Cool for Useful’s Sake

It’s Monday of my second week on the job — and let me tell you — I LOVE IT.

Love, love, love it.

BSSP is an amazing (and so much fun) environment to learn and grow in, and from day one I was so confident that I’d chosen the right career path.

Oh, and remember how I told you I’m living on a boat? Well, it’s a pretty sweet setup; despite the fact that for the first time this weekend, we fell asleep knowing we were on a boat. It was a bit like if someone was gently rocking you to sleep, if said rocking was the slightest bit terrifying.

My roommates are great, and we’ve gotten to do some pretty cool stuff (like the Chipotle Cultive Festival and wandering around Haight Ashbury). We might be bums during the week, but I intend to make the absolute most out of every weekend we’re here.

Spent time in the Bay Area? I’m open to any and all recommendations!

Anyways, my job (planning) involves lots of reading. From Adweek and PSFK to Trendspotting and the most obscure of blogs. What’s great is that, in essence, it’s a lot like what I do for this blog and for AWSC. Only more intensive.

It’s awesome to see all of the cool executions that come out of markets other than the US. Last week, I found two that really stood out.

So many cool things come out of Brazil (like this clever use of Vine from @heinekenbr or this ad for Peugeot).

This is just the latest:

Award fodder or not, the execution is pretty amazing. Sure, it’s tangentially related to the product (Nivea’s new sun protection line); but still, the idea of an ad that harnesses the power of the sun to charge your phone? That’s insane. Difficult to execute, but extremely well-done.

And who wouldn’t want that surprise in their beach read? I certainly would. How useful! And memorable.

The second execution that stood out to me comes out of Paris, where Scrabble (no, not Words With Friends, we’re talking the classic) took it upon itself to provide Wi-Fi to the masses — so long as they were able to spell.

In places where there wasn’t any WiFi, Scrabble armed vans with a portable Wi-Fi connections and then challenged people to join the ‘Scrabble Wi-Fi Network’ to win their free minutes by turning Scrabble words into passwords.

What I love about both of these is probably something I’ve said before. They weren’t just ‘cool for cool’s sake’ — they actually had a purpose, and a useful one at that. By doing so, both brands gave consumers something tangible to remember them by (and likely laid the groundwork for awards season, too).


Air France Hits the Skies in a Whole New Way

Let me preface this post by sharing this gem of a live recording of one of my favorite songs, because the topic hereafter brought it to mind:

Are you playing it? It’s pretty awesome, huh? Anyways, with Lucy as a soundtrack, let’s talk about Air France. They just launched an app with Paris-based agency BETC Worldwide which turns your phone into “song-seeking radar.”

This is interactive at its best. Just point your phone to the sky – where handpicked tunes have been scattered across the globe. Aim at a song to unlock it and add it to a playlist; the songs change in every country, so if you’re a globetrotter, you can build up quite a nice collection.

The airline has had its own music service since 2010, allowing passengers to create custom playlists of new and unreleased (admittedly, Indie-leaning) songs. With artists like M83, Cults, and The Roots scattered across the sky, the trend continues.

As an added perk, there’s even a hidden game component. Play the game and win prizes…as long as you catch it first!


This is one of the best applications of digital I’ve seen. If you read my blog, you know I love Heineken, and this follows suit. The interactive nature of the app, along with killer music partnerships, is a treat for consumers and drives serious (and valuable) engagement with the brand.

Heineken is my favorite brand. Here’s why:

I’ve said it before. Heineken is one of, if not the, smartest brands around. They use every possible medium, and they do it in a fun, memorable way. Sure, it’s my favorite beer too, but I don’t think that clouds my judgment in this case.

A while back, I talked about a few of their most innovative activations. And now they’re at it again; this time, with a theatric ad that leads to an online game called Crack the Case. The premise is basically this: James Bond doesn’t always drink beer, but when he does it’s a Heineken.

The campaign, produced by Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam, features an intriguing male lead (not to mention a spot appearance by Bond himself), a track in Gin Wigmore’s “Man Like That” that matches the energy, drives the story, and complements the idea, and a great tagline in “Open Your World.”

Not only have they hit the spot itself on the head, but the branded game, “Crack the Case,” which promises to be played live in a city near you, provides yet another unique example of Heineken innovating in the social and digital space.


Innovation is Anything but Business as Usual

Brands who remain stuck in their ways, relying on tradition and loyalty, can hope against hope that their name alone carries them through, that their competitors are just flies on the wall. But truly, it is the brands that innovate, and innovate constantly, that have staying power.

The essence of innovation may lie in R&D, but when it comes to marketing – advertising, branding, activation, etc. – innovation is equally as vital. In an increasingly digital world that is more connected than ever before, it is the intersection of innovation with brand activation and advertising that allows for consumer interaction in new, imaginative, and ultimately, beneficial ways.

Social media has the most potential to reshape the way advertisers connect with consumers. Trends like social gaming and social scheduling are at the forefront, with leading brands such as Heineken, Chevrolet, and Visa taking part.

Heineken is by far my favorite example of a brand doing it right. Across the world, Heineken finds ways to immerse itself in popular culture. Ingrained in international soccer, Heineken created the popular “Star Player” game, activating its partnership with UEFA and the World Cup in memorable fashion.

In Singapore, Heineken created a “Social Christmas Tree” – 48 LED screens towering eleven meters high – as a destination for consumers to send messages to friends and family. The tree exhibited one of Heineken’s core brand properties in an effort to unite people from across the world and truly bring social media to life.

Finally, they’ve embraced QR codes in a creative way – allowing Open’er Mustic Festival attendees to record personal messages (detailing who they were, where they were from, what their interests were). The messages were then embedded into a giant QR code sticker that was printed out and placed on their clothing, acting as a popular ice breaker amongst fellow festival-goers.

Heineken isn’t the only one to create viral ads and activations. One of my favorite work-related blogs, Brian Gainor’s Partnership Activation, compiles the best of the best. Two of my favorites take social to heart and create memorable, interactive campaigns that showcase their brand identity in innovative ways.

“Budweiser Scores with PoolBall Concept in Nightlife Settings” – Budweiser in partnership with Ogilvy Argentina:

“ Creates an Element of Surprise with a Mystery Fan Rewards Box”: