Unilever Uses Faux-Flash Technology for Ads on iPhone

Axe Experiments With a 'Work-around' to Run Mobile Game Units

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- For all the cool things the iPhone can do, running Flash -- a platform that displays interactive graphics and animations -- isn't one of them. But Greystripe isn't waiting around for Apple and Adobe, Flash's maker, to work things out.

Axe's 'Dirty Night Determinator'
Axe's 'Dirty Night Determinator'
The mobile in-game ad network in November developed a work-around program that replicates the PC Flash experience on the iPhone. And data from the first full-scale campaign using the 3-month-old ad format -- a push for Unlilever's Axe brand -- show that a rich, multimedia user experience can make an impression.

Male grooming brand Axe wanted to be hip and speak to its audience of men 18 to 24 through unconventional channels. It was committed to adapting its existing and successful online web asset, "Dirty Night Determinator," a Flash-based gaming unit, to run on the iPhone. In December, it became the first advertiser to run a full-scale, Flash-simulating iPhone campaign, bringing its online ad to users of the Apple handset.

"Consistency in messaging is always a priority for any brand, and Axe is no different," said Shane Kent, brand manager, Axe Personal Wash.

Moreover, Mr. Kent said, "Axe ... likes to be the first to flirt with new technology." He said it's a sign that the brand is innovative, and it gives consumers "something unexpected, as opposed to a static ad that gets lost in the clutter."

Purchase intent up 15%
The result: Consumer intent to purchase the Axe Detailer, a shower product, rose 15%, to 74% from 59%, after consumers interacted with the game, according to a ComScore survey commissioned by Greystripe. The survey also found that 56% of respondents who interacted with the ad were more likely to purchase the product, vs. 35% who were exposed but did not interact with it. Among those who interacted with the ad, 64% said they felt more positive about the brand after the game experience, vs. 40% who had no interaction with the ad.

The "Dirty Night Determinator" promotes a shower product that's a sort of loofah for men. When users click through to the tongue-in-cheek, game-based ad unit, they can use a drop-down menu to determine how "dirty" their night was, and based on that, the game will identify areas on the body that need scrubbing and provide tips on how to clean.

Nearly 4,000 people took part in the effectiveness survey, with 943 falling into the control group, meaning they did not see the ad, and 2,447 in the group that did see the ad. Of the latter, 126 interacted with the game; the rest did not.

The campaign served a total of 3 million impressions, according to Greystripe.

Flash's challenges
As to when the Flash will become available for the iPhone, Adobe's chief recently told Bloomberg that the development efforts represent a "hard technical challenge."

Many aren't buying this explanation, however, speculating that the challenges aren't really technical in nature but have more to do with Apple's desire to exercise control over the iPhone's App Store development platform and protect its profit-sharing scheme with developers.

Flash presents a dilemma for Apple, as it has become a platform increasingly popular with developers. For the time being, a simulated Flash experience on the iPhone may be the only answer.

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