Longtime readers know that my annual list of favorites in mobile marketing rarely, if ever, have anything to do with "mobile advertising."
Why? For one thing, I believe that transferring ad models from one medium to another is beyond boring. For the other, just because an ad on say, Facebook, happens to be consumed on a mobile device doesn't make it mobile.
But this year, there were signs of life, innovations unique to the mobile medium or stemming directly from it. In fact, some efforts had nothing to do with a device called a phone—smart, mobile or otherwise. As it happens, the travel category figured prominently in our best-ofs.
Here's a purely subjective look at 10 that stood out to us in 2017.
This augmented reality app from Faber Castell enabled kids to point their mobile phones at the brand's eco-friendly color pencils to watch them tome to life. They could then snap photos of up to 12 different animals, matching pictures with information about the animals and their habitat.
Among the results: 600,000 downloads in just 90 says, 76 million impressions, 4.5 million engagements on Facebook and Instagram, and more. A powerful way to educate and entertain through the power of augmented reality.
Delta put up scenes of nine exotic destinations on a wall in Brooklyn so singles in New York City could take selfies for their online dating profiles—as if they were jets-setting, globe-trotting bon vivants. All the better to inspire suitors to swipe right for romance.
It's like Pokémon Go - with beer. Dutch beer brand Amstel has teamed up with mobile AR treasure hunt app Snatch to give away 10,000 free pints to people who "snatch" and hold onto their prizes for up to six hours. Oh, and in addition to the free beer, there are 20 bikes at stake—and three trips to Amsterdam. They had us at "AR" and "beer," but those will work, too.
In another travel-related mobile marketing initiative, Russian airline S7 bemoans the fact that consumers nowadays live vicariously through other peoples' Instagram images, "like places you've never been to, follow people, you'll never meet" - and encourages people to travel IRL. The airline even provides an incentive: A special web app where consumers can upload images of destinations they'd like to visit. The app generates a visual of a ticket to that destination, and offers a discount toward a purchase of real tickets there when consumers share it online.
We're McLovin' this new promotion from Mickey D's, which turns their recyclable drink trays into boom boxes for your iPhone. It's not the first time this has been done, of course—Coca-Cola once famously turned a magazine print ad into a speaker system for mobile phones as well. But that doesn't make McDonald's promo any less fun (our loud).
KLM Airlines is thinking beyond the flight to help visitors to Amsterdam make their way around town. Its new audio-enabled, location-aware "Care Tag" offers audio tips on things to see and do, based on where you are at any time. What's interesting is it consists of a speaker and an offline GPS module, so there's no telephony or Internet connection required. The voices even come from KLM crew members." Indeed, it's a perfect example of a travel brand using digital, data-based technology to extend the brand experience in a unique and compelling way.
An excellent personalized video campaign from Drug Free Kids Canada. Parents can send personalized videos warning against driving while high to their kids. Just as the onscreen character is receiving text messages from their parents wondering where they are, kids receive similar texts from their parents. It's a great conversation starter, and it joins a long list of brands using it for highly personalized video messages (see The On-Demand Brand for more). But here, it's put into service for a very good cause. Kudos to all involved.
Check out this inventive packaging from Coca-Cola, which came complete with removable wristbands that offer potential entry to music festivals. According to Marketing Dive, 75% of the teens in the target market were exposed to this campaign, which helped produce an 11% spike in sales. Even when they didn't win, consumers collected the bands as fashion statements. Talk about having a Coke and a smile.
This Cannes Lions Mobile Grand Prix winning initiative enabled men to test sperm quality with their mobile phones. According to Advertising Age, when men put a drop of semen on a special lens applied to the phone, the app shoots video of the sperm and analyzes it for count, concentration and mobility. This was marketing that also helped improve people's lives—and a job well done.
You gotta love this campaign, which was awarded the Gold Lion at Cannes this year. As you enter the app, it superimposes elements from the make-believe band's albums onto your real-world surroundings, acting as gateways to an immersive Gorillaz House in celebration of the group's return after a seven-year hiatus. The festivities included more than 500 geo-located "House Parties" that saw 125,000 fans in 146 countries search for AR Gorillaz houses in their markets to stream Gorillaz' new album, Humanz. Let's just say it was a bit of a success. Major kudos to all involved.
Plus: These mobile winners are just for starters. Be sure to check out other mobile entrants in numerous categories throughout this year's GEN WOW awards for more.
This is the Facebook Live campaign your Facebook Live campaign would be—if it was Old Spice. In honor of Valentine's Day, Old Spice enabled Facebook users to control a real man and interact with a real woman on what passes for an almost life-like date in the social media age. Hilarious and sad at the same time.
KFC's Year of Major Madcap Marketing Stunts is coming to a close—and what a year it was. From a creepy animatronic drive-thru robot to a Mother's Day romance novella that helped boost sales 40%, the Colonel has been flying his freak flag with pride - helping the brand extend 13 quarters of same-store sales growth since Q3 2014. But it may be a recent social media stunt that prompted Marketing Dive to name KFC its Marketer of the Year for 2017. In October, an astute Twitter user discovered that KFC's Twitter feed only follows 11 people—six people named "Herb" and the five members of the pop band Spice Girls. Makes you groan and smile at the same time. Kudos to KFC.
KFC's not the only QSR finding social media success this year. Wendy's scored big when a 17-year-old kid named Carter Wilkerson tweeted "Yo, @Wendy's how many retweets for a year of free chicken nuggets?" The fast fooder's response: 18 million—or roughly 6X greater than the existing record: Ellen DeGeneres's Oscar Selfie. The kid made it happen—and did something remarkable along the way. He helped raise money and awareness for both foster care adoption and breast cancer research. For that, this Gen Wow award's as much for Carter than it is for Wendy's—and he deserves it.
What's a year in social media without yet another fast food brand making our rankings. A perennial favorite, McDonald's earns a spot with its "Snaplications" campaign, an effort to recruit teens while turning them into free publicity machines on Snapchat. How? Through filters of course. According to the Verge, here's how it worked: Prospective employees could apply a McDonald's hat and name tag filter to their faces and record a 10-second video to pitch why they would make a great employee. Participants were then sent a link to the company's digital careers hub where they could download application form. It's unclear why anyone would go through the extra rigmarole, but it surely couldn't hurt their chances.
Who knew Denny's could poke fun at our unhealthy obsession over each new social media sensation? In March, the restaurant chain posted one of those "zoom in" posts where you typically find some kind of banal promotional message. Only here, you got something else entirely—a scavenger hunt of sorts with a reveal that read: "Has this distracted you from overwhelming existential dread lol." As Adweek put it at the time: "Ouch, Denny's. Way to remind us that we're all just frittering away what few scan moments we have before our inevitable demise." It also generated nearly 3X more retweets than Oreo's famous "Dunk in the Dark" tweet. Definitely food for thought.
As part of its #SeekDeeper campaign, Royal Caribbean outfitted three well-known divers with "SeaSeekers," custom scuba masks with built-in Snachat Spectacles. Beyond capturing footage on the migration of whale sharks, coral reef restoration and the Great Blue Hole in Belize, Adweek reports the cruise line hopes to equip its shops with these masks so guests can rent them out and instantly share their underwater adventures via Snapchat.
You're going to feel this one. "Tattoo" is a Mother's Day video that follows a young woman as she gets her first tattoo and reveals its special meaning to her. This campaign is part of American Greeting's #GiveMeaning campaign designed to help people honor those who've mattered most to them. Read more here.
Heinz's "Irresistible Posts" Instagram series used geolocation to target local users looking for stories around lunch time. If they swiped a Heinz post featuring mouthwatering creations form a celebrity chef, it triggered the ability to order the contents of the post, which Heinz delivered in a personalized box. Insta-success. And tasty, too.
The popular beer brand pulled off what Pepsi didn't seem able or well suited to do this year—mostly by not trivializing issues and by bringing people who are worlds apart a little closer. Oh, and by reinforcing the role Heineken actually plays in the world—as an ice breaker. Pretty powerful stuff, actually—meant to open up honest and open-minded online conversations instead of perpetuating partisan echo champers. We'll drink to that.
Sometimes it pays to listen. At least, that was the case with this Facebook campaign promoting a Guns & Roses concert. Knowing full well that 90 percent of Facebook users watch videos with audio turned off, AMEX snuck in a surprise. Those who activated audio got a surprise—a voice over that told them the first 50 to text in the name of the band's lead singer would win a free ticket to the concert. How might your brand incentivize people to view your video advertising?
With that, congrats to all of this year's winners. And look for social elements in other categories in coming days, as the 2017 GEN WOW AWARDS continue.
Throw together Honda, augmented reality, Facebook's new "Did You Know" feature, Frappuccino Christmas trees and Tarantino's upcoming R-rated "Star Trek" movie and you just know it has to be another episode of...
HONDA'S ULTIMATE AR HOLIDAY CARD, TARANTINO'S R-RATED 'STAR TREK' & MORE
Augmented reality-based marketing initiatives seem to have lost some altitude in 2017 compared to recent years—and that's probably a good thing.
Once a "me-too" phenomenon, a growing number of brands' AR initiatives have a solid reason for being or are exceptionally well-suited to the target audience.
Indeed, though it's often mistakenly called "virtual reality" (sorry folks, AR and VR are still two different things), the former is expected to eventually eclipse the latter because of an endless number of possible applications.
With AR viewers now available in the checkout line at even the smallest gas-'n-sip, perhaps they'll hit the 3.7 million units projected to be shipped in the next year.
Whatever the case, when brands do AR right, it can be a blast. Here's a look at some of our picks for the year's best (at least so far):
Okay, we're cheating here—there's nothing AR about the experience. Instead, it's a movie featuring a dystopian vision for our AR-infused future. Here, it's all from the POV of "Glassholes." We have not yet seen the movie, but the trailer was too fun to leave off our list.
Longtime readers know John Lewis often makes our annual "Best of Lists." And they almost always involve the British retailer's integrated holiday campaigns, which are always crowd pleasers. This time out, spots featuring Moz the Monster (#MozTheMonster") and are amplified by a soft Moz took, branded mugs, PJs, storybook downloads and a Facebook AR selfie filter (alas, described by at least one pub as a VR filter, which it is not).
It's hard to tell how much of this is just video or actual gameplay, but this promo from THE VOID and Sony Pictures looks like a lot of fun. A couple of key points: THE VOID develops experiences for certain venues. This was not a game you could download and play on your own. It also underscores the difference between AR and VR. Both WIRED and The New York Times referred to this game as being VR. From the promotional video at least, it appears to be AR-based, which helps explain how people move through it without the disorientation that often comes with VR-based experiences. For those new to this, AR layers digital elements on top of the real world, while VR immerses the user in a 100% digital world or experience.
To help promote the launch of M&M's new caramel flavor, the ever-popular Mars candy transformed a dozen billboards into an AR arcade that people could access via mobile phone. According to ADWEEK, it resulted in more than 466 million consumer impressions.
Pokémon Go's got nothing on England's Forestry Commission. Its "Grufallo Spotter" AR app got kids to get excited about the great outdoors by getting them engaged with fun characters and activities based on the best-selling picture book. Check out a behind-the-scenes look, here and read more, here.
Readers may know that we're big fans of "Stranger Things" (Be sure to check out the latest "Rick & Rick" Podcast's season two recaps here). We're also fans of Snapchat (and more recently, Facebook) AR filters as promotional devices. So we were doubly pleased with Netflix's AR and VR-based filters for Snapchat. On the AR side, the filter applies Eleven's signature nosebleed to your face. Just don't raise your eyebrows—or you're thrown into the Upside Down. In the VR side, you're planted in Joyce Byer's season one living room, complete with creepy message lights.
It's like Pokémon GO—with beer. Earlier this year, Dutch beer brand Amstel teamed up with the mobile AR treasure hunt app known as Snatch to give away 10,000 free pints to people who "snatch" and hold onto their prizes for up to six hours. In addition to the free bear, there were also 20 bikes at stake, as well as three free trips to Amsterdam. But honestly, they had us at "AR" and "beer." But those other prizes work, too.
First there were the NFC-enabled album covers you could tap with your mobile phone to bring up a website featuring one of her singles. This year, Beatie Wolfe launched an augmented reality-based live streaming experience to promote her latest album, Raw Space.
You gotta love this campaign, which was awarded the Gold Lion at Cannes this year. As you enter the app, it superimposes elements from the make-believe band's albums onto your real-world surroundings, acting as gateways to an immersive Gorillaz House in celebration of the group's return after a seven-year hiatus. The festivities included more than 500 geo-located "House Parties" that saw 125,000 fans in 146 countries search for AR Gorillaz houses in their markets to stream Gorillaz' new album, Humanz. Let's just say it was a bit of a success. Kudos to all involved.
Hats off to Honda and agency RPA for this personalized AR experience for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation at the Children's Hospital of Orange County. The idea: bring an augmented reality surprise to sick kids in hospitals over the holidays. Be proud, people—a touching and truly meaningful application of this technology.
The Ricks revisit "Stranger Things" Season Two episodes 3 through 5—and discuss a Duffer Brothers comment about the possibility that Hopper is a character from the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi actioner "Predator."
'Stranger Things 2'—Eps 3-5; and is Hopper a character from 'Predator'?
A recent article in The Atlantic postulates that the history of Sears Roebuck & Company predicts nearly everything Amazon is doing.
It's a fascinating and apt notion when you look at the evolution of first Sears and now everyone's favorite online retailer.
Rick Mathieson and Rick Wootten discuss the similarities and how a retailer once deemed too big to fail got disrupted by another—and wonder about what's ultimately in store (pardon the pun) for Amazon.
Why create a blockbuster new show and then hide it away where nobody will ever watch it?
Rick Mathieson and Rick Wootten assess the first episode of "Star Trek: Discovery," the first new show developed for CBS All Access, a kind of Netflix dedicated exclusively to CBS properties.
It must have seemed like a great idea at the time—create a show with a built in, hardcore fan base to draw new viewers to this new app. But is it enough to pull in the Ricktators, both lifelong Trek fans?
The first episode is solid, the 15-episode first season surely enjoyable, and a second season has already been greenlit.
Yet the Ricks have yet to watch another episode.
See what they have to say about the show and the legacy of Trek. Then let us know your own thoughts about "Star Trek: Discovery" and CBS All access.