Monday, January 12, 2009

When Innovation meets Inspiration

Thanks for all the emails and comments on the new blog, the response has been great. Keep them coming. Now onto...

As we see the push for more and more 'retailtainment' and non-traditional advertising, the walls continue to fall and retailers are engaged and brands are AVIDLY looking for new ways to connect with their customers. Here are some great innovations that can help your brand stand out in these 'cluttered' environments.

I might dig deeper into the specifics for a few of these in future entries.

Bluecasting: Your Cereal Is Calling
The next time you get a message on your phone while you're out, it could be from your Mom, your friend or the Coca-Cola display your standing beside in the grocery store. Welcome to the world of bluecasting, this works via Bluetooth and allows the sender to broadcast content - for instance, video clips, interviews and sound samples - to mobile phones within range of their server. Servers will be located at high traffic areas, such as railway stations and alongside billboards. The technology has been around for a while; one past use that stands out is when Coldplay used it for the release of their album 'A Rush Of Blood To The Head'. When you walked by one of the Coldplay transits ads in the London Tube, your phone would buzz and you would have the chance to download a sample track from the record. This may have been a little early for it's time but as consumers become more digitally educated, I think we'll see this tactic used more.

Floorcasting: Get In The Game
This is a very cool way to engage customers, not that cheap but effective. An 'image' is projected from above onto the floor of the retail environment, the project also scans the area at the same time. This allows consumers to effect the image or even play a game i,e, Expedia used it to let people kick around a beach ball in the sand. The image can be programmed to react when people walk over it or as a tool for a brand ambassador. There is a neat one at the Sydney Duty Free store of a wine bottle in a pool...the water ripples if you step on it.

Outdoor Projections: Get Outside
HBO's TV show 'Voyeur' cleaned up in Cannes this year with this medium, winning the Outdoor Grand Prix. Their winning campaign was an image of the inside of a building in full motion that was projected on the side of a building. It looked like they took the wall down so you could see people walking from room to room. In Toronto, Boombox Marketing projected giant apes climbing up the sides of downtown buildings for the release of the King Kong video game. This can be a great tool with the right creative. Some shops that do these type of projections will do more of a guerilla type schedule, moving the projections around the city. Since this is a projected light, your target needs to be out after dark.

Interactive Windows: Everyone Loves A Peep Show
From Orange's 'gesture based window shopping' to Elle McPherson's interactive peep show windows, we are seeing retailers turning to technology to help engage customers. Orange's amazing new interactive window offers shoppers the chance to browse through products by simply waving their hands in front of the window. Elle McPherson's large windows for Fashion Week in New York interacted with people that simply walked by the front of the store. The Deisel store in Milan also engaged people with an interactive sculpture that showed them a reverberation of their reflections that were projected in front of them. The haunting, big brotheresque installation echoes the life of the facing square and the people that pass through it. It captures both movement and time, acting as a kind of digital mirror, albeit one that delivers back a very distorted and twisted reflection.

Pop Up Retail: Now You See It, Now You Don't
We are seeing more and more of these types of executions, from Charmin's well known pop-up washrooms in Times Square to the recent opening of Reebok's Flash Pop-Up store on Bowery in New York for the past holiday season. Reebok's concept was taken one step further by offering limited edition merchandise that was made available weekly only at the Flash location. This stores 'pop up' for limited time using a variety of structures including vacant store fronts, tractor trailers, shipping containers and in Charim's case it was built from scratch just for the execution. I think this trend will continue to help brands engage consumers in new ways.

Online Virtual Stores: Makin' It Real
A plain old website isn't going to be enough anymore. Amazon knows this and they recently launched Zoomi,i an online store with more of a bookstore feel then your normal online shopping experience. Zoomii's 'virtual bookshelf' allows you to peruse over 21,000 books from Amazon's catalog. Difference is, the books are visualized as stacks in shelves, with covers ordered alphabetically by author & organized by genre. following the typical Google Map interaction metaphor, users can click & drag across Zoomii's landscape of shelves, zoom in & out, or select a book's cover to receive basic statistical information. Watch for more retailers to follow as consumers look for better online shopping experiences.

Scentvertising: Do You Smell Burnt Toast?
Familiar with the “Got Milk?” ads? They just took the ad campaign to a new level. Using a new technology called “Magniscent” they made scented bus shelters. “what goes better with chocolate chip cookies than a big glass of cold milk?” The idea was to attract people’s attention using the scent which is emitted from a special adhesive strips that has the aroma of chocolate chip cookies. Great smelling bus shelters are the new trend! A relief from that bad body odour from the person next to you while waiting for your bus!