Edible Survival Guide Helps Land Rover Owners Survive

Everyone knows that “the medium is the message”, but no ad that I’ve seen in recent memory proves that point more than this print ad from Land Rover, called the Edible Survival Guide:

Land Rover Survival Guide

The guide aims to emphasize the exotic adventures that Land Rover owners are supposed to undertake, and includes the tools and information needed to survive in the desert:

  • The cover is made with the same reflective material used by the army, and can be used to signal for help.
  • The metal binding of the guide can be made into skewers, so stranded drivers can spear and cook any animals they’ve hunted.
  • The 28 page guide details all of the indigenous animals and plants in the area that are safe to eat.
  • The pages of the guide also include information on how to make a shelter, build a fire, and a map in case drivers wish to try and walk their way out of the desert.
  • Plus, if needed, the book itself can be eaten to provide the owner with a few additional calories. The pages are made of potato-based starch paper and printed with glycerin based ink, resulting in something that’s 100% safe to eat, with relatively the same nutritional value as a cheeseburger. (Though probably not the same taste.)

The ad was created by Y&R Dubai, who described the idea as follows:

While Land Rover vehicles can take on any obstacles in the desert, it cannot be said the same of their owners. Sandstorms, deadly animals and sinkholes are just a few things they might encounter. And when they venture deep into the desert, even the most experienced drivers can quickly succumb to the harshness of the desert. This book teaches them the basics to staying alive in the Arabian Desert, hence reinforcing what Land Rover stands for in a fun and engaging way.

The campaign was so successful that all 5,000 of the original books were quickly claimed, and Land Rover decided to print an additional 70,000 copies to include as an insert in a popular print magazine.

Sounds like a winning idea to me!

Let Me Touch It: A Recipe For Successful Magazine Ads In A Digital World

Sometimes, I wonder if advertisers are even trying.

Digital magazines have only existed for a few years, but I don’t think I’m asking too much when I say that if you’re going to advertise in one, you should at least be able to utilize the most basic functionality that this platform provides to help you tell your story.

I’m reminded of how poorly most advertisers have adapted to digital magazines as a medium every time I see this ad from Kohler:

Kohler Flipside

The ad is for the Flipside, a four-sided faucet with ‘Flipstream Technology’ that gives you four unique spray patterns depending on how you flip the faucet head.

Seems like a pretty interesting product, right?

Since this was a digital ad in a digital magazine, I immediately tried to grab the faucet head and ‘flip’ it to see the other three spray patterns. The result of my flipping was… nothing. The ad did absolutely nothing, and had no response to my touch input.

Ok, I thought, there are four spray patterns, and the iPad that I’m holding has four sides, so maybe all is not lost. Maybe it was too difficult to program the ad so that the faucet head rotated with my finger, but maybe it’ll show off each of the four spray patterns as I rotate the device. So I turned my iPad 90 degrees, and low and behold, the ad changed!

Kohler Flipside Digital Magazine Ad

Perfect, I though. Now we’re getting somewhere! I’ll just give it another rotation and…

Kohler Flipside

Crap. There are four ways to hold the device, and four possible spray patterns, but no matter what you do, you can only view two of those four patterns.

Even discovering the second spray pattern is left to chance, since the ad gives no indication that you should rotate it to see more images. I poked and swiped and tapped at the screen, but nothing unlocked the other two images. It will recognize portrait mode, and show one pattern, and it will recognize landscape mode, and show another pattern, but spray patterns three and four are apparently left to the imagination.

(Maybe the other two spray patterns just aren’t that good, and Kohler doesn’t show them on purpose?)

The end result is that I’ve gone from an interested consumer that’s willing to touch and play with the product, to a frustrated consumer that’s put off by the experience, and put off by a brand that didn’t take the time to create an ad that would show off its product’s main feature in an intuitive and engaging way.

To make matters worse, I would have been better served by a static ad that was just divided in fourths and showed four images of the four spray patterns. Or a carousel that scanned through static images on a timed rotation. Or hell, even a YouTube embed that showed a :15 demo of the faucet turning from spray pattern to spray pattern would have been more informative than what Kohler came up with.

It should also be noted, I wasn’t viewing this ad in the latest issue of US Weekly. This ad appeared in an issue of Wired, a magazine that caters to the early adopter crowd. And I have to imagine that Kohler bought the ad in Wired because they felt that the Flipside faucet would appeal to this digital, tech savvy audience.

And by all accounts, it should. It certainly looks the part. And I’m sure the different spray patterns are useful for different situations, and nicely integrated into a new and innovative product. But you’d never know by just looking at the ad, since you’re only able to poke at a static image of two spray patterns, and can’t find out more information without spending time searching online. (Which I’m not likely to do, given the fact that I’m not currently in the market for a new faucet. However, like most people, I’m always open to be wow’ed by something that I didn’t even know I needed, and could have found myself in the market for a new faucet if this ad had showed me all the things that I was missing with my current faucet in a quick and easy way.)

So what should advertisers keep in mind when designing a successful ad for a digital magazine?

  1. If your audience is in an environment where they want to touch and play with things, make sure your ad can be touched and played with.
  2. If your ad needs to be rotated or scrolled or tapped or engaged with in any way, make sure to highlight that fact in an obvious way. Don’t leave it up to chance.
  3. Don’t hide important information behind confusing and non-intuitive interactions.
  4. There are many ways to tell the same story, and sometimes, simpler is better. Don’t let novelty get in the way.
  5. Digital magazines are the future. If you’re not ready to produce ads for them, then you better get ready soon.

Best practices for digital magazine ads are hard to come by, since the medium is still so new. With that said, the opportunity should not be ignored, since this new format gives advertisers a whole new set of tools to tell stories in immersive and engaging ways.

Skittles and Trale Lewous are Odd Partners

Sometimes you just have to make the most of the opportunities in front of you.

Skittles Vending Machine

About a year ago, Skittles took one of their sweet looking custom vending machines (the same vending machines they give to celebrities) and offered it up to anyone that could convince them through either photo or video why they were a worthy recipient.

One (well actually two) of the responses came from Trale Lewous, a character played by Nathan J. Barnatt, a YouTube ‘celebrity’ that creates wacky characters and makes odd videos with those characters.

Predictably, his entry videos were a little… odd:

But that should come as no surprise, since Trale Lewous made odd commercials for Skittles on his own without any reward:

Since Skittles is an odd brand, they seized upon this odd opportunity, and delivered Trale his prize:

Since Trale was already a huge Skittles fan, the videos continued:

Skittles again seized upon the opportunity in front of them, and delivered a custom boombox to help Trale Lewous with his music videos:

A month later, another video emerged from the Trale Lewous/Skittles partnership:

By keeping the videos low-budget, Skittles doesn’t need millions of views to justify the campaign. Even a few hundred thousand well targeted views would be enough to make this campaign a success, especially when many of those views come from hard to crack communities like Reddit.

Now many brands would have called it quits after a series of successful videos, but Skittles decided to take their partnership a step further by making Trale the star of an online video contest, which they teased:

And then formally announced with their new official spokesperson:

RideTheRainbow.com is, as you’d expect, a bit odd, but it fits with the type of brand they’re trying to create, and appeals to their intended audience. (The same people that watch and enjoy videos featuring Trale Lewous.)

Since this whole thing started with a vending machine giveaway, the hope must be that by giving away a Skittles pinball machine, they’ll unearth the next Trale Lewous, and start the cycle all over again.

And with an endless supply of new talent flooding YouTube every day, doing whatever it takes to stand out, Skittles should have no problem finding their next star.