+Castro's Technological Pachamama Extravaganza for Tropicana

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Where most agencies will think of a promotion, +Castro goes with invention. The creative hot shop led by innovation director Nico Pimentel (who was most recently on our Creatives You Should Know list) created a brilliant point-of-sale installation that combined water and augmented reality, to launch the Tropicana Twister in Argentina.

Here's how it works: Customers in grocery stores see an installation where they place a fruit. Then, the installation tells you how much water there is in the fruit in one of two ways: either through a 'Rain 2.0' cascading water display that spells out the water percentage, or through a charming augmented-reality display where Mother Nature tells you how much water there is.

The project plays off of the drink's central idea: Mother Nature's wisdom has put different amounts of water in every fruit. Each Twister, depending on what fruit flavor it is, has a different mix of water and juice.

"We started our creative process trying to find a way the consumer could 'live' this product truth in a tangible way," said Mr. Pimentel. So the agency decided to take advantage of the grocery area in supermarkets and invited people to bring their fruit up to see how much water it has.

It's not out of character for the agency, which previously created a "vending machine" for Lay's potato chips that appeared to manufacture the snack before your eyes, when a real potato is dropped in a slot. For Nike Air Show, the agency thought up a way to make shoes float almost two inches off the ground--and then let players virtually race them against each other.

"We always put the production in the heart of the creative process," said Mr. Pimentel.

The first step was getting the machine to recognize the fruit. Developers created software that paired up with a kinetic camera to recognize volume, shape, size and color. Then, the camera would send out an output to custom machinery with water tanks and pipes. The machinery included a water bomb that pumped water in cycles.

An unusual team was assembled for the project: agriculture engineers and illumination directors got involved to provide input on the size of water drops and how the lights should be positioned so the "percentages" could be read in a supermarket.

For the augmented reality display, the software developers used elements from the accompanying television campaign, which had shots of Pachamama, or Mother Nature, for consumers to play with. The same sensor used in Rain 2.0 recognized people passing by and invited them to participate. Pachamama would then invite people to place their fruits on the pedestal and tell them how much water it had. An image of the bottle of the selected fruit flavor would finish up the presentation, along with music from campaign's accompanying television spots.

Valve Issues
While the camera sensors and recognition software were the biggest challenges, Argentine import laws also presented some problems. The valves needed for the water tanks and the pipes needed to be imported from China, but a change in the import-export regulations (in January, Argentina announced that pre-registration, review and approval was needed for anything imported into the country) meant that couldn't happen. Engineers had to adapt local valves into the system to make it work.

Water-based installations seem to be gaining steam. Last week, McCann Erickson NY created 'The Fountain of Electrolytenment," to launch Resource, a new Nestle spring water brand. The installation lets passersby ask the fountain questions, which it answered through scripted sheets of water. It was created in partnership with 'the father of fountain-scripting technology,' Steve Pevnick.

Of course, the Tropicana system isn't completely foolproof. Mr. Pimentel admits that if a tennis ball was painted the perfect shade of orange and was the same size and volume as the citrus fruit, the sensor would be fooled. After all, "the sensors can't recognize human intentions," he said.

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