It’s Time for Digital to Go Physical!

Digital started as an effective customer acquisition medium; still remember back in time the bad old days of cost per lead when pitches were mainly focused on how we could reduce CPL of companies. (I had written a post more than a year back, cost per lead is dead.)

Over the last five years digital has evolved into a great branding platform, effective information dissemination medium, community building platform, and finally a method that allows you to discover trends and what consumers desire from your brand.

However, with the advent of cellphones and mobile devices, digital can now play a role in the physical sense of the world that takes engagement to a whole new level. Question: How many brands or agencies are prepared to leverage this aspect of digital effectively?

Let me share with you examples of how this has been beautifully executed as well as how brands can start planning for this:

Multiplier to events: Nike Chalkbot is the best example of translating digital into something that is physical into every sense of the word. People could text, tweet, send messages that would be printed on the road of Tour De France. Brilliant. I am currently reading this book called “Velocity,” written by the co-founder of AKQA, Nike’s digital agency. I believe the Nike Training Club, Nike + running apps are all amazing endeavors in taking digital physical.

Connecting with people in high footfall locations: Axe executed this in the London Underground. People could see falling angels next to them on a large screen when they stood at a particular spot. Simple idea, amazing execution.

Using a mobile phone to control parking of an A380 aircraft: Lufthansa launched a game in the malls, where one could control the A380 by dialing a specific number through their cellphone and then controlling the plane through digits on their phone. It was quite cool!

Let’s explore how we add digital as a multiplier to almost all marketing endeavors. I just finished a book called “Your Brain at Work.” The only way to generate recall is by deeper engagement; most of the ideas below will surely enhance engagement.

Events such as IPL: Having worked with Casino Royale Goa, I have understood that betting in most cases is not about money; it is the joy of playing. What if one came up with a non-money betting application. Everyone who enters a stadium get 100,000 points to start with, the person who collects the maximum number of points is given a signed ball, his photograph comes on the screen, etc. Can the same be extended to include everyone who is watching on TV? I am guilty of watching matches with friends where we had friendly bets – I do remember watching those matches more intently! The more engaged the audience, the more recall value for all advertisers.

Poll during music concerts: I had a drink with a friend who is going to the Madonna concert in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. I thought to myself, I remember all the songs of Madonna that she sang in the 80’s – not sure that I want to hear songs from her last album. Imagine if everyone who buys a ticket gets to vote what songs we would like her to play… so if 75 percent of the audience is my age, chances are Material Girl and La Is La Bonita would rule the roost.

Complement most TV shows: What if all the talent shows had polling through apps – this is in addition to the SMS polling that happens today. Yes it would reduce revenues through SMS. However, that revenue could be made up by it costing money to participate. Let’s be honest, most people are just too lazy to send an SMS. Imagine a reality show where the forth judge is the audience. So after every song and dance sequence, people press a number of their app, the average of that number is displayed on the screen, so there is audience polling at every stage of the show.

We are currently in a pitch process with someone who sponsors one of the largest events in the city. The more we brainstormed about it, the more we realized that most agencies or brands are not combining digital with the real world and we have an opportunity to create a niche for ourselves in this space. If I may say so modestly some of the ideas we have come up with are just mind blowing. Our aim is to give the same event a 10x multiplier by using digital as a catalyst at every touch point of the event… and I will make that into a follow-up post. ☺

Related reading