Wake Up to the Scent of Bacon…Without Bacon

Why wake up to a boring alarm clock when the sound and aroma of sizzling bacon can act as a substitute? Fans of Oscar Mayer bacon can now enter to win an iPhone attachment that does just that.

In an attention-grabbing move, the brand launched a feisty microsite (wakeupandsmellthebacon.com) where bacon enthusiasts can learn about the device, watch a video – and of course – flip through a glossy, parallax-based stream of product benefits. Let’s not forget that fans can enter to win the device, too.

Oscar Mayer Bacon Alarm

Source: PSFK

Why I’m Curious

In some advertising circles, “stunts” are considered a dirty word. Yet in our people-are-now-publishers world, they’re becoming the new go-to way to drive social conversations at scale. Just look back on the past few months of what’s been shared to Curious Fridays – almost all of the celebrated work is bold, highly creative and often “stunty.”

Sure, publishing a TV spot to social will drive some engagement – put anything out there and someone will “like” it – but this new model of content is much more ambitious, creatively inspired and attention grabbing enough to function at social scale.

The point? Everything we create is inherently “social” – whether it’s a microsite, branded video or product development. The trick to harnessing the power of social is ensuring that creative is novel enough to warrant sharing. Call it a stunt, campaign or whatever you wish, bigger, more wild ideas will always get more people talking. And that, my friends, is not just a crispy, pan-seared trend.

Navigational Tech Inspired by Theseus and the Minotaur

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Students in Italy created an app to help the blind navigate using only their smartphone and sense of touch.

Various paths are mapped out through a building with colored tape on the ground, which the smartphone camera picks up as the user waves the phone back and forth. When the line passes under the user’s finger on the screen, the the smartphone will vibrate to provide a tactile indication of where the line falls.

via PSFK

Why I’m Curious

Tales of inspiration like this always seem a bit far-fetched to me. All that aside, this tech has many great applications. I have a hard time imaging this implemented as a visual aid, since many sidewalks don’t even have the regulatory yellow bumps. It could, however, be a fantastic promotional tool or form of branded entertainment. I imagine it best being used in a store: a little kid following a path to his favorite snack at the grocery store. Or at an event, where partygoers have to follow the hidden path to find the location.

Also, 3-D Printed Candy.

Pop Dongle for Scented Gaming

 

Popcorn brand, Pop Secret wanted to drive buzz around a new game it developed. To help promote it, it created a dongle that plugs into the audio jack of a phone. The dongle emits popcorn aroma based on how successful the player is at the game. 

 

There are, however, only three Pop Dongles available and they’re being auctioned on eBay. One sold for $315. 

<Pop Dongle, designed by Deeplocal>

Why I’m Curious

The pop dongle isn’t a revolutionary new technology. The people in Japan have been trying to make smell-o-vision for a while now. It’s just the first time a brand has actually used this technology to bring it to consumers. 

The limited quantity of these devices helps drive buzz because scarcity implies exclusivity, helping demand skyrocket. The fact that a tech guy or just an avid fan would drop $315 on this gadget is pretty impressive. Also, if this device were actually mass produced, it would actually drive sales because who can resist the smell of buttery popcorn? 

 

Android Kit Kat hosts 3D-printed ‘Chocnology’

To promote Android’s latest Kit Kat OS, Kit Kat South Africa partnered with Google and Native VML to create the world’s first 3D printed chocolate exhibit: Chocnology.  Described as an intersection of chocolate and technology, the designs were created by South African artists using the Android OS and online 3D modeling tools.

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“To produce the artwork, a 3D printer that traditionally uses a plastic-based filament was manipulated to use chocolate as its raw material, allowing the creation of intricate, three-dimensional sculptures” – CreativityOnline.

Chocnology works are on display from Thursday November 7 until Sunday November 10 at the Museum Of African Design (MOAD) in Johannesburg. Fans can follow the gallery opening and tweet their own experiences at @KitKatSA using #Chocnology.

Why I’m Curious

The Android Kit Kat relationship is clever in itself, but bringing it to life in a tangible (and delicious) way is incredibly creative and buzz-worthy. This could have easily felt gimmicky for other OS’s, but the stretch in 3D technology is a great fit here, given this is a new operating system named after a beloved chocolate bar.

Infiniti’s Interactive Film “Deja-View”

Luxury auto maker Infiniti has partnered with The Blair Witch Project’s producers, Campfire, to release an eerie choose-your-own-adventure interactive movie called Deja-View.

The 20 minute film centers on a well-groomed couple driving on a desert road in their Infiniti Q50. They seem like a pair, but ultimately, they’re unsure of who and where they are, whom to trust and where they’re supposed to be going. By dialing a special number and code on their cellphones and actually “talking to” the characters (using technology such as natural language processing systems), viewers will be able to affect the characters’ choices and help them work out what’s going on. The outcome of the movie will be tailored to their choices.

(Via Creativity-Online)

Why I’m Curious

This is an innovative application of branded entertainment. It’s neat that the film uses language processing technology to adapt to the viewer, depending on their conversations with the onscreen characters. The choose-your-own-adventure model creates an interactive element that viewers are invested in, while incorporating various digital platforms, including websites and smartphones, to tell the story.

State Farm Brings Back “Chaos in Your Town” – This Time on Mobile

Couple years ago, State Farm introduced you to “Chaos in Your Town,” a website that let you plug in your home address and witness a robot wreaking havoc on your neighborhood. Now, the insurance giant came up with the second iteration of the campaign — except this time, it’s mobile.

The mobile iAd uses the GPS capabilities of your smart phone, replacing the manual address input requirement from 2011. The result is a movie featuring that robot going on a rampage in your current location.

One of the challenges was to drive users to call State Farm and get a quote that didn’t feel forced — some interactivity was incorporated to that part of the ad, where you’re asked how you want to respond to the robot. This also helped with the challenge of driving users to call State Farm and get a quote in a way that did not feel forced.

It’s no surprise the insurer is bringing back Chaos in Your Town, which racked up some pretty impressive numbers in terms of consumer engagement in its previous stint. In the first 10 weeks of the 2011 Chaos in Your Town effort, with a digital media spend around $700,000, the campaign

  • Garnered more than 900 blog mentions
  • Saw more than one million user-generated films were created
  • Resulted in more than 200 million user-generated impressions

In the following 20 months, without any paid media support, the campaign went on to generate 6+ million additional user generated videos, bringing the total to about 7 million films.

Why Am I Curious?

I think the most interesting part of this example is how much engagement and interactivity it brings into an ad. Sure it is using Google StreetView images as opposed to actual Augmented Reality but the end result still seems to really stand out from rest of the online ads and draws users to engage with the ‘game’ while still giving a strong brand message at the end.

Food Meets Fashion

Clothing retailer Uniqlo has launched an iOS app that blends fashion and food by showcasing 24 recipes from six up-and-coming American chefs.

Each recipe in the Uniqlo Recipe app features a palette of bright colors and textures, which are matched by the chef’s Uniqlo outfits. For example, Chef Brian Leth wears a brown cardigan to introduce his Dark Chocolate Sandwich recipe. Users can click to instantly buy each of the featured clothing items the chefs are wearing. The app also includes a kitchen timer featuring cooking sounds.

Why I’m Curious

It’s amusing to see a fashion retailer pair its offerings with food in this way. The two don’t inherently go together, yet the brand has found a way to connect them through shared attributes like color and texture. The end result is an application that provides functional utility in addition to entertainment. Given the disparate nature of the two elements however, I wonder how many people will actually download the app.

Banksy’s cryptic month of art in New York

Famous British street artist Banksy is unveiling new work all month on the streets of New York City.  The mysterious talent announced Oct. 1 on his site that he’s going to be “attempting to host an entire show on the streets of New York.”

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His site, banksy.co.uk, was redirecting to banskyny.com, and a telephone number sits alongside each piece of art. After dialing in, observers can enter the piece’s code for an “audio guide.” (Which in Banksy-style, proves to be not very revealing.) Dial 1-800-656-4271 and then either 1, 2, or 3 to listen to gems like “You’re looking at a type of picture called graffiti, from the Latin ‘graffito’ which means ‘graffiti’ with an O.”)

He is also posting his art, along with clues about its location and the audio number on Instagram. He also surfaced on Twitter the day his New York show started, with almost 10,000 followers after only five tweets (the Tweets don’t seem to have a connection to the art). – via @Creativity-Online

Why I’m Curious

I’m curious about the the social and mobile elements he is incorporating into each of his pieces. The  information you get from dialing the phone number is extremely vague, sarcastic and ironic (the music at one point on #2 completely covers the audio) – much like the artist himself.  The fact that he’s posting to Instagram and Twitter (albeit, Twitter hasn’t thus far added anything to the experience) seem more commercial that he’s appeared before. While these items may seem interactive, they are still just one-way communications from Banksy to everyone. The most interactive part of the ‘show’ so far has been the tagging over his artwork. As Creativity Online mentions, Banksy has long been critical of people who label graffiti as vandalism, so it’s unclear whether he wants people to come and tag his pieces or not. I’m wondering if that’s the point…

Libraries for Everyone in Uganda

 

Ugandan telecom company MTN wanted to  promote its cell phone service while doing something good for the youth in Uganda. So they placed full page ads in newspapers in Uganda which displayed books, which became virtual libraries. Ugandan children then used their feature phones to access the books. 

 

The brand asked people who saw the ad to tape the “virtual library” up wherever they wanted, so they could share the books with their community. To read a particular book, users texted that book’s USSD code (a mobile system similar to SMS accessible via feature phones) to a special number. They were then sent the text of the book to read on their feature phone. 

 

Why I’m Curious

We saw a similar example of a brand taking old phones and putting books on old cards memory cards that could be loaded into children’s feature phones. This seems to take it to the next level with more community-sharing functionality. 

I’m curious to see if there are other simple or old technologies out there that can be used to better share information or resources. With Amazon Kindle, we currently can rent books or be part of a lending program. The same is true for iTunes music, which is available on 5 devices. What are some other things we could reasonably share to defray costs? 

Ad Platform Pays People to Host Ads on Their Phone’s Home Screen

Wouldn’t we all look more kindly upon smartphone ads if someone paid us to do it? That’s the idea behind Android app Locket, which displays ads on a phone’s lock screen. A user earns one cent each time he or she swipes to unlock the device.

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Founded in March, the app has already attracted 150,000 users and signed big-name advertisers like OrbitzAmazonSpotify, and SunnyD. To the orange-flavored drink brand, Locket is an opportunity to target “mobile moms in grocery stores.”

Consumers may be targeted by demographic, age, location, time, and type of device. Glancing quickly at their phone, they see a static advertisement. Swiping right unlocks the phone; swiping left engages the ad, bringing the user to a brand’s landing page, coupon deal, or video. Users get paid whether they engage or not, and may cash out earnings as a gift card, donation to charity, or a simple PayPal transfer to a personal bank account. Brands are rotated constantly to avoid tiring out users, and Kim claims a click-through rate of four percent (four times the average) for marketers.

Why Am I Curious?

I am curious because it is a very interesting idea with immense hyper-targeting opportunities and one that consumers voluntarily sign up for. However, despite the initial 150,000 people sign up, I am not convinced that the payout is big enough to convince people to actually do this and clutter their personal property with advertisement. Or is it perhaps that people who would sign up for this service would a self-selecting group (“Couponers”) that end up dictating what kind of ads are served on the platform?

Your Phone’s Homescreen: The Next Ad Platform

locket-ads2-copyNow brands can truly own your mobile device. Locket, a new Android app, displays ads on a phone’s lock screen and pays users one cent every time they unlock their device. The app has already attracted 150,000 users and signed on major advertisers including OrbitzAmazonSpotify, and SunnyD. These high-definition, fullscreen ads go far beyond run-of-the-mill mobile ads and pop ups ads.

Why I’m Curious: As more brands realize that people are media, there will be more platforms and pathways for tapping into that even further. Clearly this app provides a highly targeted way to speak to consumers – brands can target not just by demo and age but by location, time of day and type of device. Time will tell whether consumers are interested more in the money or if brands find a way to delight consumers with each swipe.

Explore Your City With Your Shoes

<via contagious>

Puma launched a new app, PUMA RUN NAVI, which combines the functionality of Google Maps, Google Places, and the best elements of other running apps to help runners find the best route to meet their distance and sightseeing goals. 

 

Users input the things in the city they want to see and the distance they want to run. The app then generates the best course to meet both goals. During the run, audio cues notify the user of when to turn right or left, how much distance has been run, and when an attraction is reached. 

 

Why I’m Curious

It seems like the app market is already saturated with self-tracker fitness tools, especially running apps, which are dominated by Nike+ and Fitbit. Why add to an already saturated market? 

On the other hand, this app does bring some new routing functionality to the table, but is that going to be enough to draw users? Nike’s app is directly linked to the shoe or a bracelet, whereas here it seems anyone can use the app. The objectives are slightly different though: Nike is aiming to acquire new customers and drive loyalty, while Puma is seeking to merely launch a new shoe, positioning it less as about achieving and more about enjoyment of running. 

 

Blink: When Your Eyes Are The Trigger

Virgin Mobile‘s latest Web spot harnesses viewers’ eyes, and their webcams, by delivering strange new video clips every time they blink, creating a new video experience with each viewing but always touting a $35 monthly phone plan. The “Blinkwashing” campaign is the final piece in Virgin’s “Retrain Your Brain” campaign and will live exclusively on YouTube. The video selects clips from 25 films and has more than 2 million possible combinations.

Read more here.

Why I am curious: 

The idea of “Blinkwashing” attempts to illustrate the brand’s message that consumers can “take control” of their phone experience (e.g. money-saving, no-contract offerings).The initiative offers a completely new experience every time you watch it…however, it is one that you cannot control!

Here is the Retrain Your Brain campaign…

A phone made out of blocks

Two things…First, a phone you never have to throw away. Second, the explosive social platform the phone’s inventor is using to promote it.

Phonebloks is a concept that looks at the mobile phone as a constantly upgradeable, constantly renewable device.

Thunderclap is a platform for building support for a message, and then broadcasting said message with massive scale (we first picked up on it here). Think of a Kickstarter for a message…reach a certain threshold of support for a message, and that message is then blasted out across all of your supporters’ social channels.

Why I’m Curious?

Phonebloks is a very disruptive idea…in order for it get off the ground, however, consumers really need to rally around it. Is the prospect of a perpetually upgradeable, customizable phone, albeit one that will basically look like everyone else’s, sufficiently appealing? One thing’s for sure…OEM’s are certainly not going to help this along.

To the rallying around…Thunderclap seems like an immensely powerful way to get your word out there. As long as you have something that your peers will feel passionate about (be it socially- or commercially-minded), this platform can go a long way towards raising awareness around it.

Thanks Tony for the tip!

A New iPad Browser That’s Worth a Try

This week Opera released Coast, a browser crafted specifically with the iPad experience in mind. Making maximum use of the iPad’s screen size, and tap/swipe navigational features, the browser eschews standard elements like the URL bar and back/forward nav buttons in favor of more “iPad-friendly” interactions. The app has been met with stellar reviews.

Here’s Opera’s pitch:

Number one, every design element in Coast has been carefully crafted for iPad. It’s not just a mobile interface scaled up to fit a touchscreen. 

Number two, it’s comfortable to use, looks great and is based on intuitive swipe gestures.

Number three, all the stuff you don’t see. We have invented a lot of technology that works under the hood, keeping you safe and secure.

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Why I’m Curious?

With all of the discussion around optimizing experiences across devices, it surprises me that it’s taken so long for someone to take another look at the tablet browsing experience. I unfortunately haven’t been able to give Coast a try, but given the reviews, I’m led to believe that the experience is quite the improvement.

Unfortunately for Opera, it’s tough to see Apple really allowing this to take off…Expect to see a new-look Safari in the near-future.

Arcade Fire’s Google Chrome-Powered Music Video

For their new “Just a Reflektor” video, Arcade Fire uses Google Chrome technology to let you interact with the music video on your smartphone.

First you must connect to the Just a Reflektor site on your desktop then follow the instructions on how to connect your phone. The project links your computer to your smartphone through a webcam, turning your phone into a visual effects controller with halos, reflections and wireframes in the video adapting to every movement.

Additionally, this project is open source so users can play with the web code (primarily JavaScript and WebGL) to build their own customized experience.

Why I’m Curious

Instead of going with a traditional approach to sharing a music video, I appreciate that the band has created an interactive user experience with their content. It’s a neat application of Chrome technology that we haven’t seen music artists use quite like this. Although it might realistically be annoying to hold up your phone to your webcam while the whole video plays, the project has a personalized element in that it adapts to your movements. That and the fact that it’s open source are enough to attract existing and prospective fans’ attention.

NFLPA + Uber = No DUI’s for Your Favorite Players

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They say there’s an app for everything – well now that includes being an inebriated NFL player who needs a ride but would rather not risk a PR disaster.

The NFL Player’s Union has partnered with Uber to provide players with premium access to their car services in any of the 20 NFL cities. All active NFL players receive a personalized keychain card with $200 in starting credit. This new partnership highlights a key piece of Uber’s agenda, “To educate city governments that this [service] reduces drunk driving and gets people out of their cars” – Travis Kalanick, CEO/co-founder of Uber.

Fun Fact: There were 10 cases of DUI/DWI charged to NFL players just this offseason

Why I’m Curious

This is a great example of a great idea, coming to life through a small tech brand/app, solving problems. Uber has been picking up a lot of momentum in terms of partnerships and offline activations in key markets such as Brooklyn’s #BKLovesUberX campaign which gave out free rides during the last weekend of August. With the rise of car sharing/service apps, I am curious to see how these type of partnerships will elevate awareness and impact the way we see and use transportation.

Red Bull Flow

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Red Bull has launched “Red Bull Flow“, an app for the BMX and skateboarding community to film and share their tricks.

With Red Bull Flow, users can stitch together seamless films from their shorter videos, showcasing their tricks, without the need for any editing software or prior editing knowledge. After filming their video clips, users add tags to the video specifying the rider, trick and location. Next, the video is published to Flow and may also be shared on Facebook. In Flow, users can discover, watch and share other people’s tricks on their phone or as collaborative videos – ‘Flows’ – on redbullflow.com.

Watch the video for the app here.

Why I’m Curious

What’s interesting about this app, is that YouTube, Instagram video and Vine already exist for video sharing, yet Red Bull has created a unique differentiator in their branded video sharing app. By building an app catering to their BMX and skateboarding audience, Red Bull is essentially creating a new social network for their target to share their tricks, get inspired and essentially learn from each other. In this way, Red Bull is hosting a relevant, long-term branded social experience.

Coca-Cola promotes getting active via mobile check-ins, scavenger hunt

Coca-Cola has teamed up with Global Poverty Project on the “Movement for a Movement” campaign that involves a scavenger hunt throughout New York leveraging mobile check-ins to educate consumers about social issues and trigger donations. The goal behind the campaign is to promote active, healthy lifestyles to fight poverty in New York. Ten different nonprofits, including organizations such as the Police Athletic League, are included in the effort. Each nonprofit correlates to a location that consumers can use their mobile device to check-in.

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Users who check in at all ten locations will unlock a digital badge and be entered to win tickets to the Global Citizen Festival as well as additional prizes from Coca-Cola.

Each mobile check-in also triggers a $5 donation from Coca-Cola towards the nonprofit that is linked with the location. Coca-Cola will donate up to $800 at each check-in spot.

Why I am Curious

“Mobile check-in technology is a great fit for the ‘Movement for a Movement’ campaign as it drives people to get out and get active while learning about these great organizations that are working to make New York City healthier and more sustainable,” said Caren Pasquale-Seckler, vice president of social commitment at Coca-Cola, Atlanta.

Geo-Fencing: Coca-Cola Personalizes Billboards

Using geo-fence technology, Coca-Cola Israel notches on another innovative “Share a Coke” campaign extension. Anyone who downloaded the associated app would be able to enter their name. Once the they begin to approach one of the many Coca-Cola billboards, their phone would connect and broadcast their name in a message “Enjoy Coca-Cola with…”

Coca-Cola Personal Road from Gefen Team on Vimeo.

Why I’m Curious
Geo-fence technology is becoming more fascinating as the worlds of social and mobile continue to collide. The possibilities for brands to add value to their relationships with consumers are boundless. Beyond a cool branding experience, how can this kind of technology be leveraged to build equity in other core activities such as customer service, point of sale, and more.