MarkLives.com – 24 July 2013
For many FMCG products, the best way to win customers is to let them experience the brand directly. To interact with it, taste it, touch it and hopefully to watch as people come away with an enjoyable, happy memory of the experience.
Brand activation in the form of in-store promotion—if done correctly—has been shown to work well in consumer research. So much so that these activations can even convert customers from entrenched or established brand allegiances. However creating activations is labour intensive – much more work than creating a commercial that is flighted for maximum reach and penetration, and is therefore more financially lucrative for the agency.
That said, real world experiential branding can have a limited reach, so it must be part of the broader marketing mix. It also works if brand activations are in themselves creative and clever, and can drive social media campaigns that broaden their reach and engagement.
One way to extend the reach of an activation exercise is to make the experience fun and memorable enough for the conversation to continue beyond the original event. In DouweEgberts’s recent activation, conceived and produced by Joe Public, the ‘zinger’ was the addition of technology that allowed users to interact with the brand in a fun way.
A coffee machine with DouweEgberts branding was placed at OR Tambo International Airport. But there was no coin-slot: all the tired travellers had to do was what comes naturally after a long and exhausting flight: yawn.
Facial recognition software would then trigger the mechanism, and the free coffee would be dispensed. The cups were custom branded with the DouweEgberts logo and the slogan “Bye bye red eye.” The ‘red eye’ is the slang used to describe any flight that departs horribly early, or terribly late. The very phrase is derived from the condition one gets from taking these flights – you know the feeling, when your eyes get all red and sensitive.
“Our rationale behind this exciting activation idea for DouweEgberts is simple, yet highly effective,” says Joe Public’s Chief Creative Officer Pepe Marais. “Local and international travellers are often tired and jet-lagged. So why not offer them a free cup of great coffee at the airport?” he explains.
DouweEgberts is a company that traces its origins to a grocery store started in 1753 in the Netherlands, which makes it 250 years old. For centuries it has been trading in, and processing coffee, tea and tobacco. In 1978 it was taken over by Consolidated Foods, but after 35 years became an independent Dutch company again, trading under the name D.E Master Blenders 1753 NV – DE for short. Currently it produces a number of products, but most notable are its coffee (which has retained the DouweEgberts brand-name), and the Senseo coffee machine which—at least in Europe—has competed strongly with Nespresso.
In my mind DouweEgberts has always had something of an ‘oldeworlde’ image, but activations like this definitely modernise its image. Its website boasts of using sustainable coffee and tea in energy-efficient machines. Which is very 21st century and environmentally friendly and all that.
The facial recognition-powered coffee dispenser is a very smart experiential marketing exercise, as it allows the public to taste the product in a familiar environment, and in all likelihood talk about the experience for some time afterwards.
The ‘candid camera’ style video that was shot and posted on YouTube and the Facebook page is also fun to watch. It starts off with amusing shots of travellers dozing off in the departures lounge, and then progresses to people discovering the machine and trying to find out how to get it to work. Then there are great visuals of people’s surprised faces as they discover the trick to getting the free coffee – all in all a feelgood spinoff of the original, that allows Facebook followers to feel part of the program, even if they weren’t able to be directly involved.
Fun, funky, exciting, interactive: great ingredients for an uplifting brand activation.