And this time out, we’re featuring our top 10 most unique ad innovations – only a few of which have been featured in any of our other Top 10 lists, mostly because these kinds of innovations don’t always easily fit into established categories.
What’s of note here is how many of these involve 3D printing, and how many are print+interactive executions - and not of the usual scan-a-QR-code-to-access-content, or the scan-an-AR-marker-to-enhance-the-experience, varieties.
Others are just, well, out there - in a fun, funky way. Enjoy!
Without a doubt, the boldest advertising innovation of the year. This is the only brand we noticed to employ teledildonics in its marketing all year. Which begs the question: Why didn’t Trojan think of this?
With that, we congratulate all of our 2013 GEN WOW AWARD winners. Here's to some outstanding work in the year gone by - and the promise of new, exciting things to come in 2014.
But when something truly catches fire, the results can be spectacular.
With that in mind, we present our list of the Top 10 Best Branded Viral Videos for 2013.
By “branded,” we mean the piece was developed to promote a brand (even if, in some cases, the brand was the video’s creator).
By “viral,” we mean it took off in some form, whether it was an online original or simply a heavily shared TV spot (that’s where the “strategy” versus “outcome” part comes in – some of these had heavy media support to ensure their “virility.” Which gets to our next point).
By “best,” we mean according to our purely subjective and, as you’ll see, heavily biased point of view. Some of these were indeed monster hits in terms of views and shares. But a list built on those scores alone would look quite different than ours.
In other words, these were just some of our personal favorites.
Kobi Bryant and Lionel Messi are back in this ridiculously popular follow-up to their 2012 Legends on Board video. To us, this had more meaning to us than Legends, as it promoted the airline’s value proposition in a way to which the first only nodded. And let’s face it, 2013 was all about the selfie and photo bombing. So extra points for currency.
Call them 2013’s answer to Psy. Love it or hate them, this promotional piece from Vegard and Bard Ylvisaker put the Canadian brothers on the pop culture map with 275 million views and a spot on Billboard’s Top 10 songs, according to the Financial Post. Still, for all the uproar, I’m a little surprised nobody’s yet done a mash up of this and video from Fox News.
It does seem that late-year entrants have snagged a number of our top spots this year. Maybe it’s just proximity to exposure. But it’s not without dangers. At least one critic compared Apple’s holiday spot to the “mid-century effort by the tobacco industry to assuage fears about its products,” adding that “Apple knows it has turned us into iZombies and has become defensive about it.” In this particular critic’s mind, Apple seemed to be saying “Buy an iPhone in order to get in touch with loved ones sitting on the couch next to you.” Point taken. But caught up in the holiday glow, we bought into it ... and immediately took to our iPhones to share it, like the good little iZombies we are.
Definitely in the love-it-or-hate-it department, this spot from Poo Pourri (full disclosure: a client) brought together the considerable talent of the Jeffrey and Daniel Harmon (of Orabrush fame), writer/director Joel Ackerman, star Bethany Woodruff and an army of others for what Buzzfeed called ‘The Most Epic Sh*t-Related Ad Ever.’ Not everyone was quite so enthusiastic. Earlier this week, USA Today named it one of the five worst ads of 2013 (as did Kmart’s “Ship My Pants,” by the way), saying “maybe there's room for Poo-Pourri somewhere in the marketplace. But nowhere, in a civilized society, is there room for this ad.”While admittedly biased, we will point out in Poo Pourri’s defense that there’s really nothing in this spot you wouldn’t find in an SNL spoof commercial, and was designed to appeal to the same demographic. We also have it on good authority that sales went through the roof. And bottom line, we think it's repulsively (and ingeniously) hilarious.
One beauty of a campaign: Pereira O'Dell's social media film for the Intel Toshiba partnership has been awarded the Film/Branded Content & Cyber Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. The six week series, called "The Beauty Inside," stars Topher Grace as Alex, who wakes up every day in a different body - each new body played by a cast of consumers who auditioned via Facebook for their roles. The strange adventure, which Alex chronicles on his Intel-powered Toshiba laptop (naturally), gets problematic when the body-switching character falls in love.
Yet another reason Coca-Cola was named Creative Marketer of the Year at Cannes this year. This "Wearable Movie" concept, from Ogilvy and Psyop, is so simple and yet so true to the nature of the brand. Here, users participate in the creation of a short film featuring a beloved brand - and become the viral engine by which it is spread. It's enough for any brand - and its army of fans – to smile.
I write extensively about the power of Dove's 'Campaign for Real Beauty' in my book, THE ON-DEMAND BRAND; I got seriously caught up with "Real Beauty Sketches" (see YouTube video, above). As a husband and father, I think this is another fantastic effort. As a marketer, I think it's the latest in what has been the perfect blend of cause + commerce. Kudos to all involved.
One of the best signs for the future of mobile marketing comes in the fact that so many of our favorites appear on a number of other lists of GEN WOW winners for 2013 - indicating a level of integration we had not yet seen in the evolution of what is obviously the most measurable, personal and direct link to consumers ever created.
It's also worth noting that none of these have much to do with anything called "mobile advertising" of the "Oh, look, Facebook has mobile ads now" variety.
Most, in fact, involve highly engaging experiences involving games, helpful information or actual utilities.
Our purely subjective favorites of the year include:
Sure, the promotional video is going to make your skin crawl. But this branded game from Stride and W+K does seems like a fun way to have your game and chew it, too. That's because the game uses your iPhone camera to detect your mouth movements to control the onscreen hero, Ace (bonus points for including the ability to share images of your crazy jaw action to share on social media.) Let's just hope the flavor lasts long enough to win during gameplay, though. Otherwise, the whole adventure may leave a, er, bad taste in your mouth.
This year, Lexus was pushing the limits again - just in time for this year's big SI Swimsuit Issue. There was that 3D projection mapping experience on an LA Hotel a while back. And last October, the brand brought a print ad to life with the help of a handy iPad. This time out, Lexus went a bit simpler, keying into QR codes - the scanning of which reveals models hidden in SI print ads for the new IS. And as you'll see in our list of Top 10 Best in in Digital Out-of-Home 2013, it was also just the opening act in an integrated camapaign that included Sport Illustrated's first-ever 3D projection mapping experience on the facade at Caesar's Las Vegas (the development of which comes from Go2 Productions, the same team that worked on our 3D projection experience for a recent client event featuring a private concert by TRAIN).
Okay, not technically mobile marketing, but print in the service of mobile. Here, NIVEA has found a way to let you keep enjoying those summer rays - without having to worry about your mobile phone going dead. This print ad from GiovanniDraftFCB in Brazil is just the latest example of print meeting digital for some very cool results (see recent Fanta-flavored, iPod-amping print ads for a few more).
As an Apple devotee, it pains me to say that Samsung's marketing in the mobile wars is increasingly impressive (and scathing) - especially the ads mocking iPhone fans waiting in long lines for the next iPhone. And in 2013, this effort from BBDO New Zealand raises the bar. Galaxy fans could skip ahead by tweeting. Brilliant. And you won't believe the results.
What JJ Abrams did for "Star Trek" and "Mission Impossible" with the ActionFX app, Disney's doing with its treasure trove of characters via its new Infinity Action! app. As a tie-in with its new Infinity game, this app allows you to create short videos using a host of popular Disney characters and 30 different animations and props, that they can then share on their soc-nets. Kids (and a fair number of parents) are certain to love this - and it's a great way to turn advertising into a participatory experience.
It's looking like Chipotle has scored big with a new mobile campaign centered on YouTube video and mobile game. As Venture Beat reports, Chipotle and Moonbot Studios produced an animated film and mobile game as part of its overall "Food with Integrity" campaign. Here's the thing: As a branding initiative, it's generating boffo results. In its first two weeks, the YouTube video saw 6.5 million views. And within four days of the mobile game's release on the App Store, it was downloaded 250,000 times, making it the top 15 free iOS apps in the U.S.
What are the Geico lizard or old Mayhem going to make of this? More importantly, what might they do with it? An insurance company called RSA in the Middle East has created an interactive print ad that enables readers to ask for a quote, no mobile phone or other consumer device required, though the quote comes back via the reader's mobile phone (which obviously provides the brand with contact information it could use for follow up communications). As part of the brand's "Easy as Ever" promise, the medium is quite literally the message - an innovative "wow" moment that directly delivers on the brand's positioning.
Paintlist is bringing new color to your playlist. The app, launched by Dutch Boy Paints, uses songs stored on your phone or the phone's microphone to identify a song, and then analyzes it to suggest several color palettes based on things like tempo and beat. As you might expect, fast, upbeat music favored by many millennials results in recommendations for vibrant colors - and slow, dramatic music results in more muted tones.
It might be the ultimate ice cream topping: This augmented reality concerto lasts just long enough for the ice cream to soften up just right. A very nice branding moment for connecting with certain customer segments.
In fact, the whole package-top motif took off big time this year. In one GEN WOW-winning effort from Domino's Japan, an iPhone app featuring a hugely popular, yet completely make-believe, virtual music star named Hatsune Miku, enables you to point your phone at a pizza box and enjoy a special, augmented reality performance from Miku.
Call it Father's Day, come early. This device, synced to Mom's belly, is sure to result in a powerful moment for Dad. And it's a blockbuster way to cement the Huggies brand into these new parents' minds. Maybe every expectant father should do this.
We've lost count of how many of our lists include this GEN WOW winner from a New Zealand-based pizza chain called Hell Pizza. its very cool augmented reality game continues the package-top trend this year, and pits pizza fans against (what else) zombies straight from, well, Hell. Righteous.
Call it text books by texting. This year, DDB Manila and telecom company Smart Communications won the Mobile Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival with an effort that seems like the perfect mix of cause + commerce.
Agree with our list? What made yours? Share - and let's discuss what it all means as we look ahead to 2014 and beyond.
It's called the DomiCopter. And long before Jeff Bezos struck PR gold with his concept for Amazon deliveries via drone, Domino's was actually prototyping it. A little slice of heaven? Maybe it's the whole pie.
Talk about armchair travel: This initiative enabled you control a person outfitted with audio video tech who will do what you ask him to do so you can tour Melbourne before you actually go - vicariously taking in the sites and sounds you want to experience.
The Ultimate Driving Machine recently used projection mapping to launch a social racing game designed to promote the new 1 Series automobile in South Africa. Players driving via a Galaxy tablet, and their scores are posted on a real-time Facebook leader board and shared with friends. And the best drivers in each location in which the game was hosted won prizes. Game on.
Project Colour from ad agency DLKW is designed to help students in school think creatively. And it's just one awesome (and heartwarming) way this real-time technology can be used. It also happens to be just one example of how social media sometimes doesn't require others to log into a social platform in order to participate.
In my book THE ON-DEMAND BRAND, I look at how MINI created similar experiences to this using RFID chips in driver key fobs. Here, Coca-Cola accomplishes it via geofencing. While it's not as compelling - the user would need to download an app to experience this - the concept is fun and makes otherwise prosaic advertising supremely personal.
Only true Canadians drink Molson Canadian. But they're going to have to prove it, first. The "beer fridge" traveled around cities throughout Europe - but could only be opened by scanning a Canadian passport. Which is only fitting for a brand whose tagline is "I am Canadian." Though for those without the appropriate papers, it's probably a bit coquettish, too. Maybe not the best way to get others to sample your beer. But it is, however, an outstanding way to cement your brand with the home team. And as Adweek points out, it sure beats the ad agency whose beer fridge only opened when everyone had done their time sheets. Now that's cruel, eh?
This year, SI took the whole Strip thing to a whole new level - with a little help from Lexus. On the heels of the duo's QR code-enabled interactive print ad, the brands used Caesars Las Vegas as the canvas for a rip-roaring 3D projection mapping experience last night, featuring models from this year's big Swimsuit Edition. There are lots of things for fans of the annual issue to like - including building-size views of Kate Upton and her fellow SI models - with 3D elements, no less.
In an initiative promoting Qualcomm's mobile solutions, this bus stop ad invites you to respond via mobile to experience the unexpected - including all manner of entertainment, and even a ride in a Lamborghini to your destination. In some respects, it's just the latest sign that outdoor may well be the new TV - not in reach, but in branded experiences that pack punch.
San Pellegrino may have one-upped Melbourne with this Avatar-in-Taormina experience - enabling you to control a robot on the streets of Sicily. Take in the sights. Chat up the locals. Your face even appears on the android's monitor. At first glance, robots may feel a bit off-brand, until you see how this works. I mean, who wouldn't enjoy a few minutes in Italy during a hectic day. Of course, switch out the R2D2 body and replace it with a Ferrari, and then I'd really feel amore.
There has long been a belief that popular culture breaks down barriers - the idea that engagement always trumps disengagement. That was true when it came to the Soviet Union. That's true when it comes to China. And to the extent than popular culture includes consumer products (it includes music, movies and fashion, so why not CPG?), Coca-Cola has always been at the forefront of cashing in on any peace dividend it could help create.
Okay, one moment of shameless self promotion here. We created this 3D projection mapping experience as part of a special event for our client LoopNet, and included a live concert by the band TRAIN, as part of a four-month integrated communications campaign that was awarded "Best of Show" at the International Summit Creative Awards (see a 2-minute video case study, here). The LA event itself was managed by Pearl Media, and the 3D animation was produced by Go2 Productions - the same team behind the Lexus/Sports Illustrated projection experience above. As you'll see in the case study, the results of this integrated campaign were astonishing. Which makes it our personal, purely-biased bonus favorite for the year.
It's nice to see a Super Bowl advertiser using what looks to be a very cool mobile augmented reality app as a way to engage fans in fun ways. Among other things, this Blippar-powered app enables you to shoot selfies with your favorite NFL players to show you're #fanenough. Can't wait to try it out!
Call them "adverpranks," "prankvertising" or just plain branded pranks.
Whatever the name, we love them - and from the volume of pranks pulled in 2013, it seems an increasing number of brands are finding it can pay big to play tricks on customers so other people can laugh at them.
Of course, having fun at other people's expense means the risks are high, the possible backlash profound. So how do brands punk their customers for fun and profits?
To that end, 10 of our favorites from world of it's-always-April-Fool's-Day advertising this year.
What initiatives made your list? Share them - and let's discuss the merits of what has to be the sleeper marketing approach of the year.
Benjamin Moore Paint pulled this prank just before Halloween. At the time, some suspected this was a fake – how many painters can you line up after-hours in a remote location? But if legit, this is a nice, harmless way to have your trick and treat at the same time.
Don't try this at home, folks. Sure, Coca-Cola may have been chastised for what some call a misleading TV spot about what it takes to burn off a can of cola. But if UK-based magician Dynamo is any indication, Pepsi Max seems to be suggesting it will have you feeling lighter than air in no time. In this outdoor stunt - part of Pepsi Max's #LiveForNow campaign - Dynamo seems to levitate on a London bus as it drives through crowded streets - and Londoners seem to be as thrilled as can be to find something to pass the time in the days before the birth of the royal baby. I never did hear if they were passing Pepsi Max around the palace when the little guy finally arrived.
Virgin knows how to turn heads - and make people's days. Not that it was without risk. As at least one pub points out, there may be some downside to suddenly assaulting a pedestrian with a ruckus when all they were hoping to do was take a respite from their "soul crushing day." Of course, reactions from catching the right people at the right time are half the fun of initiatives like this, which won a Silver Lion in PR at Cannes. Yet for all the excitement, it's the tag at the end of the video that I like best.
If you thought LG's elevator shaft and meteor strike pranks were scary, just wait until you see this. According to Mashable, this little initiative comes courtesy of the brand's UltraWide monitors, which were strategically placed above urinals in Amsterdam to show off the devices' lifelike colors - and just how many hues of red it can bring to men's faces. Average stage fright delay: 16 seconds. Failure to launch rate: 26%. Hilarity score: Approaching 100%.
In this amazing prank, Nivea put unsuspecting people waiting for airplanes in the unenviable position of being made out to be criminals on the run. They may need to throw in some all-expense-paid heart surgery after this one, too.
I got about half through before I realized how they were pulling this off. A very nice bit of viral promotion for the DVD release of 'Star Trek: Into Darkness.' I just wish one of the participants had been beamed back as Leonard Nimoy.
I freaking love this prank for the recent "Carrie" remake (YouTube video above). It's unclear from the video how the innocent passersby were dialed into the ad message before running out the door. Of course, given that they'd have to sign releases, I take it they got the point of the prank somehow. And as a viral video: GEN WOW indeed. It would have scared the crap out of anyone.
Just try to keep tears from being jerked when you view the brand's recent wedding day prank, which is part of its “Start something special” campaign. The bride-to-be’s family owns a number of Hondas, and even asked a local dealership for three CRVs to help with the wedding festivities. As Adweek puts it, they got a lot more than they expected - to the point that the brand may have upstaged the nuptials. But as a stunt, this one drives home an emotional bond between consumers and their favorite brands. Very nearly made our #1 spot.
That honor, however, goes to the prank that knocked all of our stockings off earlier this month: An epic promo from Canadian airline WestJet, which asked passengers about their holiday wish lists as they boarded a plane - and then had those gifts delivered to the baggage carousel at the passengers' destination.
These last two picks are instructive. As fun as it can be to reach out and freak someone, kindness wins out every time.
This recent initiative makes our list if for nothing else, its sheer cockiness. In the year's most daring brand stunt, Burger King Norway offered McDonald's Big Macs to go away and not be friends anymore. In fact, takers would be banned from the BK Facebook page henceforth. According to this case study video from DIST Creative (by way of AdAge), out of 38,000 total Facebook fans, a full 30,000 of them took the offer - leaving just 8,000 true, loyal fans (...or else very infrequent Facebook users...). And BK says it couldn't be happier, saying these fans are much more engaged and interact with the brand in a more positive manner.
This year, Wendy's had its social success with a side of hashtag. While Burger King US's social campaign for its Satisfries lower-fat French fries was seen by some as a royal fiasco, Wendy' #PretzelLoveStories earned serious buzz over an absurdist video soap opera series where actors use real, user-generated tweets as dialogue to hilarious effect. As Forbes puts it, the series relies on the one factor that reliably gets social media users engaged: "Unbelievably dumb stuff that's blow-milk-out-your-nose funny."
Be careful what you tweet for. It might literally send you packing. You have to love this latest installment of W+K's 'Departure Roulette' initiative for Heineken. If you missed the original, Heineken recently placed a billboard in airports to daring people to press the button to drop everything and go on free trip to whatever random location appears. As you can imagine, more than a few people took to Twitter to say they'd love to try this, had they seen it in an airport. Well now, the billboard has come to them, daring them to walk the talk - or the tweet, as the case may be. As you'll see, most are game - but not all are jazzed about the outcome.
As an Apple devotee, it pains me to say that Samsung's marketing in the mobile wars is increasingly impressive (and scathing) - especially the ads mocking iPhone fans waiting in long lines for the next iPhone. And now, this new effort from BBDO New Zealand raises the bar. Galaxy fans could skip ahead by tweeting. Brilliant. And you won't believe the results. Of course, none of it stopped the iPhone 5S from selling out in one day (sorry, had to get that in).
I'll drink to that. As I write in my book THE ON-DEMAND BRAND, we've reached a point now where brands should no longer view social media as a cool new way to connect with consumers. We must now view social media as a means by which we as brands can enable consumers not just to connect with us, but to each other. And not just in some virtual space, but in the physical world as well. This initiative can help break the ice in a social setting - as well as continue the conversation (and/or flirtation) after that beer (or the many, many beers, as the case may be) is gone. Cheers to Bud for the bold idea.
Who says Coke should have all the fun? This new machine from Pepsi doesn't take cash. It dispenses with a free soda for every Facebook 'Like' it receives. Which is one way to boost your Like counts - and a pretty tasty one, at that.
Yet another reason Coca-Cola was named Creative Marketer of the Year at Cannes this year. This "Wearable Movie" concept, from Ogilvy and Psyop, is so simple and yet so true to the nature of the brand. What I like about it is that it follows a concept that I talk about in my book THE ON-DEMAND BRAND, called "Accentuating the P.O.S.-itive - making brand experiences Personalizable, Ownable and Sharable. Here, users participate in the creation of a short film featuring a beloved brand - and become the viral engine by which it is spread. It's enough for any brand - and its army of fans – to smile.
Talk about one beauty of a campaign. Pereira O'Dell's social film for the Intel Toshiba partnership was awarded the Film/Branded Content & Cyber Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. The six-week series, called "The Beauty Inside," stars Topher Grace as Alex, who wakes up every day in a different body - each new body played by a cast of consumers who auditioned via Facebook for their roles. The strange adventure, which Alex chronicles on his Intel-powered Toshiba laptop (naturally), gets problematic when the body-switching character falls in love. According to Ad Age, the judges praised the quality of the production and story, which "represented a move forward in filmic and online storytelling," as the pub puts it. As tenuous as the connection to the Intel-based Toshiba product may be (based on this first episode - see YouTube window above – one could be forgiven for wondering whether it really matters which notebook the character uses) the effort lives up to a central tenet of THE ON-DEMAND BRAND, which is to move marketing away from using the web as merely a channel for message distribution, toward content based on real-time participation, creation, collaboration and exhibition. Here, consumers could watch the video on Facebook or via a special site, "Like" it to hear about the next installment, and, as mentioned, audition to play Alex. The nice interspersing webcam snippets enable many to play the role from the comfort of home. One could argue that this is less product integration than mere product placement (I'm not sure I'd notice the product brand if I didn't know who was behind this). But it is a compelling way to make the product the central mechanism a provocative and entertaining narrative.
First there was that tweet during the Super Bowl - "You can still dunk in the dark." Then, during last night's Grammys, Oreo scores again with a visual tweet about Justin Timberlake's "return" to pop music. (I hadn't realized he'd left; then again, during the time he was bringing "sexy back," I hadn't realized that had gone anywhere, either). As PR Newser put it, it's unclear if this visual was crafted on the fly - Timberlake was wearing a bow tie - but either way, Oreo delivered the goods, again.
There has long been a belief that popular culture breaks down barriers - the idea that engagement always trumps disengagement. That was true when it came to the Soviet Union. That's true when it comes to China. And to the extent than popular culture includes consumer products (it includes music, movies and fashion, so why not CPG?), Coca-Cola has always been at the forefront of cashing in on any peace dividend it could help create. Just look at the "I'd Like to Buy The World A Coke" spot from the 60s. And look at the YouTube video above. This fantastic outdoor-cum-live-social-media effort from Coca-Cola provides a live communications portal between people in two nations who have long had antagonisms - India and Pakistan – and gets them to complete some engaging task, like touching hands, or drawing symbols for happiness, peace and love together. I dare you not to get choked up.
The Ad Bowl got gamified this year, as Coca-Cola's Coke Chase enabled viewers to help three "teams" vie for a giant bottle of coke. Television spots from Wieden & Kennedy, end with a cliffhanger - and that's where this social media game begins. Now, viewers can share the video and vote on one of a handful of endings, in hopes of supporting one of three factions - cowboys, showgirls and badlanders - as they race for that Coke. The more you share, the more content you unlock - including 50,000 coupons for a free 20-ounce Coke. You could even sabotage the other teams by voting for distractions that slow them down. A spot with the winning team was shown at the conclusion of the Super Bowl.
This one made our list of Top 10 Best in Augmented Reality, too. Lucky Charms' "Chase the Charms" mobile app let you scan specially marked boxes in search of 8 lucky charms that lead to a very real pot of gold. If you played it (and I did), it would have looked hilarious as you wrangled your phone up, down, everwhere to catch the charms. Sidenote: This was squarely aimed at adults who grew up on the cereal. Not many kids are walking around with a smartphone capable of playing the game. Not that there's anything wrong with that!
Call it the ultimate stare down. It's no TNT Street Promo, or even a Tic Tac Bad Breath. And I have no idea why I would care that the S4 has eye tracking capabilities (I'm not even sure I would want my phone to have such things). But this promo, from a creative studio called Perfect Fools and an agency called Heimat Inc, is worth a stare - with a few laughs along the way.
The Ultimate Driving Machine recently used projection mapping to launch a social racing game designed to promote the new 1 series automobile in South Africa. Players drive via a Galaxy tablet, and thier scores are posted on a real-time Facebook leader board and shared with friends. The best drivers in each location the game was hosted won prizes. And who could have resisted playing?
BMW wasn't the only auto brand busting out the branded games this year.You have to love this interactive display, which enables passersby to race one of three finely detailed miniature Audis using a iPad, to demonstrate just how well Audi hugs the road (positioning undercut, unfortunately, by its share of wipeouts) - and memorialized by Facebook shares of personal video. As Adverblog points out, the fun is in the details: Pay special attention to the miniature roadside billboard that reads "BMWho?"
Sure, the promotional video is going to make your skin crawl. But this branded game from Stride and W+K does seems like a fun way to have your game and chew it, too. That's because the game uses your iPhone camera to detect your mouth movements to control the onscreen hero, Ace (bonus points for including the ability to share images of your crazy jaw action on social media.) Of course, one hopes the flavor lasts long enough to win during gameplay. Otherwise, the whole adventure may leave a, er, bad taste in your mouth.
By now, you should be noticing the social thread through a lot of the branded game winners this year. Many will make our list of Best Social Media Campaigns, too. Here, Heineken recently placed a billboard in airports to daring people to press the button to drop everything and go on free trip to whatever random location appears. And not all of the locations were desirable to everyone. Shortly thereafter, a follow-up game approached people who had tweeted that they'd be up to the challenge, and dared them to do it. The tone: A lot of fun - with a little edge - that suited the brand just right.
Perrier definitely knows how to wet your appetite to find out more. The brand - which describes itself as the sexiest sparkling water you'll ever taste – has launched what appears to be a sensational first-person branded game called Perrier Secret Place. In this choose-your-path narrative game, from Ogilvy Paris, you're transported to an underground nightclub, where you search for a secret bottle of Perrier for the chance to be entered into a drawing for a very real destination vacation such as Rio during Carnival, a party in St. Tropez, New Year's eve in Sydney and so on. if the video above is any indication, it's going to be a steamy ride. It's also in keeping with previous campaigns like Perrier Melting City that used innovative technologies to drive home brand positioning. Nice work all around.
Another game to also make our Top 10 Best in Augmented Reality. A very cool augmented reality game that pits pizza fans against (what else) zombies in a battle on the box top to protect their favorite pizzeria. This is very similar to a prototype game called "ARhrrrr!" developed at Georgia Tech that I discuss in my book, THE ON-DEMAND BRAND. Sure, you have to download an app to play - but given the brand's likely affinity with teen & twentysomething fanboys, it looks to be a righteously cool experience straight from Hell.
Chipotle scored big with an animated film and mobile game as part of its overall "Food with Integrity" campaign (watch companion YouTube video, above, and you get the sense this is more than a game - it's a movement). Here's the thing: As a branding initiative, it has generated boffo results. In its first two weeks, the YouTube video saw 6.5 million views (it's now over 11 million). And within four days of the mobile game's release on the App Store, it was downloaded 250,000 times, making it the top 15 free iOS apps in the U.S. Plus, the beautifully drives home the brand's value proposition. Exactly what a branded game should be.
Infiniti seriously upped its game this year with a responsive video series that uses advanced voice recognition to enable you to influence the action and interact with characters through phone calls. According to the New York Times, the video series - called "Deja View" – comes from Campfire, which readers know to be quite innovative in the way it uses video. This new effort is an extension of a campaign for the Infiniti Q50 developed by TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles. Characters appear to have amnesia, and at various points in the narrative, will call you on the phone (once you've provided it to participate). Your responses to their remarks influence their actions, dynamically shaping the storyline as it goes along - with thousands of different possible outcomes. Even the way you respond to characters' calls can influence the adventure. According to the Times, if you tell a character she is hot, for instance, she might respond to you in a distracting manner. Insult her, and she may just hang up. While technically this may fall more under "branded entertainment" than a strictly "branded game," there are enough game elements here - and sheer coolness - to make our list.
So: What's your view? What games make your 2013 top 10 list? We'd love to hear your thoughts!
Microsoft is pitching a whole different kind of windows. In a series of new YouTube videos, the software giant is showing retailers how its Kinect gaming technology could be used to create highly interactive window displays. It’s actually quite cool.
Okay, you might find yourself wanting to punch some of the people in this video - but you have to love the idea. The new 2014 IKEA catalog lets you place furniture in your home through the power of augmented reality.
A famed breakfast brand uses AR to live up to its magical moniker. Lucky Charms' augmented reality campaign centered on a new "Chase the Charms" mobile app that lets you scan specially marked boxes in search of 8 lucky charms that lead to a very real pot of gold. I don't know how many grade schoolers had a smart phone to do this. But munchie-crazed teens, twentysomethings and indeterminate 30s-40s digital marketer-bloggers found this is worth its weight in well, you get the picture.
Wow this video is tough to watch - but the innovation behind it is fun. In March, Domino's Japan launched an iPhone app featuring Hatsune Miku, a hugely popular, yet completely make-believe, virtual music star. Via the app, users can place their pizza orders directly from Miku, check order status in real time, review Miku-inspired uniform designs created by the Domino's staff, shoot their own photo opps with Miku, and much more. But the best feature comes once your pizza is delivered: Point your phone at the box and enjoy a special augmented reality performance from Miku, right on the box itself.
It might be the ultimate ice cream topping: This augmented reality concerto lasts just long enough for the ice cream to soften up just right. A very nice branding moment for connecting with certain customer segments.
It may just be the most eco-friendly toilet papering you ever committed. In a very fun promo, Cheetos teams up with Google Street View to enable you to (digitally) toilet paper anyone's house or place of business. Just enter the address and drop the payload - without killing a single tree. Perfect for Cheetos' playfully mischievous brand. And a cathartic experience - complete with the sound of "Ride of the Valkyries" from Wagner – for users. Hard not to love this one.
Our favorite AR of the year is also the newest: A New Zealand-based pizza chain called Hell Pizza has developed a very cool augmented reality game that pits pizza fans against (what else) zombies in a battle on the box top to protect their favorite pizzeria. Sorry, Domino's, zombies trump Hatsune Miku when you're hungry. (See video above.)
So: How does our list of Top 10 Augmented Reality initiatives square with yours this year? Share your faves here.