Out of Home Series, Part 4: How to Make the Idea of Engagement vs. Awareness “Stick”

January 19, 2011


Before the holidays, I signed off by putting forth the idea that the Out-of-Home channel is one of great potential as a channel to engage consumers rather than simply make them aware (as has been the case with “traditional OOH”) of products/services. Building off of that focus on engagement – and the idea that technology has reached a point where anything can be enabled to be a “screen” – today I wanted share an example of how we've executed upon this idea.

For Chevy, our Dallas team has done a couple things using barcodes. At last year's SXSW, we placed QR codes on the not-yet-launched Chevy Cruze, as a way for attendees to learn more about the car. Each code was placed on the car in a location specific to the associated content (i.e. if someone was interested in the engine, they'd take a picture of the bar code on the hood of the car).

Later in the year, we took advantage of playoffs/World Series fever here in Dallas and created an “Antler Yourself” site where users could upload a photo and customize it with the antlers of their choice and then share it via social channels (note to non-sports fans, Texas Rangers fans have a thing about claws and antlers). As the Rangers continued in the playoffs, we extended it in a couple places, including through one of the vehicles available to us in the grassroots fleet. We identified a Rangers Super-Fan blogger and loaned him a vehicle so he could go around to all of the watch parties and have a chance to experience Chevy in the process. We knew a fair amount of content would be generated throughout this journey, so rather than simply advertise the website on the car (which is typically “standard fare” and does nothing more than create awareness), we utilized a technology called Stickybits to actually engage those who came into contact with this car.

Quick 101 on Stickybits – it's a bar code-scanning technology that allows people to attach “bits” of content to any barcode through scanning it on a mobile phone.  You just need the app and a barcode.  And for those items, like cars, that don't have bar codes on them, Stickybits provides bar codes that you can put on anything you want.

By attaching the Stickybit to the car, we essentially turned the car into a virtual scrapbook. People sent good luck messages to the Rangers, attached video and audio, and even tailgating photos.  In the end, there were 44 bits attached to the code, which means there were 44 different pieces of content that people contributed and could experience.

Technology is giving brands the opportunity to do much more in any channel than they've ever been able to do.  We're seeing this specifically in “Out of Home,” in large part due to the capabilities of mobile phones and all of the different apps that people have created.  We can now place a code on the side of a car and allow consumers to engage with the brand and each other.

So, while it may only be 44 pieces of content, and the content centered mostly around the Rangers vs. Chevrolet, it's still incredibly valuable to the Chevy brand.  They're bringing this experience to consumers, specifically fans of the Rangers around the most important time in the franchise's history, that is not only unique, but engaging.

The next time you're faced with doing something to create awareness, regardless of the “channel” you're going to use, ask yourself if there's a way you can turn it into an engagement?  Chances are, you can.