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How technology is closing the loop on brand experience

How technology is closing the loop on brand experience

By Dean Dempsey, managing director, Made

Technology is fast becoming the great enabler for modern brand experience, as it is allowing marketers to transcend media channels and bring the digital and physical worlds together in an incredibly engaging way that places the customer experience at the heart of any campaign. At the same time it is also breathing new life into old channels.

For example, augmented reality (AR) is really enabling brands to bring their products to life. An excellent example of this can be seen in the Nesquick cereal association with the movie Rio, which came out last year. Packs included a hand card that allowed consumers to interact with Blu, a character in the movie. All they needed was a webcam or smart phone and an internet connection.

Up until recently, marketers have been restricted to using QR codes to link products and on-pack promotions directly to the web and create immersive and immediate digital experiences for customers. The problem with QR codes is that they require a specific app to work and not many people have these. Now AR is opening up this market and allowing brands to bring digital experiences directly to the consumer from on-pack promotions in incredibly innovative ways.

Another great example of the power of AR was the Lynx Angels campaign run by Mindshare and Unilever. The brand placed a huge screen in London’s Victoria station with an area on the ground instructing people to look up. When they did, they would see themselves on a giant screen. A remote laptop user was then able to place an angel on the screen with them and they could interact with her. Word spread fast and eventually queues of people were lining up to take part in the experience. This was a powerful way to bring TV campaign into the real world.

Other technologies like RFID (radio-frequency identification) and NFC (near-field communication) also offer the brand experience marketer engaging ways to close the loop in terms of the different channels they are using. One of the most innovative uses of RFID was the Asics campaign during the 2010 New York Marathon. In the run up to the event the SupportYourMarathoner.com website was set up to enable friends and family to leave messages for the runner they were supporting. These messages could be video, images or text. During race week booths were set up in New York to enable more people to leave message of support for their chosen runner.

On the day, Asics had set up giant LED screens and sensor triggers along the course. At registration each runner was given a number and a unique RFID tag that they attached to their shoes. This meant that when runners crossed the sensors on the course, their personal messages were sent to the nearest screen giving them the boost they needed to keep on going. This was a fantastic bit of brand experience and underlined Asics key message that every runner should have what they need to be successful.

Another potentially fascinating use of RFID came from students at a digital media school who envisaged a new concept for fashion company WeSC that would see social interactions powered by an RFID tag embedded in their shoes.

The shoe owner had to activate their shoes online and then link them to their social media profiles. Once this was done, whenever the shoe came into contact with a special RFID reading mat the ID of the shoe would be scanned and sent to a server, which would then deliver a status message to their social networks. The system can also communicate back to the location of the mat to deliver a personalised message. Imagine walking into a store and it automatically triggering a welcome message while tweeting about your location. The shoes could also be used as an entry pass to an event or to become Facebook friends with another person wearing the shoes.

Meanwhile, the power of NFC to breathe life into old media is highlighted by a recent campaign around the release of the X-Men First Class movie. Although used in a select target area around central London to demonstrate the power of the technology, people with NFC-enabled phones were able to hold their mobiles against poster sites advertising the release of the movie and have a copy of the trailer downloaded directly to their phones.

We devised a similarly innovative idea for bands to promote their albums using RFID technology instead of NFC. Consumers buying an album could get a personalised RFID-enabled plectrum which when touched against specific posters for the album would mean they had exclusive content delivered to their email address or downloaded to their phones.

With these technologies becoming more readily available, marketers have the opportunity to create amazing experiences that draw together any number of traditional and non-traditional media channels to give the consumer more personalised campaigns with a greater sense of relevance and immediacy. This is unquestionably the future of marketing.

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