Post-Digital Era Brings Traits of Web to Real World

How Marketers Are Embracing the Shift

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NEW YORK ( -- Nicholas Negroponte declared the digital revolution over in 1998, but it took adland 12 more years to rework its basic creative, technological, philosophical and procedural assumptions.

Today, much of the marketing world has embraced the spirit of the digital age, and perhaps the strongest evidence is that it's doing a lot of work that's not so, well, "digital."

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The best companies have harnessed the digital mindset and taken the shareable, ongoing, interactive, participatory nature of digital and created brand experiences that matter to people where they ought to -- in their real, everyday lives. Take Nike Plus and Fiat Eco Drive -- arguably the most compelling brand ideas of the last decade. They may have had a digital heart but they manifested themselves in meaningful ways.

And a glance at some of the big award winners so far this season seems to reflect the shift to real-world experiences. The Grand Prize winner at the One Show Interactive was a digital idea that literally played out on the streets -- Nike Chalkbot from Wieden & Kennedy, a robot that imprinted messages of hope straight onto the course of the Tour de France -- as part of the ongoing Nike Livestrong campaign. At the Andys, the big winner was TBWA/Chiat/Day's Replay for Gatorade, an idea that started as a live event and online content venture and spilled over into broadcast.

"In a way what I think is happening is that online behavior is affecting most other areas of life at the moment," says Andreas Dahlqvist, executive creative director of DDB, Stockholm, the agency behind the real-world-leaning Fun Theory.

Powerful campaign
That campaign was an initiative to get people to change their lazy behaviors -- and ultimately, how they feel about driving environmentally friendly cars -- by allowing them to see the fun side of acting responsibly. Videos of "experiments," like the popular Piano Staircase or a trash can that delivered cartoon-style sound effects when it received a deposit, were seeded online through various channels and on The Fun Theory website. Part two was a contest that invited�others to submit their own Fun Theory ideas.

"There is huge potential in using digital to enhance 'real life' experience, and I think we are just seeing the beginning of that. It's adding a new layer of value, a fourth dimension," Mr. Dahlqvist said. "It's about making digital tangible."

Pepsi and TBWA/Chiat/Day's Refresh Project funds ideas that would make the real world a better place.� Rob Schwartz, chief creative officer,TBWA/Chiat/Day, L.A., said that with Refresh, the agency "didn't set out to create a 'digital idea.'�We set out to make our brand idea -- Refresh -- an action. ... It's a brand idea that lets you take action to do some good in your world, your neighborhood, your street. "�

For client Daffy's, New York agency Johannes Leonardo recently sent commuters on a subway scavenger hunt and put a Twitter tracker of a Daffy's truck on the retailer's site so shoppers could find out when the latest haul of discount goods were coming to their local store. It then turned a cinema ad for the brand into a live event, bringing performers from the spot to reenact their moves on the stage during a movie screening, the film of which ultimately became a shareable piece of online content for the brand.

"Most of our campaigns utilize digital media as an enabler medium, having both on and offline components, because the truth is most of our lives and emotions we share take place in the real world," says Johannes Leonardo Executive Creative Director Leo Premutico. "Digital media has created a new potential for brands because it presents the ability for its consumers to share information like never before. But a lot of the effect of that takes place where it always has, offline. The most powerful ideas for us are the ones that turn the people we're talking to into the medium for the message, rather than just the destination for it. So determining the sort of work that will do that is always more important to us than whether we should do a digital, outdoor or TV campaign."

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