If you uncork a bottle of apple cider, you expect the following: a sip of a tasty, sometimes tart but always refreshing beverage. You don’t expect a digital bottle cap that “triggers stuff”, as makers of Strongbow Gold’s “StartCap” tout on their web site.
And when you want to know how to make banana crème pie, don’t you still expect to dig up your mom’s dusty cookbook from the pantry? What if you could just pull your smartphone out of your pocketbook, tap, and voilà?
The maddening pace that is defining how RFID and NFC infiltrate how we receive and interact with advertising is truly dizzying.
Budapest won’t rest
London-based Work Club is a highly lauded digital marketing agency for good reason. Their work will blow you away – literally, if you’re not careful.
For, at a recent event at a bar in Budapest, Work Club promoted their RFID-enabled bottle cap by triggering a bevvy of surprises for unsuspecting customers, from starting a jukebox to setting off fountains. The final dramatic flourish?—What appears to be an RFID-enabled rocket ship over the city.
The agency calls this the “world’s first digital bottle cap,” but of course with the rate RFID is coursing through the ad industry, all of this could be yesterday’s news by the time you read this.
RFID in Retail
Mark Donovan, COO at New York City-based Thinaire, an NFC marketing engagement shop, says the future will be defined by how messages are received. The metamorphosis will be in how ads are received, for example through an NFC-enabled display that interacts with your smartphone.
“I believe that NFC is going to be used as a primary means to have a very intimate relationship with whatever [one is] engaging with,” Donovan says.
“We believe very strongly that the world of advertising will have a dramatic shift from impressions-based campaigns to engagement-based campaigns. It’s all about how we engage consumers with powerful computers in their hand,” Donovan says.
And if there’s an engagement?
“[Then there’s a] higher likelihood of actually selling them something,” he says simply.
No kidding. The results of a campaign with the Kraft “Shelftalk” ads at five grocery stores in the Bay Area resulted in an engagement level that was 12 times higher than that for using QR (or Quick Response) codes, which also appeared on the signs.
The Kraft promotion, in tandem with Newsamerica, put NFC-enabled signage at various points throughout the aisles at a San Francisco supermarket chain. Customers simply walked up to a display of say, cookies, tapped their phones and received recipes and useful information. Want to share with a friend? No problem—just tap your phone to hers.
Return on investment
Purportedly, more than 36 percent of the shoppers who tapped the NFC-enabled Kraft ads ended up acting, such as by saving a recipe, downloading the Kraft app and/or sharing it.
Thinaire has been responsible for a number of such successful engagement campaigns, employing Verizon cloud service NFC, such as at the Bon-Ton department store chain.
The east coast and Midwestern stores have enjoyed several engaging campaigns, such as having Thinaire turn shoe displays into an interactive experience. Customers engage with their mobile phones “upon tap”, as at the San Francisco stores. So when Mrs. Smith saunters up to a high heel display, she simply taps her smartphone against it and receives relevant sizing and pricing information.
Thinaire launched its first such interactive campaign for Bon-Ton at the store’s cosmetics section on Estée Lauder and Clinique campaigns.
Don Draper would be proud
Yet, even the most youthful and digitally savvy marketers know it all comes down to the lessons of Madison Avenue: the customer is always right, and one must grab his attention quickly in order to obtain his business.
Andy Sandoz, Work Club’s founder and creative director, shares that, “StartCap was first and foremost marketing. It works really well, but in controlled environments. Which is arguably the limit of RFID at the moment.”
So as fun as it is to watch a rocket blast up over a bar after I flip this bottle cap, it’s not about to go mainstream?
Sandoz says “that whilst the tech is smart and complex, it can be a challenge making it work in wet ‘environments’.”
“We didn’t just build tech that connected it all up; we also created a waterproof strip with the sensors inside that would sit over the cap itself,” he says. Indeed, the cap touts both a passive and active RFID tag.
As for other projects employing the technology, he says it’s been in their wheelhouse, even if the opportunity to hatch it are few and far between.
“We’ve done stuff with it. But all the buzz has been created by filming those examples to create sharable assets, and of course the story of a smart bottle cap itself. Marketing a message about starting your night drinking a Strongbow.”
Nevertheless, response from other brands has been excellent, he says. The Strongbow campaign really excited their competitors “who wanted to know how we did it and how scalable it was and could we do it for them. I’ve not seen such a clear response before to one of our ideas.”
In short, Sandoz says “it was a nicely timed idea that captured imaginations.”