The man in the mirror has a deadly serious message for you.
We love this PSA-based prank from We Save Lives, which campaigns against what it calls the 3 Ds: Drunk, Drugged and Distracted driving.
This particular initiative (see YouTube video above) involves a bar bathroom mirror in Los Angeles that serves up a video feed with a man convicted of manslaughter from drinking under the influences—live from jail in Florida.
As I point out in a recent conversation with Charlie Kraus of Limelight networks, there's just one problem: None of these are actually VR. They're 360-degree videos.
True VR is (or will be) far immersive because these videos, while incredibly cool, are missing one key element: interactivity.
I'm not talking visual navigation. I'm talking about the ability to pick up an object. Crouch low or jump high. The ability to move in relation to the virtual environment.
True VR is more like a first-person video game, whether the environment is photo/video-realistic or clearly fantastical, as with video games.
While this current wave of "VR" is an important step in that direction, it's critical that we don't lose sight of the "Holodeck"-like vision on which VR is based.
The evolution of VR will bring us 360-movies and eventually, truly interactive VR—or even better, AR or "mixed reality," that brings fictitious dramas to life within real world environments—for the ultimate movie-going experience.
Dawn of Awesomeness
As blockbuster movie fans (myself included) gear up for this week's 3D IMAX release of "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice," I found myself thinking about a conversation I had a while back with Steven Amato, co-founder of Omelet LA.
In this short clip (from a source interview for my book, THE ON-DEMAND BRAND), I ask Amato about the future of feature-length mixed reality experiences, and what it could also mean for brands using VR/AR to develop branded content in a world where you might not just sit inside that MINI in "Backwater"—but actually drive it. And where you don't just watch Batman & Superman clash with each other and their villains—you join them.
While the Amazon brain trust puzzles over how to deliver boxes of books via drone, this Taiwanese beer brand is already headed your way—with beer.
In this marketing stunt promoting Honey Beer (yes, beer brewed with honey), Bee drones were dispatched to bring sample six-packs to office workers. Advertising enticed 15,000 people to register online for delivery in its first 10 days.
Meanwhile, sales were up 400% relative to other fruit-infused beers the brand had recently launched.
IIf Augmented Reality holds so much more promise than Virtual Reality, are investments in developing VR-specific devices like Oculus Rift just a waste of time and money—especially when mobile phones can be used for both AR and VR?
In the conclusion of my recent conversation with content delivery network (CDN) provider Limelight Networks' Charlie Kraus, we'll get answers to that question—and learn why when it comes to both AR and VR, it's voice that's the killer app.
What do you want the world to be like when you retire? This Swedish pension firm created this interactive experience that enables you to toggle two versions of life 30 years from now to show how sustainability pays off—for the planet and your financial picture.
These intelligent digital billboards pull in data gathered from social media, traffic updates and weather information to provide tips on getting the best photos to New York City tourists and amateur photographers.
Digital signs developed with DreamWorks Animation enables shoppers at Piccadilly Circus to use their mobile phones to personalize and visualize custom scarves, and display them on a giant screen for all to see before placing a purchase.
Online media planning and optimization solutions provider Marketing Evolution developed this robot that was able to identify attendees at this year’s Association of National Advertisers conference on sight – and engage in conversation about their media plans based on their past spend.
Cult '80s film 'Never-ending Story' inspires this site, which is “powered' by dream data” from five sleeping volunteers in a very abstract effort to highlight this non-profit organization’s efforts to improve the lives of children.
Five different living billboards featured encasements with live bacteria on affixed strips to keep them in place. Over time, the bacteria fed off the environment inside the encasements, and started go grow, forming one of five unique statements to educate consumers about how to avoid becoming ill due to household bacteria. So creepy, it’s (literally) infectious.
You either love the voice that comes out of your GPS navigation device, or hate it. Either way, this app automatically switches to a child’s voice when providing turn-by-turn instructions through areas where there are likely to be kids around, in an effort to cue drivers to drive more cautiously.
It’s (almost) enough to make you love retargeting: This year, online display ads for 3M's Post-It brand sticky notes have proven just that—sticky—by enabling consumers to write themselves notes, reminders and to-do lists right inside the ad units. Through the magic of retargeting—technologies that deliver that same ad to you wherever you go around the Internets, usually to your chagrin—your virtual Post-Its re-appear everywhere you go.
This summer, Netflix came up with an innovative way to promote its 'Sense8' online series, which about eight random people who find themselves connected telepathically. It’s approach? Using brainwaves from eight viewers to create a musical symphony.
Out to demonstrate how quick and transparent its auto price evaluations are, Taiwan-based used car dealer Kagulu rolled out a truck outfitted with cameras and databases to scans cars on the streets and display its value instantly.
Call it "23AndThee": This past Earth Day, Hong Kong-based NGO Cleanup launched a billboard and bus signage campaign in an effort to get people to clean up after themselves in city known for more than its share of litter. DNA evidence on discarded chewing gum, cigarette butts and even a condom was used to by forensic scientists to predict the eye, hair and skin color, as well as the face shape, of litters – and a total of 27 different profiles were established, and then displayed for all to see. Nothing like shame—and the fear of it—to shape behavior!
Mobile is where it’s at again this year, though we quibble with its definition these days.
For instance, Facebook says nearly 80% of its ad revenue come from mobile advertising. But in our humble opinion, just because an ad is experienced on a mobile device doesn’t mean it’s “mobile.”
Small wonder then, that as in year’s past, most of our top pics for 2015 bring something more to “mobile” – by in fact, relating to place, or the specific capabilities or key functionality of the device in which they are consumed.
Here's 10 of our favorites from the year that was.
This wildly popular (and widely spoofed) holiday campaign from UK retailer John Lewis includes a mobile app featuring augmented reality that lets you point your phone toward the moon to unlock daily facts about each phase of the moon. There’s also a game in which the player has to avoid obstacles and collect power boosts to get a specific item up to the man on the moon.
Despite the fact that we're never ones to require any additional prompting to drink Coke Zero – we live on the stuff – this year’s “drinkable advertising” caught our notice. The campaign’s TV spots featured Coke Zero being poured from an onscreen bottle – before migrating to viewers’ mobile phone screens before transmogrifying into a coupon.
What’s not to love about the World Wild Life Fund’s “Last Selfie” promotion with Snapchat, which takes advantage of the fleeting, transient nature of Snapchat snaps with short ads that show just how quickly an endangered species can be wiped off the planet. Powerful, and perfect for the platform. In just its first week, consumers posted 40,000 tweets about the initiatives to 120 million timelines. And in just three days, WWF reached its fundraising target for the entire month.
This year, Guess's special mobile ad units enabled users to snap selfies and then “try on” sunglasses via augmented reality, complete with pointers on which styles work best for your face shape. The user takes or uploads a selfie, adjusts the placement, applies from a wide selection of sunglasses and can even share the image for feedback from far-flung friends via their social platforms. Add a "buy" button and this could be m-commerce magic instead of just promotion.
How do you get shoppers into store locations during the Easter season? Launch an augmented reality Egg Hunt for the chance to win store gift cards. Here’s a brick & mortar retailer (in Australia) that refused to shy away from mobile and instead embraced it to enhance the retail experience.
This summer, the online music streaming service rolled out a "Found Them First" microsite that lets users see which musicians the system knows they heard before the artists became megawatt sensations. Users can then build and share a playlist built on those early discoveries. In exchange, Spotify will offer them a new playlist with other new acts they might help “discover” as well.
MINI USA is big on short online films featuring its cars, so it made since that the brand would be among the first to take 360-degree video for a test drive. Two such films, “Backwater” and “Real Memories” are definitely worth a gander—and could mean big things for the road ahead.
Let’s face it: You’re not quite you when you’re hungry, are you? Which is why the latest installment of Snickers’ long-running "You're Not You" campaign includes a mobile app that enables consumers to create images related to their particular hunger symptoms and share them socially. The key isn’t to show off what kind of hungry you are, of course. It’s about calling out family and friends for acting “snippy,” “loopy,” “cranky,” “confused,” “spacey," or ... insert your own adjective here.
Yes, I’m still fixated on this VR initiative from Qantas, which enables you to go on a eight-minute, 360-degree virtual vacation to Hamilton Island. In fact, it was really hard to decide between this and our #1 pick this year. It is, after all, either instant justification for the VRevolution, or a sure sign of the Apocalypse. Once companies start producing VR content like this that lasts not minutes but for hours on end, the human race may just opt out of the “reality” part of the equation all together—at least when they aren’t physically going to these amazing locales.
Okay, there's rarely a moment when a large TV screen is much out of arms reach these days. So maybe this is the solution to a problem that few will ever face. But it's still hard not to dig the Pizza Hut Blockbuster Box - a pizza box that's also a movie projector. Throw in a cold one and this could be the best thing to happen to pizza since pepperoni.
Even Marty McFly knew augmented reality would be big this year.
As 1989’s "Back to the Future II" showed us, 2015 would find Live AR movie promotions for "Jaws 19" and teens and adults using AR-enabled goggles along the lines of Google Glass (if Google Glass looked like Google Cardboard).
Of course, with all the excitement around Oculus Rift and the aforementioned Cardboard, one could be forgiven for wondering if this is the year virtual reality (or VR, immersive experiences within virtual environments) overshadowed AR (which layers virtual elements over the physical world in front of you in what has been called "The Internet on Things).
It doesn’t help that there has indeed seemed to be a dearth of truly cool AR marketing initiatives this year, at least compared to 2014 and 2013.
But that doesn’t mean there weren’t some brands doing their best to capitalize on an emerging technology expected to eclipse VR with $120 billion of the total $150 billion AR/VR market by 2020, according to a recent report from Manatt Digital Media.
Among the more positive trends this year: A move beyond (just) promotional eye candy to showroom and retail sales tools and apps, as well as AR-enhanced commerce.
As AR ramps up for what will hopefully be a more promising year ahead, let's take a look at some of our favorites in AR-enabled marketing and advertising from 2015—at least so far—below.
What made your list? And what AR campaigns would you add to ours? Do share!
2015 TOP 10 BEST: AUGMENTED REALITY
10. AZEK: AR HOME IMPROVEMENT IPAD APP
What Ikea long ago started doing for interiors, exterior building products maker AZEK is doing for dealers and contractors trying to help clients make decisions for their home improvement projects. The AR Home Improvement App offers the ability to show prospects and customers how new pavers, patio finishes, porches, railings, and light fixtures will look when in situ (albeit on a representative home, not their own), save the visual, and even share it via social media. Built by Marxent Labs, the app is in use by 75% of all AZEK resellers, with 1,000 new downloads per month. Now that’s something to write home about.
9. MANOR PLUS: AR CATALOG
Also making a nod to Ikea's catalog playbook: Zurich’s Manor Plus Summer 2015 catalog, which featured AR elements that helped its merchandising come to life.
8. TOYS 'R US: 'TRUE MAGIC IN-STORE AR
How do you get shoppers into store locations during the Easter season? Launch an AR Egg Hunt for the chance to win store gift cards. Here’s a brick & mortar retailer that refused to shy away from mobile and instead embraced it to enhance the retail experience.
7. MICROSOFT HALOLENS: 'TRANSFORM YOUR WORLD'
Okay, this is cheating, since HoloLens isn’t even out yet. But it perfectly captures the value proposition for augmented reality. And it happens to top ADWEEK’s branded video charts just now. When I wrote about the future of augmented reality in my second book, THE ON-DEMAND BRAND, this is definitely the kind of thing I envisioned. Be sure to check out this gaming demo as well.
6. MINI USA: 'AR VISION'
We’re cheating again here, too, as this is conceptual marketing from MINI. Called Augmented Vision, this wearable AR concept will hypothetically be tied to the MINI Connected Infotainment platform, to “enhance the driving experience by seamlessly interconnecting applications inside and outside the vehicle while providing the driver with greater vision and increased safety.” Unlike the HoloLens demo, which is for an actual product, this concept is, as far as we know, still very much in development at BMW’s lab in Mountain View, California.
5. LEXUS & FERRARI SHOWROOM AR
Lexus has done some very cool work with augmented reality in years past. And Ferrari is, well, Ferrari. But a trend to note here is that, like Azek in its own category, these celebrated upscale to uber-luxury brands are now moving beyond AR promotions to include useful support tools sales people can use to give clientele a closer look at upcoming cars and to showcase automobile innovation. On another end of the automobile spectrum, look also at Hyundai’s new Virtual Owner’s Guide, which is designed for customers as part of the actual brand experience.
4. JOHN LEWIS: 'MAN ON THE MOON' AR APP
This Christmas TV spot from UK retailer John Lewis is going to instantly get you in the spirit of the season. It’s already the early favorite of the Holiday ad season internationally, inspiring a perhaps inevitable ‘Star Wars’ parody. And it also has its own mobile app, which includes, among other things, an AR feature that lets you hold your phone to the moon to view interesting factoids, or at John Lewis in-store posters and shopping bags to unlock free downloads at the retailer’s site.
3. UNIVERSAL STUDIOS: 'FURIOUS 7' LIVE AR DISPLAY
In the vein of great mobile AR apps like the special effects app from JJ Abrams’ production company Bad Robot, this live AR display enables you to watch yourself get killed by a falling car in front of friends and perfect strangers at the mall. Morbid as it may seem, it’d be hard for the target audience for the latest installment of the mega hit ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise to ignore. Kind of makes you wonder what a similar AR promotion for ‘San Andreas’ might have been like.
2. MICROSOFT: 'SUNSET OVERDRIVE' BUS SHELTERS
The whole AR-enabled bus shelter has been done before, but it still can’t help but draw you in—especially when it involves mutant monsters coming your way on the street in front of you. Still, as cool as this promo for the new Xbox game ‘Sunset Overdrive’ looks, the Overcharge Delirium XT energy drink it features sounds like it may be even more tempting than the game itself.
1. SNICKERS: 'HUNGER BAR'
You’re not quite you when you’re hungry, are you? Which is why Snickers rolled out this new installment of its long-running "You're Not You" campaign, which includes a mobile app that enables consumers to create images related to their particular hunger symptoms and share them socially. The key isn’t to show off what kind of hungry you are, of course, but in calling out family and friends for acting “snippy,” “loopy,” “cranky,” “confused,” “spacey," or ... insert your own adjective here.
BONUS CAMPAIGN: SEAGATE 'HOLIDAY SMOOCH BOOTH'
In the same vein as the Snickers ‘Hunger Bar’ campaign, this Holiday 2015 promotion from storage solutions provider Seagate enables you to snap a selfie or upload an image from your photo library, and then proceed to augment your reality (or somebody else’s) with holiday visuals (Santa hat, reindeer antlers, etc.) and send personalized seasons greetings. I’m biased, since I had input on this web app from Havas SF. But having developed promotions like this for other brands, I know it's an approach that can make for powerful experiential marketing.
Let's just say I was into the "Internet of Things" before it was much of "a thing" at all.
Never mind that a survey this year finds 87% of consumers say they've never heard the term. In my 2005 book BRANDING UNBOUND, I wrote extensively about the Internet of Things (or, IoT), and such coming innovations as "smart clothes" that would one day routinely monitor heart patients and alert doctors of impending heart attacks.
And intelligent homes, buildings and stores that will react to, and even predict, your every command—setting temperatures and lighting to your liking, and offering up goods and services based on your personal preferences.
Then there was the personalized content streamed direct to your car. Designer clothes that tell the washing machine, "don't wash me, I'm dry clean only." Medicines that warn users of dangerous interactions. Cars that get "upgrades" remotely via mobile software. And frozen dinners that tell the microwave oven how to cook them to perfection.
Nest, Tesla, Pandora, Proteus Digital Health's "smart pill," the Apple Watch and the Polo Tech Shirt notwithstanding, this world of pervasively interconnected services and solutions remains in its earliest stages. And yet, as far as the brand experience goes for these companies and others, it is beginning to create meaningful differentiation that is shaping consumer expectations with each new day.
When Tesla recently faced a recall nearly 30,000 Model S cars because of overheating issues with their wall chargers, the company was able to fix the issue by simply update the software in each care remotely, eliminating the problem without owners needing to go to their dealerships. What have other car brands have to compete with that?
While not quite proactively ordering new supplies, Amazon's Dash devices, WalMart's Hiku roll out this week, and Red Tomato Pizza's refrigerator magnets mean all you have to do is push a button or swipe an empty container to have laundry detergent, groceries (or piping hot Pepperoni Pizza) heading your way, without ever having to take out your mobile phone, activate an app and enter an order.
Netflix even recently released DIY instructions for building a push button that dims your lights, orders food, silences the phone and fires up Netflix queue.
Factor in product innovations—such as the Nike+ Running System (which runners found so compelling that the brand's already enviable share of the running shoe category skyrocketed from 48% to 61% in its first 36 months); Prada's continuing refinement of retail technologies (which identify what garments you pick up and instantly showcase runway video and accessories on the nearest store display); or new Johnnie Walker bottles that let you create personalized gifting experiences, and interact with brand promotions, using your mobile phone—and it's easy to see that brands that leverage IoT technologies stand to benefit mightily while those that don't may fall evermore behind.
Yet even big winners will need to tread carefully.
LIFE AS A POP-UP AD?
Even back in 2005, I warned that interconnected everything means you can run, but never truly hide.
Or, as techno-anthropologist Howard Rheingold tells me in the book, "A world in which you are connected infinitely is a world in which you are surveilled infinitely."
Yes, online ads and street side billboards that call out to you on a first name basis, offering exactly what you're looking for—even before you realize you're looking for it—will have their place. Much of this will seem quite magical—at rightly so. But brands and media partners must be careful to resist the temptation to personalize pitches to the point of creeping consumers out.
Or putting them in danger.
One need not look beyond recent news reports on automobile software systems being hacked from afar to understand personal information is not the only thing put at potential risk in this interconnected world.
As I write in the book, as marketers (and as consumers), you and I will face decisions our predecessors could never imagine about what is acceptable—perhaps even moral—when anything and everything is possible.
As brands we exist to serve our customers and their needs, not the other way around.
Ultimately, that may mean recognizing that consumers should be able to control how "smart" they want their "smart products"—and advertising aimed at selling them those products—to be.
Perhaps they even need control over deciding which "Things" (and the associated data) that they want to be part of this "Internet of" —to better serve them, in the ways they want to be served—even if that sometimes means less, instead of more, of what we hope to sell to them. Even while making what we do sell them more profitable.
The brands that get this balance just right will not only attract consumers. They'll gain their loyalty and their trust.
Perhaps that's where the true power of the IoT is waiting to be found.
READ MORE FROM THE '2015 MOBILE MARKETING PREDICTIONS—FROM 2005' SERIES:
But as you'll hear in the interview, while big brands long ago started to realize that it can pay big to pull pranks on their customers, the time seems ripe for members of Jim's audience—SMBs—to consider it, too.
It's not without risks, of course. One could easily see the danger of more mischievous efforts backfiring, or kind gestures setting a precedent. But you'll see why it's something even the smallest brands should be assessing.
Along the way, Jim will share how he and his wife recently pulled a reverse prank on a local pizzeria. And we'll see that while in general the crueler, the better in these types of things, kindness always trumps all.