Tag Archives | Experiment

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.

Ken Block And DC Shoes Make Gymkhana A Viral Video Guarantee

Ken Block Gymkhana

Viral videos aren’t usually made, they’re chosen, but the second Gymkhana video from Ken Block and DC Shoes was born to be viral:

Since I’m guaranteeing that this one will be a hit, let’s take a look at what makes it work:

  • If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It – Their original Gymkhana video, called Gymkhana Practice, was viewed more than 20 million times, including 12+ million views on Ken Block’s site, 5+ million views on YouTube, millions of views on a special Gymkhana site including downloads of the high definition version, and millions more views on copies of the video that fans uploaded into their own accounts. With success like that, why change a good thing? Thankfully, they didn’t, and instead, they took what was so amazing about the first video and just added to it, including more stunts, more speed, and more slow-motion.
  • Give Viewers OptionsToo many companies try to retain too much control over their video, and only let viewers watch it on a channel of their choosing. DC Shoes went in the exact opposite direction, and put the video in as many places as possible, starting with YouTube and expanding out from there. By giving viewers a choice, DC Shoes allowed them to find the video wherever they looked, and in all kinds of formats, including downloadable formats that could then be saved and shared with others using a laptop, iPhone or iPod. They also made it a point to release the video in HD whenever possible, giving viewers the full experience and showing off the intricate detail of the slow motion stunt shots. I’m always amazed by how many companies create a fantastic video and then cripple it by releasing a low quality version online, so it was good to see that this was not the case here. Finally, the video is embeddable and sharable so that any blog or website can grab it and feature it, allowing the view numbers to grow and the buzz to spread quickly despite the fact that DC can’t easily convert those viewers into sales. Like the low quality video issue, I’m always surprised and disappointed by companies that put their videos online, but then don’t allow them to be shared, since that’s what the web is all about, and a lack of sharing represents a huge missed opportunity for additional views and increased buzz. (I’m even more surprised by companies that go so far as to remove copies of their videos when they’re uploaded by fans into their own account, since these videos can only represent an opportunity for additional views, and are obviously created by fans of the work. Deleting these videos just limits the amount of free exposure that they will receive, and more than likely pisses off a major fan of the brand.) For DC Shoes, the extra views that these extra copies of the video generate will just make the buzz that much more intense, and the long tail sales will more than make up for the short term sacrifice in control.

Ken Block

  • Do Something Unexpected – Before the first gymkhana (pronounced jim-kah-nuh) video debuted, no one had heard of the sport, including most hard core car guys, so it caught people by surprise. (In fact, they spent a few moments in the first video introducing people to the concept so that viewers would know it wasn’t just something that the DC Shoes team had invented.) That being said, when a 500+ horsepower tuner car comes tearing onto the screen in a screech of tire smoke and then proceeds to spins around for five minutes, people are going to take notice. In the second video, unexpected comes in the form of unique stunts that were done as much for their visual appeal as they were for their danger. These stunts include a donut through a series of florescent bulbs, each one breaking in succession and sending a shower of glass shards into the air, a high speed spin though a field of water balloons, a slow motion smash against a water balloon being held by a crash test dummy made famous by a TV show that Ken Block’s cohort Rob Dyrdek stars in, a donut around a paintball firing Rob Dyrdek himself to pay tribute to the donut around a Segway that drove a lot of the buzz about the first video, and finally, a spin under a semi-truck (possibly referencing the original Fast and the Furious movie) that ends in a massive slow-motion explosion.
  • Know Your Audience – Even if the video doesn’t get viewed by millions of people, it will get viewed by every single automotive enthusiast with a computer and a friend, so DC Shoes is guaranteed to reach their target market with their message. Occasionally, this hyper-targeting results in the sacrifice of wider appeal in exchange for a greater appeal within the target market, but in this case, DC found a happy medium that will serve everyone equally. Plus, by understanding who they wanted to go after and what those viewers wanted to see, they were able to create something that was a must-watch for that target, and even better, a must-share as well. Fire? Check. Explosions? Check. Loud, brightly colored car? Check and Check. It’s all there, and it’s all got one goal in mind: Grab the attention of every car guy on the planet and hold that attention for five minutes.

Gymkhana Explosion

  • Set A Due Date – There was still plenty of buzz surrounding the first video when word of the second video started to spread, so when DC shoes announced a date and posted a teaser trailer for the second video onto their website, the frenzy just compounded upon itself. By giving (and also sticking to) a firm release date, DC made everyone a part of the debut, and didn’t just limit it to a few select blogs in an attempt to control the roll-out. This also meant that anyone who wanted to grow their whuffie by being the first to share it with their friends could do so, because everyone would see it at the same time, so chances are, if you shared it on the day that it debuted, then those that you were sending it to had either not yet seen it, or had just seen it and would be eager to watch it again.
  • Take Calculated Risks – One interesting aspect of this video is the fact that DC Shoes took a risk and lulled through the first minute of the video with product placement and blatant selling (normally a mortal sin for any video wishing to go viral). However, since viewers of the first video knew that delayed satisfaction was all but guaranteed, DC knew that anticipation would be high, and that as long as they kept the selling section to a minimum and made it fun and interesting (which they did) that they could keep the attention of their viewers for an extra minute, and sell to them at the same time. It’s a best of both worlds scenario that rarely gets pulled off effectively, but I think that DC Shoes did a great job in this video of combining both goals.

One Final Note: Another cool thing that DC Shoes did that hasn’t really been done before was experiment with holophonic sound, allowing the viewer to feel like they were a part of the action and placing them ‘inside’ one of Ken Block’s donuts. It’s basically an extension of point three above, since the ‘Donuts Audio’ video was released as a supplement to the main gymkhana video, but by toying with the audio and encouraging users to listen to it with their headphones on, DC Shoes was able to provide some extra content for the viewers that liked the main video, and wanted to dig a little deeper into the whole concept:

The Good:

  • Builds upon the success of a previous video while maintaining the proven formula.
  • Was made available in a variety of formats on a variety of channels.
  • Used a firm due date and teaser videos to build up a huge amount of buzz, and then delivered on that buzz.

The Bad:

  • Excessive product placement will turn some viewers off.

The Future:

  • Over-the-top videos almost guarantee viral video success, though companies will need to find a balance between entertaining and selling.

DC Shoes – Gymkhana Two Project

GE Plugs Into The Smart Grid With Augmented Reality

Smart Grid Augmented Reality

GE’s Plug Into The Smart Grid campaign is a fantastic example of how augmented reality can be used to engage viewers and encourage them to interact directly with the message.

Though augmented reality isn’t a new concept, GE does do a few unique and innovative things with it:

  • You have to ‘open the door’ – By twisting and turning the Smart Grid marker, you are actually activating it, so that right from the start you feel like a part of the experience.
  • You can interact with the model – By blowing into the microphone, you actually cause the wind turbines to spin, which encourages you to interact with the experience and experiment with what’s possible. You can also tilt the Solar Energy model back and forth to move the sun and cause the solar panels to follow.
  • You can see through the page – By turning the marker into a ‘window’, GE has added an extra dimension to the experience. Instead of looking at a semi-3D model that pops off the page, it actually looks like it has become a part of the page, and that you’re holding a whole little world in your hands.

In addition to the details of the model, there are a couple of interesting ways that GE has extended the campaign to reach an even larger audience.

  • GE used a YouTube video to demonstrate the technology – By taping into the YouTube community, they opened up the experience to a whole new audience. Plus, it’s such a new and interesting idea that people want to watch and pass along the video demo all on its own, leading to more than a million views in less than a month!
  • GE used semi-interactive Flash banner ads to bring users to the microsite – When users mouse over the ads, the wind turbines begin to spin, giving you a preview of what’s to come at the full site.

    Smart Grid Banner Ad

  • GE provided more information for the curious user – Right below the augmented reality model, they posted a link directly to the source code for the technology used to power the model. Rather than hiding the technology or trying to claim it as their own, they embrace the open source community and encourage others to experiment with their own ‘ecomagination’.

The Good:

  • New and innovative uses of augmented reality keep the already new technology fresh and engaging.
  • Interactive elements encourage users to engage with the ad.
  • Taps into YouTube and the open source movement to reach a larger audience.

The Bad:

  • The augmented reality technology is a barrier to entry for those with computers that can’t support it.