Digital & Social Media

Helly Hansen Makes Tracks

Helly Hansen Makes Tracks

Campaign: Outdoor clothing manufacturer Helly Hansen has created a weather-dependent alarm-clock app that wakes skiers early if it has snowed overnight. The First Tracks app, created by Swedish agency Forsman & Bodenfors, is designed to help enthusiasts make the most of fresh powder before anyone else can ski the piste.

The app works like this: A skier enters two possible wake-up times into the smartphone alarm—a standard time and an earlier time. The phone tracks the weather conditions throughout the night and, if there is a dump of fresh snow, the alarm sounds at the earlier time. This gives users a head start on the day and a chance to explore the virgin snow while other skiers slumber.

The brand is also encouraging skiers to upload their First Tracks to Instagram, using the hashtag #HHFirstTracks. Each week the best photos receive Helly Hansen gear.

Contagious, FleishmanHillard’s Wechsler Weigh In

Contagious: We’re increasingly seeing brands start to experiment with services and smart utilities that are more contextually relevant to people’s lives. First Tracks is a perfect example: The app takes into account the user’s location and intent, and analyzes real-time data to provide a more useful service based on the conditions that particular person will confront at that particular resort. For skiing enthusiasts, it’s a valuable tool that can help them make the most of their day—either by hitting the slopes early, or by giving them a few extra hours in bed if it hasn’t snowed.

We have, though, seen some very similar campaigns. Nivea created a Sun Alarm last year, and Belgian agency Boondoggle helped drivers in snowy countries with its Winter Wake-up app. But Helly Hansen has shown how a very similar idea can be successfully adapted for a different brand in a different market.

There’s no doubt a halo effect at work here too: If Helly Hansen understands the wider customer journey of skiers enough to realize that a snow-related alarm clock is useful to them, then it surely must have met all skiers’ needs in terms of clothing.

Pat Wechsler: Helly Hansen nailed it with this app. Sure, we have seen some similar tools, and we will no doubt see more. One reason: It’s good for brands to look for ways to be seen by customers as useful and in their heads.

When you’re off on a ski vacation, you live for fresh powder, and here Helly Hansen is basically saying, “Go ahead and sleep. We’ll wake you if more than a few flakes fall.” Helly Hansen is serving as the most helpful resort concierge in the world, anticipating your most pressing need. As Contagious points out in its halo–effect comment, it’s a short jump to then conclude that the company’s clothes won’t fail you either.

Here is where imitation is the sincerest form of flattery—and to be encouraged. When an app is actually useful, no one should quibble that the basic conceit behind it isn’t new. In essence, apps like this one allow anyone to convert any technology into smart technology.

Apps to anticipate traffic; check out when movies are sold out or restaurants are booked; apps that alert you when there’s an airfare deal to your favorite destination or a sale on your favorite wine or if a store is out of a certain product—even if tools already exist, there’s no reason why a brand with a connection to a product, service or activity can’t consider providing an app, with a twist on what’s already out there to help customers, as Helly Hansen did. Maybe apps are the new content.


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.

Pat Wechsler is the editor of FleishmanHillard True, bringing 25 years’ experience as a writer and editor at media companies such as Business Week, Bloomberg News, Crain’s New York Business, New York Magazine and Newsday.