One of the many lessons I have learned during a career working in digital, is that when something becomes a trend, it’s already too late to reap any meaningful advantage.
To succeed in this most dynamic of industries you have to stay ahead of the curve, develop superior insight and position your brand to take advantage of a trend before the market becomes saturated and a competitive advantage becomes the norm.
I like to call it “Innovating at the Speed of Thought”. There’s no time for in-depth strategic analysis, you have to predict-act-learn.. turning what used to be a conscious process into something far more instinctive.
A great example is the latest MINI Getaway campaign, which has moved on from its initial game-board in Stockholm and is now set to take Tokyo by storm. Whilst rival brands have been running unilateral online competitions, MINI has taken its core brand attributes and turned them into a game.
A real game, played out on the real world, using digital tools to augment the game mechanics, enhancing the campaign’s disruptive impact and enabling the social distribution of artefacts which attract more players to the game.
Covering a playing area of 240 square miles, MINI Getaway in Tokyo, begins tomorrow (3rd December) and runs for 9 days, during which time contestants must capture a virtual MINI and then run as fast as they can out of its orbit to prevent other potential takers from swiping it. Players within 50 metres of the keeper can snatch the virtual MINI away and so move from being hunter to prey. The rules are simple – whichever player holds the MINI at the end of the competition, wins a real MINI Coupe.
Last time out – MINI Getaway Stockholm 2010 attracted 11,000 players, who spent an average gaming time (i.e. engaged with the brand) of 5 hours 6 minutes, although perhaps more impressive is the fact that MINI sales increased by 108% in the first quarter following the campaign.
MINI aren’t alone in trying to integrate the offline world into their digital campaigns. Citroën DS4 Seekers was basically a huge game of ‘Hide-and-Seek’ played out on the streets of Britain.
Each day players were given a virtual DS4 to hide on the real streets around them, and for every DS4 found (or hidden), they earned an entry into the prize draw to win a brand new Citroën DS4.
Other campaigns of note include the ongoing, Mercedes-Benz Escape The Map, which invites players into a virtual game, solving clues to help fictional character Marie escape from Google Streetview. Trapped in a Mercedes C63 AMG Coupé, Marie must escape from Streetview before her face becomes blurred like other images.
Although the gaming is played online, the campaign is unique in using print, online, broadcast TV and billboard (on the side of buses) advertising to drive traffic to the online game. People who successful answer a series of interactive challenges can enter into a draw to win a Mercedes C 350 Coupé.
What these examples show us, is two things. Firstly, marketing campaigns do not have to ‘intrude’ on people’s lives or forcibly interrupt our activities – it can become ‘THE ACTIVITY’ that we seek out and engage with. The brand becomes the entertainer.
Secondly, social media is not Facebook, neither is it just online, but instead it’s a cultural phenomenon that requires marketers to think outside the box, connecting online with offline channels to deliver the most memorable and meaningful experiences to consumers.
Social is about innovation, challenging the routine and being heard amidst the flat-pack familiarity of digital marketing. These are just some of the brands who’ve integrated offline into their digital campaigns, but it’s already becoming a trend, so what will you do to get ahead of the curve?