This is more like it Adidas, genuinely funny and living up to the ‘originals’ name. “I don’t like you either, fool!”
This advert makes me really, seriously uncomfortable. I don’t know whether its the unnerving CGI, the fact that I can’t help but feel concerned that the babies are going to do themselves some serious physical damage breakdancing on tarmac, or that the ad’s creators were so lazy as to use such an obvious backing song as Rapper’s Delight.
Still, what do I know? The video’s been watched more than 8.5 million times, putting it firmly in the category ‘viral sensation’, as marketing departments around the world scratch their heads trying to figure out why this one has caught on and theirs hasn’t. I’m not sure there’s an obvious rhyme or reason as to why certain virals spread (such as the Cadbury’s Gorilla) and others don’t. I do know that the Gorilla doesn’t directly make me want to eat chocolate and the babies don’t directly make me want to drink water. The value these videos create is increasing the value/coolness of the brand itself in the minds of people who enjoy them, and make them something they choose to be associated with.
Giddy from just finishing David Ogilvy’s wonderful book, Confessions of an Advertising Man, I was excited to stumble across AMC and marketing agency Deep Focus’s Mad Men Yourself site. Launched in preparation for Mad Men season 3 premiere in mid-August, the site allows you to create a personalised avatar for both ‘suits’ and ‘skirts’ in a variety of cool 50’s Madison Avenue style clothes and accessories.
The end output is an avatar of your character (small & large) as well as a scene of said avatar in a Mad Men setting, such as the bar, Sterling Cooper’s offices or even Don Draper’s House.
There isn’t anything technologically revolutionary about this at all, but there doesn’t have to be. This is a well executed viral as it actively made me want to create a character for the setting and to share it with people. I guess creating something like this is easier when you have a fundamentally cool product like Mad Men, but still – good show.
This viral anti-knife crime awareness campaign is a Met Police initiative through their Drop The Weapons website. Click on the video to start the story, and when prompted choose between different options to open up a the video in a new window, “choose your own adventure” style.
NFC tech has been cropping up on my radar a lot more recently, so I rocked along to the most recent Mobile Monday (if you’re not signed up and have an interest in mobile, sort yourself out) last week to see Proxama and o2 talk about the technology and its applications. There are tons of new technologies that are/were supposed to be the next big thing, but o2 ran an NFC trial recently and the outcome is definitely worth paying attention to.
The trial covered using a NFC equipped Nokia for transport (Oyster), payments (Barclaycard-Visa), access control (VIP entrance into the o2) and smart posters. The more interesting results are that 9/10 trialists were comfortable using the technology and 78% said they would like to use their phone to pay/travel in the future. People were more interested in using the Oyster functionality than the payments functionality, which makes sense. The Suica card in Japan works in the same way as the Oyster, and mobile operator Au has a Suica SIM card service that is tremendously popular. When it comes to the lower interest in the NFC payments, the MoMo panel believed people are only getting used to the chip & PIN system and have new tech fatigue, but I have to think that people are (at this stage) just not familiar enough using their phones for anything bar SMS and calls to be secure making payments on it just yet.
There’s no doubt in my mind that payments and transport will be the foundation that widespread NFC adoption will have to be built on, but the more interesting aspect from a creative advertising point of view is what can be done with smart posters. I’m a big believer that there are only two things that deliver real value in the digital world – utility and content. On the utility front, I like the idea of a person touching a smart poster for a concert with their phone and getting gig info & a click-through-to-buy-ticket option, which cuts out the middle step on the whole shortcode to WAP push that we’re used to. As far as content goes, you could have a NFC/Bluetooth combo where the user could download an exclusive music video or a trailer and passes it on to others virally.
Still, seeing as we won’t have a critical mass of NFC equipped phones till 2011-2013 at the earliest, this is all pipe dream stuff at the moment. It’s true that NFC won’t have the same problems getting adopted that say i-mode did, as o2 aren’t looking for exclusivity. However the panel at MoMo did make it clear that there are a large number of stakeholders (banks, operators, handset makers etc) to satisfy to get things going, as each party feels that the customer/user belongs to them. I think NFC will make it though, as there seems to be enough diverse high level players taking an interest at this early stage to help it progress.
Twix have got a ‘Get the Girl’ interactive game going on their main site at the moment. It’s buggy (almost every time I play, it freezes at some stage) and a wee bit too cheesy, but in spite of that I can’t help but like it. It involves your Twix-munching “Joe Sixpack” (thanks Sarah) protagonist trying to get the girl-next-door back to his place while avoiding the weird best friend, sexy ex and his own stupidity. A lot of time definitely went into the game, and the high production values and situations held my attention longer than most interactive virals have to date.
Twix’s creative agency Nitro are responsible for the piece (and some nice rollover banner ads), which follows from their Chew it Over campaign. I’d like to see a UK version (ideally starring Kirsty Gallagher), but I don’t know that Twix has enough products for sale on this side of the pond to be motivated enough to knock it out.
Stats say that the US numbers for Facebook and Myspace are down in early 2008. The backlash against social network apps in in full swing…
… so much so that Facebook is cleaning up its profile pages so that apps will be listed in a separate tab to the combined wall/newsfeed, while the wild west “forced invite 100 friends to get the result of the ‘which German philosopher are you?’ quiz practices than some app developers use to boost app distribution have also been outlawed.
So why have apps become unpopular? A quick straw poll of my friends reinforces the conventional wisdom here – people are sick of streams of useless apps. A live poll taken at the last London Facebook Developers Garage confirmed the same, with a large majority of regular users surveyed saying that apps were good for “nothing” rather than other options such as “irritating people” and “connecting with friends”. Given this backlash, it was interesting timing for the Developers Garage to see how app developers and organisations are reacting to this change in user behaviour.
One such interesting company is business collaboration, communication and project management network Huddle. Huddle produce a rivalling service to Google docs, where multiple users in a workgroup (or “huddle” if you will) can upload, edit and comment on documents. Huddle have made a useful app whereby you can use their service through Facebook effectively. The app is integrated with the main Huddle site so regardless of whether you work through Facebook or the main Huddle portal, you can still collaborate effectively. Huddle are looking to expand the service to Myspace and LinkedIn, which is easy to do these days as SOAP can be used to link Huddle’s platform to multiple platforms. This allows users freedom to use Huddle whatever way they like wherever they like, especially if they already spend a lot of time doing work through Facebook (who are implementing plans to add a Googletalk-style IM client) or LinkedIn.
The goal of this app from Huddle’s viewpoint is to generate a buzz about the product and to encourage people to come to the mail Huddle site and monetise them by encouraging them to sign up for their premium services. Conversely Huddle are pushing the app through their site, which is sending users TO Facebook rather than the other way around but does have the benefit of creating buzz.
Another interesting app discussed at the Garage was the ‘Become Rambo’ app developed by UK company Wakari, who were contracted by digital agency Spinnaker as part of their advertising campaign for the new Rambo film for Sony Pictures. Long story short, Lionsgate in the US (who had the distribution rights for across the pond) hired another agency there, who also decided to make a Rambo Facebook app (‘Get Rambo’d’). Both of these rival apps were based loosely on the Superpoke concept, as in “A attacks B with C”, seeing as Rambo mainly assaults people. The key factor in the success of the Become Rambo app was the extra functionality; while Get Rambo’d just had options for attacking, Become Rambo included a points scoring system (if you hit the max then you get to fight Rambo), a health bar that can be refilled through invitations, and a wide variety of weapons to unlock.
The Get Rambo’d app is a great example of how to add a fun app that engages users. The average for the app was 200 returns per user, which was built through being clever with viral distribution and creating a ranking system to encourage interaction and competition between friends. This benefits the users, who are having fun with the app, and the advertisers as the app is driving the users towards their content. A comparison between the two Rambo apps showed that the ‘Become Rambo’ app held users attention for much longer as there were reasons to come back.
For me, companies like Huddle and Wakari are leading the way in the social networking app space. Rather than just building for the sake of it, they have created two very different apps that actually add value to the user. Overall the backlash against social networks and apps is a good thing – it should thin the market of the weaker and irritating apps and the more useful and fun apps should well emerge at the end. This change is being led by social network users, and as seen above, the likes of Facebook is listening and making changes. I think the craze and newness of social networks has worn off (all old school friends have been tracked down at this stage!) but with the app streamlining and noise reduction beginning, there will be a more gradual growth rate and stabilisation in the space as social networks become an everyday part of our lives.
(Thanks as always to Techcrunch for their up-to-date Facebook news!)