Looking Eastward to Digital in Real Life

January 23rd, 2012

Although the QR code has been around a while and was one of the first techniques that enabled traditional media to become a gateway to rich digital experiences, Patrick Rona, new president and chief digital officer of Tribal DDB Asia-Pacific, says 2011 saw an explosion of new ways that lets people flip between digital and ‘real’ media. This article was first published in CampaignAsia where we regularly contribute content.

Take Hyundai. The car giant is allowing visitors to Times Square in New York a chance to compete in time trial races against each other using their iPhones. Users simply have to download the app, register with Hyundai Race, and then wait their turn to test out their driving skills while all of Times Square looks on (no pressure). A leader board then ranks participants against other drivers. While not the most visually stunning execution, the level of user interaction more than makes up for it. Watch the video here.

And then there’s Greek chocolate brand Lacta, which has applied real imagination to the consumer journey. The brand already has a long tradition of TV commercials in which lovers use the chocolate bar itself to send a romantic message. But with this new mobile app, Greeks can now turn their emotional verse into an animation. Using the app, people write personalised messages onto chocolate bars and then send them to their facebook friends. The messages are only revealed when a friend scans a bar of Lacta themselves. This means that not only does your friend think of love when they see Lacta, but they also have to actually buy a chocolate bar to see the message. Check out the video here.

I think this trend will continue in 2012 as agencies and advertisers not only create great brand experiences, but also increasingly close the loop to drive direct sales. As smartphones continue to become more sophisticated and ubiquitous, people can – and will increasingly – flip between media, and mobile devices specifically, as the portal to these new experiences.

TV commercials, print ads and outdoor billboards are already gateways to rich content, detailed product information, physical promotions and even direct sales. The technology is there. The only things preventing it from going mainstream are our imaginations and new ways of working that will consistently enable great creative ideas to intermingle with innovative – yet easy to use – technology.

As an industry – and I mean both clients and agencies – we need the imagination to always think about complete consumer journeys and all the opportunities we have to enable fantastic experiences that build true brand value and close the loop from awareness to sales. We also need to break down the walls in our processes between various areas of expertise. On both client and agency side, we need to surround our clients’ challenges with a range of experts – brand and media planners, strategists, designers, film makers, bloggers, community managers, creative technologists, data experts and PR experts.

We also need to sit up and take notice of digital in the retail environment. Apple and Nokia are blazing the trail (check out Apple’s apple store app), in the West, but everyone from consumer bank branches to supermarkets will be (or should be) thinking about how to enhance the consumer’s experience in physical retail environments.

As a student of history, and an American, it’s been programmed in me from my earliest school years that future opportunities – and riches – lie in the West. As you all know – and I’m quickly learning – how wrong we are. I’ve only been here a handful of days but I already see extraordinary things happening across the region. Things that most in the West are only starting to think about. Companies around the Asia-Pacific region like Toyota, Telstra, StarHub and McDonald’s are doing new and innovative things every day.

Take VW’s new augmented reality experience. Created by Tribal DDB Singapore, users can interact with a print ad using their iOS devices, which lets them discover more about the whole range of Volkswagen models, explore model features in detail and even take their favourite car for a test drive.

So the good news is that here in the East, we know we can do it. We just have to do it more often. I can’t wait.



  • Caroline Costigan says:

    Thanks a lot for this article!
    It’s very very interesting to discover new things!
    Caroline Costigan