In late January, billboards with the cryptic message "inNw?" began appearing across the country. Since then, the campaign expanded to TV, text messaging, and a Web site that reveals that solves the mystery. The campaign's message: "If not now when?"
The mysterious effort is promoting a new Doritos flavor, Black Pepper Jack, to 16-24 year olds, a group PepsiCo's Frito-Lay division calls "Millennials."
"'If not now when?' is all about living life in the now and taking advantage of every single opportunity possible," said Lora DeVuono, advertising VP for Frito-Lay North America, in a statement. "This attitude is what is important to Millennials, and it's how they look at the Doritos brand."
The main agency behind the concept and the traditional advertising is BBDO New York. Tribal DDB Dallas created the Web site and online advertising. Hip Cricket, a Connecticut-based mobile marketing firm, designed the mobile marketing interaction. Spending on the effort wasn't disclosed.
The shorthand language of the campaign, including the central "inNw," is inspired by the way teens use text messaging and IM (define) to communicate. One billboard urges viewers to "Gt 2 Kno Jack," while the Web site urges people to "Speak UR Mind" and "Vote 4 UR Fave Music Videos." Text messages sent as part of the campaign tell people, "U culd win cul stuff frm Doritos, incl ipods, Digi Cams, DVDs + mor!"
"That's the language the Millennials speak these days, and that was a great fit for us to experiment with text messaging," Jared Dougherty, a spokesperson for Frito-Lay, told ClickZ News. Dougherty says it's the first time the company has tried text messaging in a campaign.
Text messages and billboards send users to the campaign's Web site, at innw.com. The site rewards people's curiosity by explaining that "inNw?" stands for "If not now when?"
"We were charged with taking that [concept] and making it come to life online," said Scott Johnson, executive creative director of Tribal DDB Worldwide. "We thought clearly the most important word in that phrase is 'now.' We wanted to design a site that really expressed 'now' in a completely different way."
To do that, Tribal DDB built a site whose main element is video of people walking by. As they stroll past, they seem to touch the screen, generating little icons with codes on them, such as "MYTUNE," "COWPOK," and "MATCHIT." Site visitors can drag those icons and enter the codes into the INNW? Instant Messenger alongside the video display. Different codes generate different rewards. Some link users to screensaver downloads, others to streaming audio, and still others to advergames.
"You have to act now if you want to take advantage of the code and unlock whatever is associated with that icon," said Johnson.
The video's background adds more immediacy: it's synched to the user's computer clock. A viewer checking out the site at twilight would see characters walking by at twilight.
"We're also planning on continually refreshing with new backgrounds and new people and new things you can unlock," said Johnson.
Online ads to drive users to the site include a sponsorship of Yahoo Music's "Dig It or Dis It." The creative promotes a sweepstakes, the innw.com site, and the Black Pepper Jack Doritos.
The text messaging portion of the campaign began with the teaser billboards, which urged people to text "46691" on their mobile phones with the message "innw?" When they did, they received a reply from Doritos asking them to guess what "innw" meant. The intent was to get people to communicate with Doritos, but most messages simply encouraged users to visit the Web site. "Go 2 innw.com anytime 2 c whats goin on," read one message.
Though the campaign has been running since late January, Frito-Lay won't provide visitor numbers or provide any data that would measure success.
Dougherty would only say, "We're off to a great start."
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Pamela Parker is a former managing editor of ClickZ News, Features, and Experts. She's been covering interactive advertising and marketing since the boom days of 1999, chronicling the dot-com crash and the subsequent rise of the medium. Before working at ClickZ, Parker was associate editor at @NY, a pioneering Web site and e-mail newsletter covering New York new media start-ups. Parker received a master's degree in journalism, with a concentration in new media, from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT