Every marketer knows that digital channels need to be a critical part of the marketing mix. Something that is less commonly understood however, is how to weave digital technologies and traditional channels into integrated experiences that make the brand more tangible for the user. This is the growing area between the traditionally segmented ATL, BTL and digital spaces.
Thanks to electronic billboards that can be linked to the web, shopping vouchers that can be delivered by cellphones, and a host of other technologies, nearly every customer experience potentially has a way of being digitally amplified.
This means that marketers need to think about how they will use a mix of digital and traditional channels in a more integrated way, as opposed to traditional silos. In South Africa, it is mostly the large consumer brands such as car and sportswear manufacturers, banks, and consumer technology companies that are leading the way.
One such example is PUMA, a Gloo
client. Recognising the difficulty of cutting through the clutter in the trainer market, PUMA asked us to think about how we could use digital technology to enrich its much-loved PUMA Social Nights in Braamfontein
. The solution? An engaging, digitally enabled game that used consumers' phones while they were at these events.
In this digital version of ping pong, phones substituted paddles and the 'court' became table surfaces that we projected the game's interface onto. To play, consumers simply signed up using their Twitter accounts and downloaded the app. With a simple click they joined in, seamlessly connecting their phones to concealed computer hardware that we placed in the club, and turning them into ping pong paddles that could hit a virtual 3D ball back and forth across the table surface. While the rest of PUMA Social Club followed the action on the leaderboard, every victory at the table became a tweet and an opportunity to meet a new challenger and gain a new Twitter follower.
The social integration, visual spectacle, and branding all combined to create enormous buzz and memorable experiences at the events, while extending the reach of the execution into social channels. Not only did PUMA grow its customer database and drive people to retail stores by giving them mobile vouchers, it also made its brand increasingly tangible to its most loyal supporters.
Another more recent example is PUMA's approach to printed advertising. Its range of technical shoes often requires a deep explanation of the features to justify and fully convey the quality of the products. With this in mind, we used augmented reality technology, which runs on the smartphones of PUMA's tech-savvy audiences, to integrate print with mobile and unlock a larger and more engaging story about the brand's products.
Smartphones are pointed at the print advertising to reveal a full 3-dimensional demonstration of the shoes. This includes all product information as well as simulated movement of the shoes when worn. The experience has both an education layer and a sales layer, as it uses geotargeting to point the user to the stockist nearest to where they are when looking at the ad.
Another good example from our portfolio is BMW, who experienced fantastic traction when it marketed its BMW 6 Series Convertible through an interactive billboard at O.R. Tambo International Airport. Our creative execution linked to people's interest in the changing national weather as they travelled through airports to their intended destinations.
Using real-time weather data, together with our bespoke technology (and plenty of persuading of the airports authority), we invented the BMW digital billboard - four screens that simultaneously displayed the weather in four major cities across South Africa. As the weather changed, so the iconography would animate to the relevant weather depiction, and the vehicle's convertible roof would open or close according to the weather conditions.
This execution elegantly showcased the car with its roof on and off, and reached an estimated audience of over 900,000 passengers who queued next to these billboards. The fact that the airport is now offering this as an ongoing interactive advertising space is further testament to the success and feedback of this campaign.
As we see an increasing number of these types of consumer engagements popping up across the country, these examples also signal an increase in communication that offers useful and relevant utility to customers beyond a marketing message, creating more impact and traction for brands with their audiences.
Achieving these 'between the line' solutions requires a deep level of integration between traditional and digital thinking and demands the skills and talent that span both sides of the divide, as well as creatives who can work in multiple media and channels.