Volkswagen Banner Challenge

Volkswagen Netherlands has created an online campaign called GTI Bannerbahn that connects paid banner ad space with the real world by challenging the online user to catch a moving Volkswagen Golf GTI.

GTI BannerBahn is a circuit race across banner ads on Holland’s four biggest websites. The home pages of these four websites were painted on the runway of an airport. A Volkswagen Golf GTI was then filmed as it zig-zagged across the runway. On race day, September 13, participants will be chasing the GTI as it speeds through the banner spaces of each site. The fastest person to catch the GTI wins the car in real life.

Why I’m Curious

I think this is a neat bridging of the digital and real worlds that encourages users to interact with banner ads in an innovative way. I’m also intrigued by how the team used radio-powered drones to create video streams that will match the player’s viewing experience on the banner ad.


Crowd Sourced Fashion Shoot


The Selfridges department store launched an interactive ad campaign to promote its new denim department made up of images shot by the public.

The shop held a catwalk event and invited audience members to take pictures of denim-clad models using their smartphones or digital cameras. The images were used to create a collage to live online and on digital billboards. Photos and video from the experience can be viewed here.

Selfridges is also inviting jeans fans to submit Instagram photos of their favorite denim using the hashtag #denimlovers. Selected photos will appear in the store’s window displays and each week, one winner will receive a free pair of jeans.

Why I’m Curious

There’s still quite a bit of room in the digital space for unique crowd sourcing. I appreciate seeing brands execute these programs to freshen a somewhat routine initiative – in this case a fashion shoot. There was just a 16 hr. turnaround to collect the images from 300 shoot attendees to create the finished collage. In the end, the experience could be viewed at all angles and shared by anyone. I think it’s a neat way to work with influencers and get people involved and invested in the branded experience. Additionally, the Instagram hashtag sweepstakes rounds out the social photo sharing aspect of campaign.

PNB Tweet and Shoot

In celebration of its 40th anniversary of its partnership with Roland Garros, BNP Paribas gave users the opportunity to train Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before starting the French Open tennis tournament, via Twitter. The Tweet and Shoot event, which occurred on 23 May, allowed Twitter users to drag-and-drop a tennis ball on a virtual on-screen tennis court to adjust the positioning of their shot to challenge Tsonga. Each tweet, selected at random, would command a robot to map each shot to the positioning and throw balls to Tsonga with the location, power and effect chosen by the user.

Why I’m Curious:
The power on online activation is rooted in its ability to affect offline experiences. I think this is a fun brand awareness and user interaction experience (for the user and Tsonga) that brings the digital world to real life.

When Digital Becomes Real: The New Aesthetic

Digital design is leaving screens and seeping into the physical realm


Photorealist painter Chuck Close’s early airbrush techniques inspired the development of the inkjet printer, and now it seems that digital technology is returning the favor. From rug designs that incorporate images from google maps to furniture crafted to look like distorted JPEGs, a new vision of the physical is emerging from the digital. Call it a natural evolution from Close’s pixel-style paintings – the product of a disability as much as his artistic vision – or label it seepage from our virtual lives into the physical world.

Or, like a SXSW panel dubbed it a little over a year ago, you could call it the New Aesthetic.  These are actual pieces of furniture designed by Ferruccio Laviani to look like faulty downloads or distorted images from an overplayed VHS tape:

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 2.51.05 PM

Exactly what defines the New Aesthetic is difficult to pin down. What’s clear, however, is that our products, our artworks, even the spaces in which we live are changing as a result of our constant interaction (some might say dependency) with an ever-evolving digital meta-world.

Witness geometric jewelry made by mapping your foursquare check-ins:

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 2.52.43 PM

Or Rihanna performing her song “Diamonds” on Saturday Night Live in front of a bluescreen showing what looked like a screensaver… And in case that doesn’t convince you, check the backlash.

Why I’m Curious

Digital culture’s influence on physical design means that the anything-goes ethos of the Internet – if we can imagine it, we can build it; if we can build it, people will use it – is osmosing into the real world. What will it mean when “digital” no longer means 2D (or 3D contrivances) but actual physical creations that couldn’t exist without the inspiration of digital?

What does it mean for the relationship between traditional and digital advertising and media, for social campaigns and brand initiatives? We already consider our laptops, mobile devices and set-top boxes to be an integral part of our daily existence.

Are we on the cusp of a new design movement that integrates our digital lives into our understanding of real-world physical space? Is digital technology terraforming our physical world?

Answer: YES.

Perrier’s Secret Place

Perrier has created an elaborate new online gaming experience called Perrier Secret Place. The game takes viewers through a laundromat and into a speakeasy, where they can choose to explore the hidden world of intricate and mysterious rooms as one of 60 characters.

“Tonight you can be anyone you want,” says the concierge. By clicking on any character in the game, you suddenly see the world through that person’s eyes. These are actors, not animations, and you feel as though you’re really exploring an elaborate movie set or play. One with bottles of Perrier everywhere.

The goal is to find the “golden woman” and her hidden bottle of Perrier. The bottle prompts the user to enter into a drawing to win an exclusive invitation to one of the world’s biggest parties: a party in St. Tropez, New Year’s eve in Sydney, Miami Art Basel, Carnival in Rio and the closing of the Ibiza season.

Why I’m Curious

I appreciate how Perrier has added a fresh spin to gamefied content. The “choose your own adventure” style of this interactive experience is unique in that it allows the user to select their perspective of the environment. Sometimes the likeness of a brand can get lost in the creative. Perrier combats this with strategic product placement enmeshed with highly involved activity throughout the experience (e.g., the goal is to find a bottle of Perrier), a key to driving home brand awareness and resonance. Further, the incentive is very much on brand, relevant to the experience and an attractive motivator for their target. The game is available through desktop, iPhone and Android, bringing wide accessibility to a wide audience.

Volkswagon – The Search Engine Ad

A group of graduates of the Willem de Kooning Academy are taking Google’s Search Engine Optimization to a whole new level. They came up with Search Engine Advertising, which means that they are turning Google into a unique advertising medium. With the help of hardcore SEO-craftmanship it’s now possible to display a complete ad in the image search results.

“We’ve created this Search Engine Advertising campaign for Volkswagen during our third year in advertising, and we’re now talking with interesting parties to get this idea into production.”

Why I’m Curious:

We definitely do not always think of search as “cool” or “innovative” and this definitely opens up new ways of approaching what is often a not so exciting topic creatively.  its’ an interesting concept that would take some serious SEO skills to deliver, even just for an hour and likely only for a few people.

Google & Adidas to Create a Talking Shoe

Google partnered with artist Zach Lieberman and interactive collective YesYesNo to explore connected objects by creating an Adidas sneaker that can talk and share activity online.

From PSFK,

The shoe works similarly to a fitness tracking device, using an accelerometer, gyroscope, Bluetooth and other off-the-shelf technologies to analyze the wearer’s movements and offer motivating and timely commentary. It might tell you to get going if you’ve been idle for too long or cheer you on if it senses you being very active. Its comments can be posted to Google+ by the user, sent to real-time ad units, or broadcast via onboard speakers.

Why I’m Curious

Adidas isn’t the first brand to have the idea of merging technology and clothing. Just a few weeks ago we discussed Under Armor’s smart shirt, and the Nike FuelBand has been leading the pack for a while. It seems we want our clothes and accessories to do more than clothe and accessorize us.

I think it’s important to note that the shoes are not for sale, but I’m curious to see where Adidas takes this next. I have a feeling it wasn’t just for a SXSW stunt, but that they will eventually launch a shoe, a shirt, pants or something that incorporates technology.

Barneys Takes A Walk On The Wild-Side

Animation, designer duds and the power of instant purchasing come together in Barneys’ latest endeavor—a shoppable spring film called Wild Things.

Barneys Wild Things


Created by filmmaker and photographer Barnaby Roper under the direction of Barneys creative director Dennis Freedman, the film stars Kinga Rajzak and follows her through a black-and-white cartoon land while she wears looks by Isabel Marant, Acne, Carven, Rag & Bone, and beyond. Viewers can point, click, and buy as they watch the short, thanks to Liveclicker technology.

Why I’m Curious: 

The new video, besides being classic, quirky Barneys, puts a twist on the standard shopping experience by curating collections so users can easily click, shop and share without having to navigate through the site.  In addition to the main videos, mini-videos, designer interviews and other content will be part of the mix.  The only downside – the shoppable capability is only available on, where the video is shown, so it does have limitations.

Barneys is a great example of a traditional retailer who has made digital a core initiative and isn’t afraid to test and learn.  After redesigning their site in 2012, they moved their iconic Warehouse online permanently, have been promoting The Window, an editorial site with a heavy e-commerce tie-in and launched Twitter/Instagram scavenger hunt in partnership with Disney during the 2012 holiday season.

What other brands are doing a good job of integrating their business model with entertaining and engaging content in the digital space? Who is truly embracing the idea of test & learn to  discover the best ways to engage their audience?


There’s nothing like the atmosphere at a live sporting event. The crowds, the players being within shouting distance, and the nachos are truly an ‘experience.’ (Making nachos at home doesn’t even come close).

Earlier this week, the home of the Brooklyn Nets released the Barclays Center app in an attempt to merge the best of the stadium experience with the technological benefits of watching the game from home.


The Barclays Center app, which is iOS and Android compatible, is a new event app that allows spectators to interact with live in-game footage and other arena features. The app, which connects through the arena’s public Wi-Fi and is powered by Cisco’s StadiumVision Mobile technology, provides fans the ability to access live, in-game video, the official television feed, a 30-second rewind feature for replays, and up to four different cameras – mixing TV angles and GoPros mounted around the arena.

Incredibly, the app also lets users order food from their seat, send messages for display on the scoreboard, check-in, and interact with other users. The StadiumVision Mobile technology provides a nearly seamless stream of action to your phone at only a two second delay. It does this by using a ‘multicast’ connection, which keeps the stream from being overloaded and slowing down by splitting the feed and then delivering it individual to each fan. This is great if you want to watch a replay, and is certainly no worse than if you were listening to the broadcast on a handheld radio – as some fans still do.

Now, even if you are waiting in line for beer, food, to use the restroom, or are otherwise distracted, fans can get a front-row view of the action. For fans in the nosebleeds, they can get a little taste of what the high-rollers experience in the floor seats. And for fans that enjoy stats, replays, and different camera angles, they can enjoy the best of both worlds right from their hard, plastic stadium seating.

Why I’m Curious: This type of experience could go well beyond the basketball stadium – concerts, plays, baseball games, etc., and I think it’s a great opportunity for brands to get got involved in enhancing that “in the moment” experience.



Timehop Hooks Up With USA Today to Deliver Stories From the Past

From All Things D:

Anyone familiar with Timehop knows that the service will send you a little notification each morning, letting you know that your trip back in time to view your old status updates and tweets is ready. With the new partnership, users will see a significant, newsy item from the past, and the contemporary story matched to that day. So, for example, you may see what the state of the Mars rover mission was six years ago, and a story about where the program is today.

“What Timehop is doing is trying to work with the long tail of content and resurface it,” USA Today social marketing director Mark Smith told me. “Here, USA Today is trying to do the same thing with news content, and the ability to bring back old, iconic headlines to people on a daily basis.”

It’s not always the “obvious” moment, either. While an item may have been a huge deal say, three years ago, perhaps the lasting news value of it was nil. “We’re looking for those small moments that turn into something bigger,” Smith said.



ImageWhy I’m Curious:

As Mike Issac writes, “As Timehop is still fairly under the radar of the mainstream, it’s a way for USA Today to toe the waters of what social affiliate marketing can do, without going “whole hog,” as it were. And the paper has proved experimental in the past, as one of the first major news publications to partner with social magazine Flipboard.”

Microsoft’s Epic Plan To Turn Your Living Room Into A Giant TV

From Fast Company:

Microsoft Research has shared the first details of an interesting alternative. Their invention is called Illumiroom. A Kinect scans the shape of a room, then Illumiroom uses 3-D projection to paint your walls and furniture with images, breaking the borders of your TV like a dam bursting a river of pixels into your living space.



Watch the Video

Why I’m Curious:

As Mark Wilson at Fast Company writes, “In this regard, the project has a spiritual similarity to Panasonic’s Ambilight. Remember Ambilight? It was the line of TVs and monitors that projected LEDs onto nearby walls to enhance the immersion factor of movies. But Illumiroom could take this idea to its more ultimate (and satisfying) extreme. Plus, assuming Illumiroom were to become part of Kinect’s SDK, its capability in the hands of external developers–or anyone looking to automate projection mapping on the small scale–could be unpredictably awesome.” I’m excited to watch this type of innovation disrupt the television/gaming industries. 

Smartphones fit to measure…


For anyone (i.e. men) who don’t enjoy the process of clothes shopping and yet have also been let down by disparity in sizing across brands (or wishful thinking) when ordering online, a solution is on the way.

Researchers in the UK have developed functionalitywhich can turn any smart device into a personal tailor to give what they claim are far more accurate measurements:

“Using a smartphone’s camera and height as a starting point, the software creates a 3D replica of your body, estimating size at various points. The researchers believe this will be a more accurate representation of your proportions than traditional ’small/medium/large/XL’ labels.”

 I am naturally skeptical of this. Not just because I doubt how accurate so called measurements will be, but more so as I believe that this will only work when the brands/manufacturers standardise sizing and input these 100% ‘honest’ sizes into the same system. 

Why am I curious?

Firstly, as I want to 34 Long to always mean a 34 long.

Beyond this I think such software could have all sorts of (more interesting) uses for consumers and marketing. More accurate facial mapping? Creating 3D models of yourself to input into Augmented Reality environments? Measuring ‘stuff’… and so on.

1,000 Invisible Stores

– Jordan

From AdAge

Chinese retailer Yihaodian takes its battle for customers to the real world, with a clever guerilla stunt by Ogilvy & Mather. The company “launched” 1,000 stores seemingly overnight, located in front of Chinese landmarks, and in some cases, in front of brick-and-mortar supermarkets.

The catch: They aren’t real. They exist only in the virtual world, and consumers can see, visit or shop at them using an app while they are physically present at the “location.”

“We want to create buzz and raise awareness of Yihaodian’s more convenient shopping offer. While traditional offline retailers are desperately trying to move their businesses online, we thought we’d do just the opposite … and give the game an interesting twist,” said Ogilvy Shanghai managing director Yuan Yong in a statement.

The store works somewhat like a traditional supermarket. The augmented reality buildings are accessible via the app, which can tell whether you’re actually “there” or not. Customers can browse the aisles and check out — the goods will be delivered directly to them.

Why I’m curious:

We can see a trend of people trying to create value out of something different by combining the physical world with a digital space. For example we posted about Burberry’s new store in London that attempts a merge of their online store within a set of physical walls. I find it interesting that in order to get some peoples attention we need to revert back to a medium that seems to be becoming old news, but using it in a new way.

BuzzFeed launches new Rewind vertical with Myspace and Geocities yourself tools


BuzzFeed’s new Myspace and Geocities Yourself tool pulls in your Facebook data to create awesome, blinged-out Myspace and Geocities profile pages in no time at all.


From Digiday:

BuzzFeed is a modern publisher, but that doesn’t mean it’s without an appreciation for the past.

With its newest section, Rewind, BuzzFeed takes users back to the decade of their choice by serving up archived content of classic images. Posts include subjects like an infographic giving the history of the Legend of Zeldaunappreciated fashion trends throughout history; and photos of 1980s Olympians rocking feathered bangs and other unfortunate hairstyles of those times.

“The images are in public domain and often interesting archives that live obscurely on the Internet,” Buzzfeed’s managing editor Scott Lamb said. “The originality will come in what things we’re plucking out and in that sense, what archives and access to old material we can get that doesn’t exist already online.”

For the launch, a BuzzFeed app will turn back your Facebook pages to the halcyon days of Geocities and MySpace.


Why I’m Curious:

As Josh Sternberg wrote, GE is a launch sponsor, but there’s plenty of opportunity for brands. Since the company’s ad model is sponsored content and content marketing, brands, especially those with long histories, can bring readers back to a different era. For instance, Coca-Cola ads from the 1940s or a Sears & Roebuck catalog from the 1890s.

Weather and Fashion Forecast

By Vicky

Wevther is a new website that shows the weather forecast for New York City as well as what you should wear for the day. The creator of the website found that weather sites would give people data on the temperature and if it may rain or snow, but never gave insight into what people should wear that would keep them warm or cool enough. Now, that problem is solved with Wevther. The recommended clothing of the day come from Svpply.

Why I’m Curious

I have been in situations where I would check the weather and wonder what that really meant in terms of if I should bring a cardigan along or not. With Wevther that problem is solved and it gives fashion forward recommendations for what people can wear. Though Wevther isn’t associated with any brand, I think it would be interesting if this was a brand extension instead of an individual project. Clothing brands could definitely tap into this to recommend what people should wear for the day. It would be even more convenient as a mobile app, so people could check the website for what to wear when they wake up.

Make Art, Save Macaroni

By Vicky

In an effort to get kids to save macaroni for dinner instead of art, Kraft released a new iPad app “Dinner Not Art.” The app encourages kids to use their iPad app to make macaroni art instead of wasting macaroni noodles by making them inedible with glue, glitter and paint. Kids can place, rotate and paint noodles on the app, as well as placing their masterpiece on a digital fridge.

The digital macaroni masterpieces can then be shared on Facebook, and has a chance to be posted onto the Kraft Facebook or Pinterest page. In an effort to encourage more parents to have their kids make digital macaroni art, Kraft will also be donating 10 noodles for every digital macaroni noodle used to Feeding America until the end of 2012.

The app is available in app stores now, and will soon be available for desktops and laptops.

Why I’m Curious

I think this app is a smart idea to get more engagement from users on Facebook and Pinterest, especially because parents are already all about showing off their kids’ creations to begin with. The tie in with Feeding America also makes the campaign and cause stronger. Whether they really are trying to stop kids from making real macaroni art is a different story. But what they have done with “Dinner Not Art” seems to be a promising way for children and adults to immerse themselves in more Kraft experiences.

Microsoft launches “The Hunger Games” minisite



Microsoft is teaming up with Lionsgate this week to promote The Hunger Games. Due to hit theaters on Friday. Microsoft has partnered with Lionsgate to build a special HTML5 version of The Hunger Games promo site. The site incorporates some of the latest HTML5 techniques to produce movie-like effects such as stream, lens flare, and video projections. It also uses HTML video in unique ways, skewing the video to fit the circle of screens in the Control Room for example.

Visitors can sign-in using a Twitter or Facebook account to have their friends faces placed on banners and walls throughout the site, providing a somewhat creepy but familiar social experience. Although the site works in all modern browsers, Microsoft is hoping that its latest Internet Explorer 9 marketing effort will see fans of the movie flock to the minisite and gain access to some exclusive movie content.

[read more on the Verge]

Why I’m Curious

For Microsoft, it’s a chance to demonstrate the power of HTML5 and an opportunity to remind web users of Internet Explorer — there is even an animated IE icon in one particular section of the site. It definitely encourages web users to take another look at the browser, recently dubbed “the browser you loved to hate.” And the Hunger Games site certainly looks impressive for an HTML5 implementation.

The site is also interesting because it features a variety of hidden features for fans of the novel to discover as they wait for the movie. For instance, users can type “ivolunteer” in the control room screen to see an exclusive clip from the movie. More and more it seems brands are releasing exclusive content online in order to maximize impact on real world sales.

Whole Foods Film Festival

Whole Foods Market is giving its annual Do Something Reel Film Festival the digital treatment and taking it online. Now in its third year, the festival showcases films and documentaries about food and environmental issues.

Starting on April 22 (Earth Day), users will be able to stream a different film each month from Films will be available for a limited time and will cost between $3 and $5 for a single viewing.

The first film in the festival is called The Apple Pushers. Narrated by Academy Award nominee Edward Norton, the film follows five immigrant street-cart vendors who offer produce in New York City neighborhoods that usually don’t have access to fresh fruit and vegetables. Whole Foods will be screening the film at the Alamo Draft House in Austin, Texas, and in theaters in Boston, Detroit, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. At the Austin screening, a live panel will take pace with members from the film and food communities and this panel will be streamed online to users for free.

Although The Apple Pushers will only be available to stream between April 22 and April 30, the other films in the festival will be available for an entire month.

Why Am I Curious?

At first, a film festival might seem like an odd and out there venture for a grocery store, but based on all of its branding efforts, Whole Foods aims to be more than just a grocery store and the film festival is a great initiative that aligns with its greater mission of connecting and educating consumers about food as well as getting the word out about healthy and sustainable farming and consumption practices. I believe that by going above and beyond trying to sell groceries, Whole Foods is building a consistent brand platform and by amplifying the festival digitally starting this year, it is accumulating brand equity even among people who may not  be regular Whole Foods customers.