It's surprising how many marketers still like to shake their technology-laden pom-poms, masking what turns out to be a feeble brand idea or identity. This year, we celebrate the best interactive work of 2012, which managed to leverage technology to make brands useful and meaningful players in consumers' lives, or to engage them more deeply with a brand's promise. Here, a look at Creativity's favorites from the year.
TBWARAAD's fridge magnet for Red Tomato Pizza did more than hold up your grocery lists -- it actually ordered your pizza for you. Given out to some of the company's most loyal customers, the magnet was preset with their favorite orders. A push of a button, and pie was delivered -- just the way the way they liked. We're betting more brands are going to follow suit with similar ideas. Evian already did: its "SmartDrop" magnet delivered bottles of water if you pushed a button. (See full credits here.) #9: Absolut "Unique"
Absolut made its customers feel like one in four million with its "Unique" packaging. The company teamed with agency Family Business to create that many one-of-a-kind bottles in its production plant in Sweden. For a brand that has always been known for its support of the arts, it was the perfect creative effort.
#8: Old Spice "Muscle Music"
Wieden + Kennedy, Portand
Old Spice must find it harder and harder to top itself creatively every year, but it managed to do so once again with this infectious campaign starring main man Terry Crews, created out of Wieden + Kennedy Portland and directed by MJZ's Tom Kuntz, with help from the Mill and Vimeo. It was Old Spice's first partnership with the latter, who provided a new vehicle for showing off Crews' ridiculous musculature: an embeddable, interactive video. Viewers are invited to interactive with Crews' pecs, delts and six-pack and make music in the process. They can share and embed their creations and unlike previous interactive videos before it, their friends will be able to play with Crews too. See full credits for the campaign here.
#7: 4E Gymnasium "Timeline History Lesson"
Amsterdam school 4e Gymnasium has a pretty hip way of teaching history -- through Facebook. This innovative educational method was one of our favorite ideas of the year because it was simple, and incredibly useful. Agency THEY got students to use Facebook's Timeline function to chart major historical topics.
#6: Google "Project Re:Brief"
Johannes Leonardo/Grow Interactive
The ever-innovative Google made even B2B advertising a thing to behold with the Cannes Grand Prix-winning Project Re:Brief, which re-imagined ads for modern day to show off the company's own tech in the process. The new effort, created out of Johannes Leonardo and Google Creative Lab, revisits old school favorite ads from Coca-Cola, Volvo, Alka-Seltzer and Avis and translates their messages for various digital formats.
For example, Coke's classic "Hilltop" ad featuring the familiar jingle "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing," and which already underwent a modern day makeover in 2005, becomes a display ad through which online viewers could send digital messages of good cheer--to someone in a city of their choice.
#5: Hellmann's "Recipe Receipt"
Mayo -- you either adore it or detest it. But the creamy product is for more than just dressing your blah turkey sandwiches -- and Hellmann's knows it. The brand, along with Ogilvy Brazil, thought up this fantastic way to encourage consumers to understand the possibilities of mayo. Cash registers in a supermarket chain were installed with a special software which recognized when customer's bought Hellmann's and clocked the other items they were buying as well. Recipes were then printed on the till receipt that combined several of the ingredients the customers were buying.
#4: Hospital for Sick Children: Pain Squad "Recipe Receipt"
Canada's Hospital for Sick Children pioneered an innovative way to change the way sick kids record their pain. Figuring out what kind of pain the patient is in is an important step in the treatment process. But after chemotherapy and radiation treatments, kids are too tired to keep a detailed pain journal. The Pain Squad mobile app by agency Cundari makes the process easy and kid-friendly. Kids were given iPhones with the app, which recruits kids into a 'pain squad,' a special force dedicated to hunting down pain. It lets the kids enter in what hurt, when, and which medications seemed to be working.
#3: Visit Sweden "Curators of Sweden"
VisitSweden, the Swedish Tourist Board turned its official Twitter account over to the general public in an experiment aimed at creating 'the world's most democratic Twitter account'. Each week a different Swedish citizen was chosen to take charge of the @Sweden Twitter account and use it to tweet about whatever they like. The project, Curators of Sweden, was conceived by agency Volontaire and was designed to give a diverse portrayal of the Swedish national character, the idea being that no single voice can represent it. Of course, the ultimate aim was to promote Sweden abroad and pique people's interest in the country. To this end, the people picked to take over the feed were a diverse mix. The first curator, 22-year old writer Jack Werner, spent the week introducing the world to Swedish Christmas traditions while cursing, posting outrageous pictures and refusing to have Justin Bieber perform in his country. The campaign won a Grand Prix in the Cyber category at Cannes 2012.
#2: Nike "Fuelband"
One of this year's best advertisers was most certainly Nike. The company's activity-tracking wristband, FuelBand, was one of the most progressive products of the year, and fit perfectly into its mantra of "everybody can be an athlete." The Cannes Grand Prix-winning device is one of the ways Nike changed the way consumers engage with the company -- creating every day interaction with digital products.
#1: Red Bull "Stratos"
One of this year's edgiest and boldest brand moves: Red Bull Stratos, the energy drink's historic mission to send Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner up to the edge of space, then get him to freefall from 120,000 feet. It wasn't just a marketing coup for Red Bull, but a real scientific achievement that proved that when it comes to marketing, Red Bull has managed to even capture the final frontier.