It's a Cinderella story for the digital age.
In an unusual bet that digital can enhance any idea, Google Argentina scouted local festivals for losing entries and then helped transform one of them into a Gold Lion winner at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Advertising last month. The goal was to sell creatives, who tend to be very focused on traditional media like film, on the potential of digital technology by using creatives' own criteria for success: ad festivals.
"We started looking at creative campaigns from the second half of 2012 done in traditional media for a local advertiser that were finalists but didn't win," said Eugenia Denari, country marketing manager for Google Argentina. "We selected a couple campaigns."
For the experiment, Google worked with Buenos Aires innovation shop +Castro to set up Digital Studio. Sifting through shortlisted--but not winning--entries to local ad festivals, they spotted potential in a print campaign by independent shop Almacen for retailer Ribeiro. The campaign's theme "For the price of" showed how consumers could afford more expensive items if they took advantage of Ribeiro's installment plan for payments.
Google contacted the very surprised local agency with its offer of help and support, and worked with Almacen staffers at Google's office on digital opportunities and tools to develop a Cannes-worthy campaign. The final idea: 50 Buenos Aires taxis were equipped with screens connected to the taxi meter. As the fare mounted, the screen indicated products the passenger could buy at Ribeiro for the monthly payment shown on the meter. At the end of the journey, the passenger got a receipt he could take to Ribeiro and use to get the first installment free on a specific purchase. About ten products were featured.
"The original piece was more flat," Ms. Denari said. "The version we did together allowed us to have a two-way conversation with the consumer."
In a case study for the project, Google noted that more than 450 customers went to one of Ribeiro's five stores with their taxi receipt during the first two weeks of the campaign, and traffic to the retailer's website went up 9% in the first month. Anecdotally, the video noted that some passengers even prolonged their taxi rides to be eligible for a free installment on one of the more expensive products, like a TV.
Entered at Cannes, the campaign "Taxi" won a Gold Lion in the direct category, and a Bronze in outdoor.
Ms. Denari said Google started Digital Studio as an experiment in Argentina, the leading Spanish-language market in creativity, and might expand it to other Latin American countries.
"[In Argentina] we're now running other experiments with Almacen and other marketers, and look forward to entering other festivals," Ms. Denari said.
Besides posting the 10-minute documentary on YouTube and on Digital Studio's website, Google is looking at further developing Digital Studio as an idea booster for agencies.