and time suck.  My personal favorite is the Cat not Cat game (see below)

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Barclaycard - #BespokeBallads

UK financial provider, Barclays is getting into the offers arena and has launched a new service called Barclays Bespoke Offers for their existing account holders.  As you may have guessed their point of differentation is that the offers from both national and local merchants are bespoke for each individual.

In order to promote this new service Barclays (and their agency, Dare) have created Barclays bespoke ballads.  They've enlisted several teams of comedians and songwriters to turn people's tweet stream into songs.  Here's how it works...a user submits a tweet to #bespokeballads, the songwriters/comedians then comb through their Twitter feed and create a bespoke song based off their Twitter activity.  That video is then uploaded to the Barclays Bespoke Offers YouTube channel  Check out the intro video below.
If you want to see these in action, you can see below the #bespokeballads created for my colleague, Nathan Guerra.

As in most things, the execution is everything.  In this case, the execution is really well done.  It's another great example of providing a personalized digital artifact back to users who have taken the time to engage with the brand.  On the other hand, the personalized videos are relatively meaningless unless you know the person being serenaded, which is why it also makes sense to include influencers, celebrities or people who have a large following on Twitter.

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Points - The Most Advanced Directional Sign On Earch

I absolutely despise the term Internet Of Things.  Thankfully a more elegant and descriptive phrase is on the rise.  The term enchanted objects (originally coined by MIT Professor and product designer, David Rose) perfectly captures the essence of the latest creation from the folks at Breakfast NY.

My description really won't do it justice.  Simply put, points is the world's most advanced street sign.  More than that, Points demonstrates how imparting connectivity on every day objects has the potential to make them into something far superior to the original.  Check out the video below.

I highly recommend heading over to the Breakfast NY website to read more about the Points project.  You can imagine how Points can grow an evolve as technology changes and the sign becomes personalized for each user who encounters it.  You can try it out live via Twitter by using the hashtag #PointsSign and watch Points display your tweet and point to where you are in the world.

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Super Formula To Fight Cancer

It's nice to see creative agencies using their powers for good.  JWT Brazil teamed up with the AC Camargo Cancer Center and Warner Bros to create the 'Superformula to Fight Cancer.'  As described on the JWT blog:

'This program was based on the idea that the first step to the fight against cancer is believing in the cure. In order to get their patients to believe, JWT Brazil’s creative team worked with doctors to create a case that clips together to completely cover the chemotherapy intravenous bag. This case combined the painful medication with the magical world of super heroes and was given the name, “Superformula.” The new name and look of the treatment helped to change the perception in the kids’ by convincing them that the Superformula gave them their own superpower which could be used to conquer their illness.

The team at JWT Brazil didn’t stop there. To give these covers a more powerful meaning, the agency produced a special series of cartoons and comic books in which the superheroes go through experiences similar to those of kids with cancer, and recover their strength, thanks to the “Superformula.” In addition, the team provided a new look for the entire children’s ward of the AC Camargo Cancer Center: The game room was converted into the Hall of Justice, hallways and doors were decorated with the same idea, and a special entrance was created to fit the theme for these little heroes to enter through.'

Heartwarmingly wonderful.

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A Few Other Things I Like But Don't Have Time To Write Up

Coca-Cola Small World Machines
Another wonderful execution under the Coca-Cola 'Open Happiness' umbrella, this time bringing together people in Pakistan & India.  The number of activations around Coca-Cola vending machines around 'Open Happiness' is seemingly endless.

A Boy & His Atom - The World's Smallest Movie
This is incredible. IBM created the world's smallest stop motion film.  As they describe 'The ability to move single atoms — the smallest particles of any element in the universe — is crucial to IBM's research in the field of atomic memory. But even nanophysicists need to have a little fun. In that spirit, IBM researchers used a scanning tunneling microscope to move thousands of carbon monoxide molecules (two atoms stacked on top of each other), all in pursuit of making a movie so small it can be seen only when you magnify it 100 million times. A movie made with atoms.'

Getty Images - 85 Seconds
Last year, AlmapBBDO created a beautiful film from various stock photography to demonstrate the depth and breadth of the Getty Images library.  Now, AlmapBBDO has done the same thing to show off the depth of their video archive.  85 seconds tells the love story of a couple who meet as children, separate after college and reunite later in life.

Holland - The Original Cool
This amazing video was developed by the Mustache Agency for The Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Amsterdam Marketing and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.  The Original Cool is part of a larger advertising campaign aimed at the North American travel market.

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