Tag Archives | Weather

Columbia Uses Pandora To Create An Experience

Columbia Pandora Banner

Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of music on Pandora, and while their Music Genome Project is great, it’s their advertising that has kept me coming back for more. By working with companies to integrate their ads into the overall experience, Pandora is able to use their advertising format to create value for both the advertisers and the users. One example that really stood out recently was the integration of Columbia, which brings together a banner, backgrounds and playlists to create an entire branded experience.

Experience marketing is a growing trend in recent years, as companies think outside the banner and look beyond traditional media for their next customer, but it’s often costly, time and labor intensive, and usually relies on social media to spread the experience of a select few out to the larger population. What Pandora has managed to do with their advertising is to create an experience that, while not at the scale of a traditional experience marketing campaign, does manage to spread a sponsor’s message to a much larger audience.

The ‘Pandora Experience’ goes like this: When listening to the free version of Pandora on Pandora.com, any user action (such as changing the volume, skipping or rating a track, or changing a station) changes the banner(s). This allows Pandora to ensure that their ‘views’ are actually being viewed, and probably helps boost the numbers when it comes time to negotiate costs. Sponsored banners (vs. remnant ads served through ad networks) usually include a site takeover that changes the background as well, though not all advertisers are using that feature to its full advantage.

When Columbia makes it to the front of the sponsored banner rotation, listeners are presented with a banner that looks like a dashboard interface that has been customized to include their local weather forecast. While banner customization based on IP address has been available for a while now, it’s often inaccurate at best, and usually results in a very rough and forced feeling of customization. On Pandora however, account holders provide a zip code when they register, so the Pandora system can accurately match each user to a location they’ll recognize, even if they happen to be traveling or at work and away from their home base.

With this single piece of user data in hand, Columbia matches the user’s current weather to a piece of clothing in their current collection. Users can then scroll over the rest of the five-day forecast to see what Columbia would recommend for the upcoming weather, or arrow through a larger catalog if they see something they like and want to investigate further. Each type of weather also includes a customized playlist that a user can add to their collection of Stations, and when listening to that custom playlist, the user exclusively sees the Columbia banner and the Columbia-sponsored background that matches the weather. (Or maybe the weather that the user wishes they had, as Columbia also allows users to select a variety of alternative weather options in case they want to brighten up a stormy day with the Sunshine Playlist.)

What’s so great about this medium is that Columbia can use it to transport your mind away from your desk and into a winter wonderland, where you can see the snow and hear the winter music, and then think to yourself, ‘You know, I probably will need a winter jacket for that ski trip I’ve got planned.’ They grab your attention with personal details that you wouldn’t expect an advertiser to present you with, and then use that attention to draw you into an experience that promotes the brand to more than one of your senses.

Columbia’s attention to the detail can also be seen in the way they have designed the banner, with plenty of arrows to direct an interested viewer’s attention to the important areas of information. For starters, every arrow but the ‘Buy Now’ button points away from the product, giving your eye a point to focus on that centers on the product they want to sell you. Then, if your eye works its way down from the forecast through the trail of orange, there are arrows along the way to guide you from the product to the weather to the custom playlist to the ‘Add Playlist’ button. It’s subtle, but there’s some good UI going on in this banner that works well for the intended purpose. If I were to find fault, I’d say that the alternative playlist selection is a little funky, but that’s nitpicking at best, since most users will just want to select the playlist they’re given that matches the weather they’re currently experiencing.

By presenting each user with a single banner at a time, and not overwhelming them with a barrage of advertising, Pandora has created a valuable placement that advertisers should be willing and happy to pay a premium for. At the same time, companies who are going to pay that premium need to be smart about it and think like Columbia to create an experience that adds to the medium and gives users a reason to engage with the advertising.

The Good:

  • Integration creates a full experience that can be shared by a large number of consumers.
  • A small amount of user data goes a long way towards creating a look and feel that is customized without being intrusive.
  • Repeat engagement is dynamic, and the experience changes with the weather.

The Bad:

  • Alternative playlist selection is a rough edge on an otherwise smooth experience.
  • The available backgrounds are a bit… ugly.

The Future:

  • Custom integration within specific channels allows advertisers to cater their message to each user and create a small-scale experience that packs plenty of impact.

When Forever Began Shares A Moment For Diamonds

When Forever Began

Every year, the holiday season brings out diamond advertising in full force, and it’s usually a bland and boring mix of ‘surprise’ gifts and ‘forever’ taglines, but this year, De Beers actually created a rather unique and compelling ad campaign called When Forever Began.

Unbreakable Kiss Mistletoe Installation

The idea was to capture the moment when an unbreakable kiss signified the beginning of forever. To do this, De Beers set up an Unbreakable Kiss Mistletoe Installation in New York City’s Madison Square Park, and added a Matrix like set of cameras to capture the moment as a 360-degree film. The end result was a 3D picture of a single moment in time that could be viewed online or sent to friends and family through the When Forever Began website’s gallery.

Behind The Scenes

One of the best parts of the When Forever Began campaign was the Behind The Scenes video series. For everyone that didn’t have a chance to see the installation in person, this was the only window into what the campaign was really all about, so it was important for De Beers to get this right, and I’d say that they did.

Chapter 1 covered the Construction of the Unbreakable Kiss Mistletoe Installation, and it was a great mix of close-up interviews, long-shot backgrounds and city scenes, concept sketches, facts and figures (two 50 ft. towers, a 20 ft. platform, eight 2,500 lb cement blocks, 60 lbs. of mistletoe, 60 still cameras) and a preview of what the end result would look like:

Chapter 2 covered the Installation of the Unbreakable Kiss Mistletoe Installation, and it was done as a series of time-lapse shots of the setup process, broken up by a series of real-time shots that captured specific moments of the setup process matched to the background music. Though there was no narrative during the Installation video, it takes you through the process in an easy to follow manner, and highlights difficulties that they faced, such as the mixture of weather and technology:

Chapter 3 concluded the series, and covered the Reactions to the Unbreakable Kiss Mistletoe Installation. It consists of the stories behind each moment, and serves to highlight the variety of reasons that people had for taking part in the project, as well as the diversity of those that participated. From families to newly weds to about to weds; husbands kissing wives to men kissing men to women kissing women to friends kissing friends to two people that met five minutes before documenting their moment, it was an eclectic group of people with a gamut of reasons for taking part, but each served to highlight that there are a million reasons to celebrate the beginning of forever, and that each one is worthy of a moment:

The Gallery

In addition to the videos, the ‘Moments Gallery’ was an online collection of moments that participants decided to share with the world, and it gave everyone else a chance to peruse through the various moments and pick out ones that they wanted to see in more detail. This was also where participants could go to find their moment and watch it, edit it or share it with others.

Like the Behind The Scenes footage, the Moments Gallery served to highlight the different moments that participants chose to document, and covered the spectrum from a single person standing beneath the mistletoe to couples kissing to friends jumping for joy, again highlighting the fact that there are a million reasons to celebrate the beginning of forever, and that each deserves its own moment. The videos begin with the exact date and time that each moment was captured at, as well as the tagline intro, “Two Things Last Longer Than Time; Love Is One Of Them”, and begins with a circling of the perimeter, and then dives in for a close-up of the kiss. The resulting effect from the Matrix of cameras is fantastic, and you really get a feel for the scene as it pops out at you as a sort of pseudo-3D photo. Each detail is brought to life, including snow that seems to hang in the air, subtle lighting that puts a glow on each face, and the tenderness of the moment that is being captured.

The Gallery Of Moments

The Moments Gallery was created in Flash, so it’s a smooth interface that entices you to play around and explore, though bookmarking specific moments is all but impossible, and there is no real way to pick out specific moments that were better than the rest, since every moment was presented equally with no way to return to a specific place among the moments after selecting one to view.


Of course, being a diamond campaign, the site also included an area where you could ‘Create Your Moment’ by answering a few questions about how forever began for you, and then letting the site pick out the right diamond to help you plan the perfect moment, as well as a guide on how to buy diamonds, though they were located on secondary menus, and thankfully not heavily promoted during the experience. With a touchy/feely campaign like this, it’s important not to ruin the mood with an advertisey and/or salesy tone, and De Beers did well with avoiding that pitfall.

One thing that they missed out on though was a social media element to the campaign. There was no way to share the moments with others outside of email, and even the behind the scenes videos were exclusive to the site, with no copies available on YouTube or any of the other popular video portals. This is unfortunate, because the technology that they used was very unique, so it would probably have done well in the social media world, but it seems like they chose simplicity over share-ability, so their options were limited.

The Good:

  • Avoids cliché diamond advertising techniques, while still referencing the well-known slogan.
  • Focuses on moments outside of standard relationships, expanding the market and allowing nearly everyone to participate.
  • Great ‘Behind The Scenes’ videos are a central focus of the campaign.
  • Unique technology puts an interesting spin on the classic holiday photo.
  • Send To A Friend feature allows moments to be shared, increasing the exposure of the videos and the website.

The Bad:

  • No way to share the videos with others outside of email.
  • Flash website makes standard navigation techniques difficult.
  • Video exclusivity makes it difficult to discover the campaign outside of search or reference.
  • Print ads didn’t reference the campaign.

The Future:

  • Interactive photography lets each person create their own ad and brings the offline world online to encourage users to spread the message independently.

When Forever Began

Surf Report Puts Oakley In Surfers’ Hands

Oakley Surf Report

Surf Report is a new iPhone app from Oakley and Surfline that provides mobile access to surf reports, community news, photos, wallpapers, and Oakley Team Rider bios. With it, Oakley hopes to secure its place in the hands and minds of every tech savvy surfer on a daily basis, and to reinforce their brand as one that caters to the needs of extreme sports enthusiasts.

Take the mystery out of checking the surf with technology engineered to be on the go with you. Check swell direction. Monitor the weather. Chart a 2–day forecast. Get your daily mobile surf report for your favorite beaches – thousands worldwide. And do it all from the comfort of your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Surf Report does just about everything a surfer could want, including saving your favorite surf spots for up to the minute info before you start your surf commute (including air temp, water temp, tide charts, swell breakdown, wind, and sunrise/sunset when available), using GPS to locate nearby surf spots should you find yourself in unfamiliar territory, directing you to those surf spots using the Google Maps, showing current conditions for when Mother Nature wants to rain on your surf parade, continuously updating the forecast to help you time that precious few minutes between the storms, and even predicting the forecast a few days out to make sure nothing gets in the way of those killer waves.

Oakley Surf Report Detail

With a lightly branded button, splash screen, and Team Rider bios, Oakley has managed to create an attractive, functional, and useful tool without over-branding or over-selling. They know that by providing value to their user, Surf Report will get used, talked about, passed around and enjoyed. They also know that with surfers especially, an over-branded application would have gone unused or even cursed, so they were smart to partner with a trusted source like Surfline and let the app speak for itself.

The Good:

  • Light and appropriate branding doesn’t annoy the user, yet still reinforces the brand’s message.
  • Being useful, simple and full-featured means this application will be used frequently.
  • $0 price means a low barrier to entry, putting Surf Report in the hands of anyone that wants it.

The Bad:

  • Relies on a third-party for data, though users will blame Oakley if something goes wrong.

The Future:

  • Mobile applications allow a company to provide useful information to their customers, frequently reinforce their brand, and stay on the cutting edge of technology.

Oakley – Surf Report

Surf Report (iTunes)