A Loyalty Program Gets Creative With an E-Book That Changes as You Travel

Smiles and FCB Brazil's E-Book Features Location-Dependent Tale

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Travel rewards programs don't exactly scream "creativity," but FCB Brazil stepped way out of the box to promote the Smiles loyalty platform. Previously affiliated solely with Gol airlines, it's now an independent business attached to a number of other global partners. The agency created Trip Book Smiles, a dedicated e-reader that contains a story with content that changes depending on where users read it.

The agency tapped one of the country's most popular authors, Marcelo Rubens Paiva, to pen the novel, about a 40-something couple, Theo and Maia Manoela, who ditch their run-of-the-mill lives to revisit the city where they honeymooned decades earlier. Here's the catch: The city could be Paris, Rome, Lisbon, Buenos Aires or New York, depending on where the reader is located.

According to Bruna Milet, head of marketing at Smiles S.A., the Trip Book is part of a larger program, "365 Days of Smiles," meant to get people thinking and talking about the company year-round. Since August 2014, the company has released a new promotion or branding effort every day. Previously, the campaign found a man who had worked at the airport all his life but never set foot on a plane and gave him his first flight. It also sent an immigrant Portuguese couple back home for the first time in 60 years.

The premise of the overall campaign keeps the company and agency extremely busy, said Ms. Milet. "At midnight, the new reason to smile should be on our site. We have a team working on it every night. It's very different from what we are used to seeing in loyalty -- it's very retail."

To create the Trip Book, FCB talked to a number of e-reader manufacturers about adding geolocation technology, and "a lot of them said it's impossible to make localization," said FCB VP-Creative Director Joanna Monteiro.

So the agency, which is known for other ground-breaking tech-driven ideas, including the 2014 Cannes Lions Mobile Grand Prix-winning Nivea sunblock campaign that turned a print ad into a wearable tech device that allowed parents to keep track of their kids, decided to build the technology itself. "The most difficult part was that geolocation interferes with the application that runs on an e-reader, so we designed a new electronic board that allowed the technology to work with e-paper," said FCB VP-Creative Director Max Geraldo.

The Trip Book, which may be updated with new stories in the future, is being distributed to 100 Smiles customers who have itineraries that will take them to the book's various locales. To also reach a broader base of fans, FCB created Trip Book apps for Android and iOS. The latter created another interesting obstacle. "Apple couldn't figure out a category to put it into in the App Store," said Mr. Geraldo.

"They couldn't understand why a book app would need geolocation," added Ms. Monteiro. "We explained the project, and they put it in travel."

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