Just like most marketers, I’m always looking for innovative ways to draw attention and get the message out. Sometimes, a bunch of buzz is generated for an execution that seems – on the surface – like it is a brilliant use of the technology. Unfortunately, when you actually check it out, it leaves a little to be desired when it comes to actually conveying the product’s narrative. One such case is the French adventure/outdoor products company, Quechua, and the Facebook Timeline piece they launched yesterday to launch their new commercial. The concept was cool, but in practice, the experience was clunky and actually acted counter to the product they were trying to promote. It certainly begs the question whether buzz about marketing products is good even when that execution is not all it can be.
The Quechua Experiment is getting buzz specifically as the “First Scrollable Commercial on Facebook Timeline.” I don’t know how much people were waiting for that feat to be attained, but the buzz it’s generating is technically correct. In this case, is that such a cool thing or just a media hook? When a user goes to www.facebook.com/QuechuaExperiment, they are asked to scroll down on their timeline and push the equivalent “more” button 15 times. Once at the bottom, press both the SHIFT and SPACE buttons to start the frame-by-frame movement upwards through the images in the Timeline.
Essentially, they are trying to explain the benefits of their 2 second tent with a web mechanic that, annoyingly, takes much longer to experience. When you look at the “video”, it provides beautiful imagery that makes people want to camp out in the wilderness and, at the end, shows how simple it is to break the tent down when you are done. It’s frustrating because we always talk about how interactivity makes the experience deeper for the user – yet this interactivity takes away from the original source of the information, which is the beautiful video. If all you are getting is another version of the video, is it worth it? It should have been as quick and simple as the ”flick of a wrist” that it takes to set up the tent…
Courtesy of Quechua
The company seems to be cutting-edge in general – not just in the materials they use, but in their marketing. One such example is a beautiful commercial for their products – melding the campers and the environment beautifully – and then enabling a rich behind the scenes environment through technology to explore more. I give them and their agency, Fred + Farid credit for trying new things with this Facebook Timeline execution, but I think the actual mechanics of it miss the mark.
I can’t fault them as they are getting buzz about it. I’m just saddened when a good mechanic is not optimized to become a great marketing product. With the emphasis being placed on being the first ones to try something, you really want that “first time” to be something really special. I don’t feel they’ll get anything negative from this and I definitely wouldn’t have known about their products had it not been for the buzz – so that’s a positive for them. I’m just looking at it as a marketing product, and the full mechanic didn’t convey the product benefits as best it could have. I almost would have rather them had a tongue-in-cheek message that it will take longer for the user to experience the marketing than it would to either set up the tent or take it down.
In the end, I would rather the good buzz support a good marketing mechanic – something that better conveys the product. Additionally, except for in the most extreme cases, buzz is mostly good for a product. I’m always up for some good buzz – I just get disheartened when it leads to a marketing execution that is not all it could have been.
Posted in Core
Tagged Adventure, Buzz, Camper, Commercial, Creative, Environment, Execution, Facebook Timeline, Fred+Farid, Innovation, Marketing, Mechanics, Narrative, Quechua, Tents, Video
I’m sort of sad that I missed the announcement on April 20th about an online game celebrating the Grateful Dead. The timing of the announcement and the official launch was the only thing that really makes sense to me. Though it is a little too “spot on” with a release on that date for a jam band that was as much known for its relationship to drugs as it was for the actual music, the annual date celebrating marijuana (4/20) is perfect for them. Sadly, by my missing that date, it sheds a light on everything that is not right with the product itself. But as I’ve maintained a lot over the years, staying true to the story is the most important thing. This one really makes me question whether it is really brilliant in being lame…
Adam Blumenthal, a representative of the game’s creator (Curious Sense) seemed to echo Rhino’s aims of staying away from the drug references and going after a younger demographic:
“There’s nothing explicit,” said Blumenthal, who was bound to keep the game family friendly. “The visuals are psychedelic, they’re fantastical, they’re colorful, they’re whimsical but no drug references.”
That’s fine if the primary goal weren’t to collect “seed” to be able to deal with obstacles and get to the next level. In Blumenthal’s defense, he didn’t say that there was nothing implicit. Beyond that, the gameplay is somewhat old-school and I don’t know that it would actually draw in a younger audience that the gatekeepers are looking for.
But, you could argue that the game, the music, the release date and much more work perfectly as extensions of the band. The game creators even declined to have an end to the game specifically because it didn’t make sense to – in relation to the band and its music. The band and its followers (Dead Heads) were always thought of as being salt of the earth-type people, so the simplicity of the game might have something to do with it. In reality, the music was something that you could just drop into and stay within for days. It wasn’t about the long jams alone – it was about the type of music and the people who followed it. The game makes use of music from ten concerts that are thought to be some of their greatest. As you travel through the levels, players are treated to huge amounts of those jams.
It wasn’t unusual to run into Dead Heads who followed the group around for tens of shows or more in a row. The scene surrounding the shows were almost as entertaining as the shows themselves. Were they the best band ever? Doubtful. But the vibe they presented was something else that brought a type of fan that is rare.
So, if the game makers and the gatekeepers of the Dead were looking to extend the essence of what the Grateful Dead was all about for a new audience (and even re-invigorating the old audience) – where you can lose yourself for a number of hours – they seem to have pulled it off brilliantly.
The following campaign blurb was really exciting until the third line where it describes throwing a consumer on the top of a van:
The makers of Stride gum will go to extreme lengths to have consumers upgrade to Stride 2.0. Stride’s CEO, a human billboard at a mall, accosts a consumer unwilling to upgrade his gum. The CEO hops on a skateboard and chases the young man throughout the mall, eventually catching him and throwing him atop a waiting van. After switching the gum, the CEO hops into the van, driven by snowboarder Shaun White.
Stride is usually pretty good at being ahead of the curve technology-wise (incorporating color QR codes early-on) so I was assuming they were doing the same here. The thing is, it was all just in a video created by JWT NEW YORK. And it did not happen in a real environment like I was hoping.
I thought they had taken the step that might have been thought of as Science Fiction Fantasy when the billiboards were interacting with consumers in the film, MINORITY REPORT. That fantasy is absolutely doable now with the progress in RFID, displays, bluetooth, wi-fi and cloud-computing. You can see elements of it in place in Japan and you will see more of it here when Apple incorporates RFID in iPhone 5.
Companies have made good use of RFID on a limited scale for marketing with the strongest example being the Israel Coca-Cola Village event last Summer that incorporated Facebook. That experience made it simple, immediate and cool to share socially, but there are so many opportunities to build a phenomenal narrative and emotional connection with consumers in the near future.
In simplest terms, imagine that the Stride video was cut into pieces so that consumers could feel that they were the ones being followed through a mall like the Culver City Westfield – where the video was actually filmed. As the user with an RFID transmitter passed by the specific displays, the videos could be presented progressively - taking them through the narrative. Certainly, within the next 6-9 months, those folks who have the RFID transmitter would be the most likely to like and engage with the guy pestering them – they just don’t seem like the types who would get annoyed by it. As part of the experience, there would hopefully be kiosks that allow interaction – whether just posting to FB or registering to get a coupon sent to their email or SMS.
This really is not so far in the future – with a number of groups already developing the technology. It just takes a strong advertiser with the correct target audience (like Stride is going after) to pull the trigger smartly. It can be done on a small scale in strategically placed locations. But, don’t forget to get all your ducks in a row to have your PR and Digital teams ready to pounce and leverage all the buzz, video, etc to turn it into something much bigger than a local execution.
Also, don’t forget to credit Scarlet Strategic with the idea. Better yet, come to us and we’ll execute the whole thing for you!
Posted in Core
Tagged Apple, Bluetooth, Consumers, Displays, Experience, Facebook, iPhone 5, JWT New York, MINORITY REPORT, Narrative, PR, RFID, Scarlet Strategic, SMS, Strategy, Stride, Stride 2.0, Wifi