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Ford and Lexus Experiment with the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition

For this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, two car companies created unique ad campaigns specifically for the issue, but also extended those print campaign into the online and mobile world through unique added content: Ford, and Lexus.

Ford Dalena Henriques

Ford’s ad for the new 2013 Mustang featured a tease of a model named Dalena Henriques. She only appears once in the magazine, in Ford’s ad, which is odd since most models make repeat appearances throughout the issue. However, there’s a good reason for this oddity: Dalena Henriques is a made-up model that Ford created for their swimsuit spread.

Ford was counting on readers to search for more of Dalena by firing up Google and searching for her name, since that search would more than likely end at DalenaHenriques.com, the only site that existed for this made-up model.

Dalena Henriques

On the site is a collection of additional photos of the car, each with additional, partial glimpses of ‘Dalena’. The photos show off everything from the taillights, wheels and hood vents to the interior, navigation system and door handles, and each includes a pun-filled caption from Dalena as she talks about how excited she was to be featured in the ad.

By guaranteeing that all searches for Dalena Henriques would end up on a site that Ford controlled (at least for a little while until posts like this flooded Google with her name), they were able to direct and control all search results without spending a single dollar on Search Engine Marketing.

Tori Praver Lexus Ad

Lexus decided to go with Tori Praver, an actual swimsuit model, for their ad. For the print version, Tori’s photo was turned into a race track, with ‘curves’ that only the new 2013 Lexus GS F Sport could handle.

While the concept is novel, it’s the extensions of the ad that caught my eye.

As many bikini-filled ads often do, the Lexus campaign included a ‘making of’ video that showed off a few additional views of the car, along with extended views of Tori Praver. (To be fair, this is to be expected, given the intended audience of the issue, and the ad.)

Taking things a step further though, they also released a game for iOS devices called TORI 500, where players were challenged to “see what it’s like to race the all-new Lexus GS around Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Tori Praver”.

Tori 500

Unlike a print ad, which will be viewed briefly while flipping from one page to the next, a mobile game is something that guarantees extended interaction between the user and the brand, and helps to increase the exposure time of the campaign.

Finally, in addition to the game, Lexus also created an app called Super Modeled that lets you take Tori Praver and/or the Lexus GS F Sport and “place these two famous models in virtually any photo on your iPhone”.

Given the recent explosion in popularity of photo editing on the iPhone, this was a smart move by Lexus to take advantage of this trend with a simple app that’s still likely to see heavy use.

Both Ford and Lexus were smart to test out experimental extensions on a large and highly targeted placement like the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Regardless of how these extensions perform, the print ads still serve their main purpose in the magazine, and any additional interaction with the campaign through these digital and mobile experiences can be viewed as icing on the cake.

LEGO Uses Augmented Reality To Make Models Come To Life

Lego Digital Box

LEGO is testing out a new idea called the Digital Box that could forever change the way we think of product packaging.

The Digital Box is the work of Metaio, the same company that created the Virtual Mini, and it uses the same augmented reality technology to create a virtual model of the LEGO toy from inside the box that sits on top of the box when held in front of a special interactive kiosk. While this might seem like a neat trick for in-store consumers, just imagine what it could do for online shopping.

As you can see in the picture, the Digital Box is just a monitor that’s connected to a computer that’s using a Logitech webcam to capture video. Each box contains a tracking mark, and that tracking mark tells the computer exactly where to place the LEGO model in the video, but it doesn’t need to be limited to just the LEGO box, as that tracking mark could just as easily be printed out from home and viewed through your own webcam.

Now, when shopping on Amazon or any other online e-tailer, instead of just viewing a picture of the completed LEGO model on your computer, you could actually hold a virtual representation of the finished model in your hands and twist and turn it to easily examine it from all angles. Taking the concept a step further, and sticking with LEGO as an example, you can even imagine a scenario where you could watch the entire model assemble itself on the screen before your very own eyes, giving you an idea of how difficult the model will be to assemble, and how everything fits together.

What’s interesting is that this imaginary scenario is quickly becoming a reality, as LEGO will be testing the Digital Box at a few of their European stores initially, but could roll it out to each one of their stores in the next year or two if the initial test is successful. From there, it’s not hard to imagine them integrating the technology into their website so that anyone browsing through the various LEGO models could get a very detailed look at each and every one before deciding which to buy.

The Good:

  • Augmented reality brings a boxed product to life and lets kids see what they’re really buying.
  • Low technological requirements make this campaign accessible to almost anyone.
  • Has the potential to easily expand online and drastically alter the way we shop for products through our computer.

The Bad:

  • Not yet an intuitive process, so many consumers will miss the campaign entirely.

The Future:

  • Augmented reality changes the way we shop for products online and brings many different static products to life.

Augmented Reality Will Change Advertising

Vuzix Wrap 920AV

In the spring of 2009, Vuzix will release a product that could forever change the way we think about advertising: the Wrap 920AV.

Vuzix is a leading manufacturer of video eye wear for the consumer, medical, and defense & industrial markets, and their Wrap 920AV sunglasses will be the first to feature ‘see-thru’ Quantum optics technology, allowing you to see the world around you in addition to the screen in front of you. With this new technology, as well as with their optional six degrees of freedom head tracking system and stereo camera accessories, augmented and virtual reality experiences will be possible that redefine the way we interact with information.

Since this is all very conceptual, perhaps it’s best to look at a few examples of how this new technology could be used in the world of advertising. Previously, we looked at Mini’s Augmented Reality Magazine Advertisement, and how it allowed consumers to interact with a 3D model of the Mini vehicle using existing technologies that almost every new computer owner has access to. While this was great for demonstrating proof of concept, there was still a disconnect between holding the magazine in front of a webcam and then moving the magazine around to view the Mini from different angles, and actually interacting with the Mini as if it were a physical model.

Vuzix Wrap 920AV Accessories

Now imagine viewing that same advertisement, but through a pair of the Vuzix glasses. By using the stereo camera attachment, each screen in the Vuzix glasses would be a live video of what was located directly in front of the glasses, and because you could see around the video screen as well, it would blend into your field of view, adding to your overall experience in a very natural way, rather than removing you from it. Thus, what you would see in front of you would appear to be the ad as if you were looking at it with your very own eyes, but you would actually be seeing a video of the ad being relayed through the cameras.

Unlike your own eyes, the cameras would be feeding through a computer, and that computer could then display a 3D model of the car into your field of view using the screens in front of you. Now though, instead of moving the magazine around to interact with the augmented reality, you could simply move your head around to view the car from different angles as if you were looking at a physical model of the car. Want to look inside or see the car from a different angle? Just move your head as if the car really existed. With almost no learning curve, it would be a very natural and intuitive thing to do.

What separates augmented reality from actual reality though would be the ability to quickly and easily change any part of the car to suit your taste. Want to see how a different set of wheels would look with your favorite color of paint? Just click, and the new wheels would instantly appear on the 3D model. Taking the idea even further into the future, now imagine that you can control the 3D model on your desk using your keyboard. Instead of just viewing the car from different angles, you can now drive it around your desk like a video game, interacting with it as if it were a real toy in front of you.

Wrist Watch

For another example, imagine a watch company that creates an augmented reality tag that can be included in its magazine ads. By simply placing that tag onto your wrist and then viewing it through the Vuzix glasses, a virtual representation of the watch would appear on your wrist. Sure, you could technically do that now by creating a paper cut out of the watch and placing that on your wrist, but with augmented reality, the watch could instantly transform into any model that the company makes. Plus, instead of just laying on your wrist like a static representation, a watch viewed through augmented reality could actually tick away like a real watch, showing the current time and giving you a very accurate idea of what the real watch would look like on your wrist.

The Possibilities Are Endless

In addition to their stereo camera accessory, their head tracking system would also allow you to move and rotate your viewing perspective forward and backward, up and down, and left and right by just moving your head in the desired direction. To see how this could change the way we think about advertising, imagine a realtor that allows you to take virtual tours of their homes from the comfort of your own home without ever leaving the couch. Or how about an auto company that lets you sit in front of your computer and view the interior of their car as if you were sitting in one on the showroom floor.

While all of the above may have seemed like science fiction just a few years ago, we’ve finally reached the point where it’s both economically and technologically feasible to create virtual and augmented reality worlds that the average person can interact with and understand. Of course, like any new technology, it’s going to need a huge amount of adoption to break into the mainstream, but considering the potential that a device like this would enable, I don’t think they’ll have a hard time convincing people to give it a try. The question is, will advertising be ready to utilize this new medium to its full potential?

The Good:

  • Augmented and virtual reality is a technology that already exists.
  • Video glasses will allow the average consumer to interact with this technology in a very natural way.
  • Price will be affordable for most consumers.

The Bad:

  • Needs a large amount of adoption to be economically feasible for advertisers.

The Future:

  • Interactive ads viewed through augmented reality glasses allow consumers to interact with virtual products as if they were physical objects.

Vuzix – Wrap 920AV

Watch Image Via Caitlinator