Digital & Social Media

An Eye to Eye Phone Competition

An Eye to Eye Phone Competition

Moving From Stunt to 2.7 Million Views

How many staring contests have you won? Have you ever done one with a mobile phone? Samsung and Swisscom teamed up to challenge people to sustain eye contact with an S4 handset for a full hour. If you beat the phone, you get a free one. The Stare Down stunt, via Heimat, Berlin and Perfect Fools, Stockholm, is to promote the eye-tracking technology on the S4 handset.

The Stare Down kiosk comprises a single Samsung S4 placed at eye level and a clock. Start staring at the phone, and a percentage clock in the upper right hand corner of the kiosk begins to count up from zero. If you move your eyes away from the screen for one second, though, a buzzer sounds and the clock returns to zero. Reach the 100 percent and get the phone.

To make it more interesting, the longer a participant stands and stares, the more distractions start popping up. Police hold back a barking German shepherd, lost tourists ask for directions, and a one-man band roams in circles playing loud music. If the person competing withstands the first wave of interruptions, the distractions ramp up — for instance, a motorcycle crashes into a flower stand.

Participants unable to complete the hourlong staring contest don’t walk away empty-handed: the longer you look at the S4, the bigger the discount you get against a new phone.

The video showing people trying to complete the challenge has attracted nearly 2.7 million views on YouTube over the past week. The Stare Down kiosk is planning on a tour of Switzerland, starting in Zurich and visiting Lucerne, Bern and Lausanne.

Contagious, Childs Weigh In

Contagious: This is an entertaining way for Samsung to show off the S4’s eye-tracking technology. It extends beyond a mere product demo, with the video already amassing 2.7 million views in less than a week.

Samsung and Swisscom also do a great job of tying the demonstration to an actual benefit for people who take part: Even failure to finish this challenge results in a good feeling when potential customers are given coupons toward a new phone.

The staging of the event also deserves some recognition. The first stunt took place on 16 May in Zurich, and the YouTube video was posted on 24 May. The kiosk’s last three installations weren’t until 28-30 May, meaning people had plenty of time to see the video online and seek out the S4 booth. Unlike many similar stunts, The S4 Stare Down wasn’t a one-off prank that reached only a handful of people and was actually more interested in attracting attention online. Instead, it was designed to attract both.

Nick Childs: Full disclosure upfront: Samsung is a client. Which could potentially make any commentary here risky – too nice and we look like sycophants; too edgy and, well, it could set up a different kind of headache. But I’m not concerned because, to put it plainly, I’m just going to say I’m jealous that we didn’t come up with this  “stunt.”

Very reminiscent of a contest that spurred the documentary (and even Broadway show), Hands On A Hard Body, the promotion was a smart way to capture a live audience’s attention and engage the viewers with a unique feature of the newly launched S4 smartphone. The event created content that could be shared with millions globally, while generating buzz for when the show would be taken on the road to, quite literally, gather more eyeballs.

At some point, the ask may have been for a simple product demo. But by creating an hourlong test of wills based on a staring contest, Samsung and their agencies made a rich and involving game, story and “spreadable” experience. And they did so by highlighting the unique feature in a way that suggests how Samsung aspires to make tech that involves and engages, enough in fact to make people stop and stare.


About the author

This article was syndicated from Contagious Feed, an indispensable resource to the marketing communications industry focusing on competitive intelligence, best practices, new technology and consumer behavior. In addition to the flagship quarterly publication, app and Feed, Contagious has developed a consultancy and a series of world-class conferences, including its annual Most Contagious event.

Nick Childs is the executive creative director for FleishmanHillard, working out of the New York office. He has been with the company since 2011 after a career in advertising that included Grey and other high-profile agencies.