Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Google - Art, Copy & Code

Art, Copy & Code in a series of experiments that started last year with the Google Project Re:Brief. Whereas Re:Brief re-imagined classic ads for the modern web, Art, Copy & Code looks at the future of modern advertising on the web through a series of experiments conceived, developed and executed in partnership with brands such as VW, Adidas & Burberry.  As the site explains:

A Time of Change
In the 1960's, advertising went through a creative revolution that changed everything simply by partnering up art directors and copywriters. The idea of a creative team made up of art and copy was born.  Today, it’s happening again. We’re in the midst of a second creative revolution, driven by technology. Code is being added to the core creative process, enabling new forms of brand expression and engagement. Art, copy and code is the creative team for the connected world.

The Idea Is Still King
What hasn’t changed is the need for human insights, breakthrough ideas and emotional stories. Code facilitates new kinds of experiences, but it doesn’t replace the storytelling skills the advertising industry has honed over the past fifty years. Our connected world is giving brands more dimensions and touch points, but they still need something compelling to offer in order to create a real connection.

A Series of Experiments
How will the modern web shape the future of advertising? We’re partnering with the innovative brands, storytellers and makers who are defining it to find out.

I highly recommend watching the dynamically generated manifesto/intro film on the Art, Copy & Code site.

The first in the series of experiments is the VW - Smileage app.  The official Google blog has a good overview of the experiment or check out the video below.  I envision it as the driving equivalent of Nike+, providing both entertainment AND utility back to the user in the form of insightful information about the individual's driving behaviour, habits, etc.

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Three - The Dancing Pony

Three is a UK-based mobile provider fighting for market share in a crowded and competitive environment.  Their most recent campaign, developed by Wieden + Kennedy London has absolutely blown up on UK television and the Interwebs.  'The Pony' is a truly delightful commercial and has been great in terms of generating awareness (though one could argue about the strength of the association with Three vs. just the Pony).

What's been interesting to me is to see how Three & W+K have extended on the TV commercial in the digital space, as well as taking the digital activity and feeding that back into TV.  If you haven't already seen it, check out 'The Pony' ad below before reading on.

In terms of driving digital activity, Three have created 'The Pony Mixer' which sends users to the Three YouTube channel where they can create their own bespoke version of the Dancing Pony, complete with various visual effects and a wealth of iconic songs to choose from.  That's a fantastic way to deepen the experience for users who are willing to go beyond just a passive view of the video.  You can check out the trailer for the Pony Mixer below.  There's also a heavy Twitter component around the hashtag #DancePonyDance, which generated 14,000 tweets within five hours of the video being uploaded and has continued to be active throughout the life of the campaign.

Lastly, Three have also taken the best of of the user generated videos created via The Pony Mixer along with the associated tweets and are running those as follow up TV commericals.  These include versions such as the Bollywood Pony, the Punk Pony and my personal favorite, the Hip-Hop Pony (see below)

Taken together the work from W+K London is just a fantastic example of how various channels can work together in a way that allows each component to extend and amplify the overall campaign.

Also worth noting that, the Poke have created their own hilarious version (not via the Pony Mixer) of the Dancing Pony called the Findus Pony.  For those of you outside of the UK, Findus is one of the brands/vendors caught up in the recent Horsemeat Scandal.

hat tip: Bobby Nolla & Adrian Dent

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Coca-Cola - Small World Machines

I recently came across this teaser video for the latest in Coca-Cola's ongoing 'Open Happiness' initiative (via Jonathan Mildenhall, VP of Creative @ Coca Cola).  Open Happiness has been running since 2009 and is a great example of how many different executions can be developed from one truly fertile big idea.  I'm also amazed at how many different ways Coke and their respective agencies have been able to bring the 'Open Happiness' idea to life through various owned assets such as Coca-Cola trucks, vending machines, etc.

The latest execution seems to be a natural extension of last year's Coca-Cola Re:Brief project which delivered on the brand promise from the classic 'Hilltop' TV ad of forty years ago, allowing people around the world to buy a stranger a Coke from the web.

The 'Small World machines' video shows vending machines using streaming video to allow customers at one vending machine to see and interact with a person in front of a Coke machine in another part of the world.  The two geographically separated people must then virtually join hands to draw a heart and earn a Coke.  It's a nice way to deliver on the idea that Coke is something that connects people in spite of their differences.  I'm looking forward to see how this worlds in the real-world.  In the meantime, check out the video below:

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Escape Flight

Escape Flight is a new travel site/service that flips the traditional model of planning and booking travel online.  Rather than start with a destination in mind, Escape Flight asks the user what attributes they're looking for in a getaway.  As their site descibes, Escape flight is 'a free service that has been specifically designed for people in big cities who need a last-minute getawar, but can't afford to do all the ground work themselves.  We have created a one-stop, travel-agent-defying algorithm that considers; your personal interests, the weather, your preferred airport, flight times, potential destinations (...including how easy they are to reach), even if there is an event on you might like, and of course not forgetting the cost.'
This idea isn't necessarily new, in fact there was a great piece of Miami Ad School student work that was similar, but based strictly on the weather requirements of the traveler.  I believe that I've also seen this sort of functionality buried in the booking options of other airlines sites.  The point is that none of the major travel players are really thinking about how to meet the needs of the traveler in non-traditional ways.  Escape Flight have brought the idea of interest/attribute based travel booking to the forefront in a both delightful and useful way.  It's crazy to me that big travel brands or travel aggregators aren't leading the way in terms of providing this sort of functionality as it resolves an inherent tension in the current travel process as well as serving an unmet need for potential travelers.

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Mohan Music Palace - Harmonium Banner

Here's a really nice use of rich media advertising. Developed by Web Chutney for New Delhi based Mohan Music Palace, the banner aims to help stem the decline in usage of the Harmonium, a traditional Indian musical instrument.  Targeted at various music sites and users who showed an affinity for musical instruments, the banner turned users laptops into a digital harmonium replicating the experience of playing the Harmonium.  Not only does the ad demonstrate a clever user of rich media technology, it was also extremely effective in terms of  interaction rates and an uptick quote requests.  Just goes to show that rich media ads can be an effective tool when used properly.  Check out the case study below.

via: Leon Bayliss

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Le Trefle - Emma

This is just a lovely piece of work from Leo Burnett France for French paper company, Le Trefle, reminding us that we'll always need paper, at least in some aspects of our lives.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Chrome Super Sync Sports

As regular readers of this blog know, I'm somewhat obsessed with media bridging experiences.  That is, how do you seamlessly (relatively speaking) bridge an experience between desktop and mobile, or how do you create a bridge between a digital billboard and your smartphone, etc, etc.  My esteemed colleagues at the Google Creative Lab here in London have also been thinking about the same thing from an even broader perspective.  They have just launched a delightful new experience called Chrome Super Sync Sports that uses 'HTML5 features such as WebSockets for real-time gaming synchronicity on desktop and mobile, and Canvas and CSS3 for rich and engaging visuals.'  Here's how it works (as described in the official Google blog post):

'Smartphones and tablets are great for all sorts of games, and lately we've been thinking about new ways to play. Chrome Super Sync Sports is a new Chrome Experiment that uses the unique features of mobile devices to create a new gaming experience on big and small screens. In this game up to four friends can compete in running, swimming and cycling on a shared computer screen, using their smartphones or tablets as game controllers.'

Check out the overview video below and have a play around yourself at Chrome Super Sync Sports.

SafeStyle Windows - Secret Door

You don't need to be a big brand or have a huge marketing budget to create an amazing digital experience.  Case in point, see this beautiful and delightful experience created by Safestyle UK.  Safestyle are 'the largest independent company in the UK that provides top-quality, affordable uPVC double glazed windows, doors, French doors, sliding patio doors and composite doors.'  Perhaps not the most obvious candidate to create an immersive experience using Google Streetview, but that's the power of the web.  It democratizes marketing and provides the means to reach a tremendous audience without needing a massive budget (case in point see Dollar Shave Club or Orabrush on YouTube).   Interestingly, I've read articles that indicate that this is an SEO play by Safestyle UK to maintain it's organic search position.  Whatever the objective, it's a lovely experience for the user.

But I digress...the idea behind the Secret Door is that you step through it and are transported to some of the 'most quirky and interesting places Google Maps has to offer.'  The experience is essentially a curated version of Google Streetview (both indoor and outdoor) and provides serendipity and delight as you allow the Secret Door to take you to various places around the world.

Additionally the site can be embedded around the web, ensuring the experience can be spread far and wide.  So have a play around with the experience which is embedded below.
The Secret Door
The Secret Door is presented by Safestyle UK

Malmo Hardware Store - Toolpool

The past several years has a tremendous rise in the number of sharing (p2p or otherwise) and on-demand services that are disrupting existing business models.  Service like Zipcar, AirBNB, TaskRabbit, etc. are changing traditional models of ownership and resourcing.  Considering how potentially disruptive these types of services can be to existing business models, it's surprising that more brands haven't recognized the potential in these sharing services as an alternative to ownership of their products.

One business that has embraced the on-demand usage model is Malmo Hardware store.  They've developed a Zipcar-like service for power tools, called ToolPool.  As their agency, The Fan Club, describes:
'Malmö Hardware Store needed an idea to be able to compete with the giant home improvement chains that are taking over the market. We learned that the stores main earnings comes from supplies, not from expensive tools. So we created ToolPool. It works just like a carpool, but with tools. And it's for free. All we ask for in return is that you share our message on Facebook.
During the very first month, ToolPool received extensive media coverage, over 600 members and sales in the store increased by 25%.'

It's a wonderful example of service design.  See the overview video below.

via: Yosuke Suzuki

Audi RS4 - Ultimate Paintball Duel

I think of the Audi station wagon (errr...estate car as it's called over here) as a boring staple of the British upper-middle classes.  Generally speaking, estate cars/station wagons are thought of as boring family-mobiles that just appeal to Moms.  Audi's challenge is to shift the stigma away from estate cars and demonstrate the performance and handling of their recently relaunched RS4 wagon.  Rather than just talk about specs like the 450hp V-8 engine, Audi's agency Rubber Republic have brought the promise of the RS4 to life through a top-gearesque paintball duel.  You may remember Rubber Republic from their awesome Bodyform response video work.  In this case, they've enlisted two of the best UK stunt drivers (check out the behind the scenes video here) in 'two brand new 2013 RS 4 Avants with bonnet mounted paintball guns take over a military aircraft hangar and go head to head in the ultimate paintball duel.'  The result is sheer joy to behold & a perfect way to appeal to a male audience all of whom believe they could secretly be race car drivers.

Check it out below.
via: Yoram Cisinski

TED - 3rd Annual Ads Worth Spreading Winners

The winners of the 3rd annual TED - Ads Worth Spreading initiative have been announced at the the recent TED conference.  So what makes an Ad Worth Spreading?  Well it's worth watching the original TED talk from Chris Anderson, but as Ronda Carnegie, Head of Global Partnerships at TED, says:
'The best ads are excellent content--driven by ideas. Culturally relevant content with strong storytelling has the power to spark change, raise awareness, and communicate new ways of thinking...
...The ads selected have a common thread around human connection.  They create contagious emotion around wonder, imagination, culture, humor, and ingenuity.'

Most of these have been featured on the blog at some point in the past, but it's worth twenty minutes of your time to view them all.  See below for a handy playlist with the 10 winning videos.

According to the YouTube blog:

Ads were nominated in six categories: Talk, Social Good, Cultural Compass, Creative Wonder, Brand Bravery, and Education. Six nomination teams made up of one TED speaker and one rising thinker in advertising searched for ads in each category, while 25 leading figures in the ad industry searched for ads across categories.

Each of these ten ads go beyond the creative brief to spark imagination and create moments of emotional connection with audiences. The winning work will be showcased at TED2013 as well as on TED.com and you can watch them all here on YouTube. Combined, they have been viewed more than 100 million times on YouTube.

Bus Stop Ads - The Good, The Bad & The Excellent

I thought it'd be interesting to change gears a bit and showcase some interesting (both good and bad) work from the out of home world, namely bus stop/bus shelter advertising.

The Good - First up is a nice stunt from Qualcomm which effectively delivers on the tagline 'We make life better with mobile.'  Check it out below:

The Bad - Next up is a stunt from the Weather Channel to promote their mobile app which tells users the exact time when rain will start or stop.  Since the Weather Channel takes the guesswork out of weather forecasts, they wanted to see people get caught in the rain one last time.  To do so, they outfitted a bus stop with a rain machine.  Call me crazy, but I'd be pissed off if I'm sitting there waiting for my bus and a brand decides that they're going to make it rain on me.  I wouldn't exactly be rushing to download the app after that moment of unexpected precipitation.

The Excellent - Last up is from SAS in Norway.  To show off the array of new sunny destinations that the airline services, JCDecaux outfitted a bus stop with what looks like an airplane window.  Users who pull up the window shade are presented with videos from one of the sixteen new destinations.  It's a great way to grab the attention of people who, by definition, have some free time on their hands while waiting for a bus.  It's also a perfect execution considering the winter weather in Norway and other Northern European countries, coupled with the universal desire to get away to sunnier climes.