PR stunts in a digital age

Posted: April 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

With social media, YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, Facebook and good old word of mouth, brand stunts have the opportunity to influence wider audiences than ever before. A ‘stunt’ in one place has the potential to amplify and reach thousands, it not millions, of people if it is good enough. These experiences give people an opportunity to interact with a brand and learn a little bit more about them.

Increasingly ‘stunts’ are becoming a more important way for brands to create buzz and generate cut-through in a saturated media environment. With lots of brands and people, pulling lots of stunts there is a threat of people becoming bored and unimpressed. (Once you’ve seen one flashmob big band, surprise wedding proposal on YouTube you’ve seen ’em all.) The best stunts catch your attention by being clever, shocking, funny, informative or just plain cool. They make you want to share them with your friends and create some space in your mind (and hopefully pocket) for the brand in question.

The stunts below are a selection of the weird and the wonderful that we’ve come across recently.

Press the Button (TNT TV Belgium)

TNT, a TV channel in Belgium set up a big red button in a small Belgian town with a sign that read ‘Push To Add Drama’ and waited for someone to push it. The second someone pushes the button chaos breaks out, a man on a stretcher falls out of an ambulance, another man fights paramedics, and an all out gun battle breaks out in a police chase.

TNT knows drama.

Ford Pinball Machine Paris

Rumour has it that Parisian drivers really don’t care about the cars around them and they’ll drive or park where ever and how ever they like… And sometimes… Sorry, most times, that means if they need to squeeze into a car space, they will, anyway they can, complete with bumps, scratches and dints on every corner of the car. They don’t care. Crazy right?!

So Ford Europe, created the Parisian Pinball Park Challenge. A digital installation that was created around a free parking space in Paris, the catch was, the space was small and the cars either side of the parking space were rigged up to the overhead pinball score board… The worse the driver, the more points they scored, with the winner being presented a brand new car complete with active park assist which conveniently parks the car perfectly!

Smart Car Pinball

Smart Car has been getting some huge buzz around their animated twitter ads from Argentina, but this highly innovative piece of digital convergence might just beat it. It’s called Smart eBall, but think of it as a Smart Car controlled “pong” gaming installation, created to showcase the responsiveness of the new, third generation, electric Smart Car.

Launched at the Frankfurt Motorshow, the installation uses multiple sensors to track the car’s exact position, ultimately controlling each players pong paddle on the giant digital screen in-front of them…

Lush Animal Testing Protest

 Some  stunts prefer to go to the extreme to gain attention. This week Lush on Regent St carried out animal testing using  young woman as a  lab rat. The subject in question was force-fed and given injections, her eyes streamed from irritant, her arm bled as she tried to resist needles. Carried out by performance artist Oliver Cronk and his subject Jacqueline Traide, they wanted to raise awareness of the cruelty of animal testing in the cosmetic industry. Lush want people to start thinking about what they buy and what processes have gone into bringing a product to market.

Opinion is divided on Lush’s recent stunt, especially given that Lush chose to run this campaign in a country where the testing of cosmetic products on animals is banned and which has the strictest animal welfare provisions regarding the use of animals for scientific purposes anywhere in the EU. But is certainly got people talking and opened up the area for further debate.

MIT Tetris Building

And finally, some people like to carry out stunts just because they can.

Hackers overrode the tallest building in Boston last week, turning the 21-story Green Building at MIT into a giant Tetris puzzle game controllable from a nearby joystick attached to a podium. They used 153 wirelessly controlled color-changing LED lights for the giant game on a building that hosts MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Science facilities.

The MIT-hosted Hack Gallery notes, “MIT hackers have long considered ‘Tetris on the Green Building’ to be the Holy Grail of hacks, as the side of the building is a wonderful grid for the game.” Players could control the prodigious puzzler with the ability to rotate, drop, and move blocks just like the real thing.


On the 1st of April every year, pranksters around the world take pleasure in fooling their innocent victims. Popular media outlets and companies have been known to get involved in the fun.  Following The Guardian’s famous 1977 prank, where they claimed to have discovered a new semicolon shaped island in the Indian Ocean, companies have continued the trend.

April Fools day offers the perfect opporunity to increase brand awareness, build brand salience and attract media coverage. It’s an ideal day for some quirky fun to attract attention in the hope that the prank spreads and word of mouth picks up.  The nature and popularity of social media certainly helps in doing so.

Here are somehighlights of 2012.

Virgin Volcanic

Sir Richard Branson launched Virgin Volcanic and accompanying website which sees Jules Verne’s Journey to the centre of the Earth become a reality.

Branson said: “I have a long held a fascination with volcanoes …I decided that one day I would go there too. Alongside our adventures with Virgin Galactic and Virgin Oceanic, volcanoes are the next great unexplored terrain. What can I say, I lava challenge!”

The spiral shaped probe designed to undertake the task, named WS1, will plunge into the molten core of an active volcano. Joining Branson on his maiden voyage are Tom Hanks, star of Joe Versus the Volcano; Black Eyed Peas artist; actor and producer  Seth Green; and award winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple. Members of the public are invited to join the back up team by using the #virginvolcanic hashtag.

Mini Countryman

Mini offered the chance to build your own Mini Countryman in a 29,762 part series.  In week one you recieve a single screw- leaving only 29,671 more parts to collect. The newspaper ad is complete with an order form to register interest via post.

Lynx App

Lynx launched a campaign for their app that lets you spray yourself with your phone. You simply choose the fragrance you want using the app and spray it on directly from the phone.

A makeover for Google Maps

Google has a history of succesful pranks and this year they announced their new 8-bit version of Google Maps that temporarily replaced the standard version.

In tribute to Dragon Quest, even world monuments and icons have been given the pixel makeover. Look out for Buckingham palace, complete with rows of guards in red uniform and tall beaver hats, Big Ben and Nelsons Column.

The prank has proved so popular that fans have asked Google to make the change permanent. What a great response for Google!

Enjoy your weekend,

Happy Friday!

In previous Friday Emails we’ve talked about augmented reality, facial recognition and a variety of other technologies that can enhance advertising and retail. Whenever we talk about these kinds of gadgets, we can’t help but think of Minority Report but just how far away are we from seeing Spielberg’s dark vision of 2054 become a reality? We decided to compare some of the blockbuster’s most iconic technology to some of today’s latest and greatest pieces of tech unveiled at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show. If you want to know a bit more with regards to what CES is all about, check out this infographic.

Multi-Touch Displays:

Tom Cruise flicking screens images across screens without touching anything is surely one of the most iconic moments in Minority Report.

The iPhone put this power into anyone’s hands, allowing just about everybody with fingers to flick images about a screen just like Tom. If the iPhone seems a little low-tech compared to the screens from the blockbuster, a group of MIT students managed to recreate the screen’s palm and finger detecting capabilities using a Kinect gaming peripheral back in 2010, check out the video – even Spielberg would be impressed!

With the new line of TV’s LG unveiled at this year’s CES, soon we’ll all be using gesture control for pedestrian tasks like turning up the TV.

Augmented Reality:
Again, mobile devices and their apps have put this power into the hands of the masses (as anyone with a smartphone who visited a Starbucks last Christmas would know).

Soon, we’ll be able to enjoy this technology (as it helps keep us safer) in our cars. Pioneer exhibited their new augmented reality Head’s Up Display at CES – a system that will soon be used to simplify navigation and keep us all safer on the roads.

Retina Scanners:

A sci-fi staple, used for opening doors, starting cars and identifying individuals.

Although it may be some time yet before we can all open our front doors with a wink and a smile, the military are currently using hand-held retina scanners to create digital signatures of terrorism suspects as unique as fingerprints that can quickly and easily be accessed and checked across databases.

Having said that, eye-tracking technology  can now be implemented in simple gaming, it won’t be long till we’re typing and moving mouse pointers with nothing more than our eyes.

Intelligent Billboards:
Used in another stand-out scene from the thriller, Cruise walks through a shopping mall and is hounded by intelligent billboards enquiring whether he’s satisfied with a recent purchase of some tank-tops or if he wants to buy an umbrella.

We’ve already talked about the Japanese intelligent vending machines in a previous Friday Email. These machines can suggest products based upon users’ age and sex as well as the time of day and even the temperature.

Finally, one of the most astounding and futuristic products to be shown at this year’s CES was Samsung’s Smart Window. It’s a window, a web browser, a TV, a recipe book, all rolled into one, you can even tweet from it – whilst this may not sound all that impressive, it has incredible potential when combined with some other emerging technologies.

Picture this: You’re walking down the street and stop to look in a shop window, you spot a t-shirt you like. Without your knowledge, eye-mapping software detects where your retinas are pointed and sends a signal to a body-scanning  camera. Suddenly what you thought was just a piece of glass displays an augmented reality image of yourself wearing that same snazzy t-shirt so you can see exactly how it fits. A few taps and pokes of the wonder-glass later and your t-shirt will be waiting for you when you get home. Window shopping redefined.

Who knows what you’ll be reading the Friday Email on by next year’s CES or what we’ll be writing it on – probably a slab of intelligent concrete or a smart cereal box. It feels like we’re catching up to 2054 faster than Cruise himself could run.

All the best for the weekend,

Happy Friday

Friday Email 2.12.11

Posted: December 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

This week we decided to take a look at Augmented Reality. Augmented Reality (AR) has been around for a couple of years now, but lately we’ve been noticing some really fun and interesting AR applications. This technology has moved on from being the latest fad and companies are really starting to understand and use AR in effective ways to enhance customer experience.

So what exactly is it? Augmented reality is an extension of virtual reality, where the user interacts with something that goes beyond physical reality. Basically, AR is ‘Terminator Vision’; it takes an existing picture and blends new information into it. For example, AR can integrate digital information with live video or the user’s environment in real time.

Recently Starbucks, Nivea and Lucozade and Lynx have launched engaging and exciting campaigns using AR.


Starbucks have used this technology to create a simple, fun animation that literally lets customers bring their cups to life. As demonstrated in the video, the app works by pointing your phone’s camera at the company’s red holiday season coffee cups and 47 additional objects, such as bags of coffee, on display at Starbucks retail locations.
The app also includes traditional and social sharing capabilities. Among other things, you can send ecards as well as holiday offers from Starbucks.


Lucozade hope to increase their ‘cool factor’ and be seen as innovators by creating a brand experience based on creativity and engagement.
They recently collaborated with several British musicians, including Plan B and Tiny Tempah, to create an interactive brand experience using AR. The company asked seven of the UK’s biggest musician to design a Lucozade bottle which when viewed through an iPhone app leaps to life with videos and animations. The app gave consumers access to a great deal of exclusive information that was created especially for the campaign. The musicians will then promote the campaign to their massive social media followings via Twitter.


Keeping with the theme of musicians and AR, Nivea have created an app which brings Rihanna into your bedroom (fulfilling boys’ dreams throughout the country). The app which went live this week causes a tiny version of Rihanna to emerge from the cap of a jar of Nivea Creme to sing her song ‘California King Bed’. All consumers have to do is hold a jar up to a computer’s webcam and Rihanna appears.
This is the second AR campaign from Nivea, whose aim is to ‘create engaging digital advertising experiences.’


Bringing stars to life seems to be becoming a trend with AR apps. Not ones to be outdone, Lynx sent scores of their beautiful fallen angels to delight commuters in London’s Victoria Station earlier this year. By standing on a particular spot in the busy station these ‘angels’ came to life beside people on a large screen. The angels even interacted with each individual in real time, reacting to each person’s behaviour. The experience went down a treat with commuters, some of whom even attempted to propose to these celestial animations.

The AR experience supported the Lynx campaign running at the time, it worked with the Lynx brand and really captured the imagination of commuters.

So what are the next big innovations for AR in the future?

Researchers in the University of Washington have built a contact lens that can display images. At the moment the lens only displays a single, well-focused pixel but it is the first step toward building lenses that ‘may receive data from external platforms, such as mobile phones, and provide real-time notification of important events.’ The lenses have only been tested on rabbits in lab environments so it may be a while yet before we see them in our local Specsavers. But it appears that terminator vision may very well be on it’s way.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Happy Friday!

This week the world’s population hit 7 billion. So we decided to take a look at what this actually means for us all moving into the future. We trawled the web to find what innovations will change the way we work and live every day.

 7 billion

7 billion, a truly massive number illustrated beautifully by the National Geographic with a series of video they released to mark the event.  They even produced a handy iPad app too!

It’s full of some pretty mind blowing stats and facts that really highlight what this milestone means for the future.

Did you know?

  • It would take you 200 years to count to 7 billion.
  • The world’s most typical person is a 28 year old han Chinese man.
  • Today, there are 21 mega cities.

After being pretty overwhelmed by National Geographic’s observations, we whipped out our crystal balls to see what the world of the future might look like. We also looked to Microsoft, MIT and others to see what they have to say on the matter.

Microsoft’s Vision of the Future

Conveniently enough, Microsoft recently released a video of their vision of the future; a future where everything is lushly luxurious, gleamingly clean, digitally magical and scarily devoid of any kind of imperfection. When taken with a pinch of salt, what this video predicts for the future of technology is really quite exciting. What is even more exciting is how much of this technology is already developed.

Some of our personal favourites here at Elvis include;

  • Smart fridges which not only tell you what’s inside but also suggests recipes.
  • Interactive paper which comes alive when connected to a smart phone.
  • Minority Report style motion activated desktops.

Microsoft have done a really great job of highlighting how technology will continue to directly affect human life, be it in business or in the home.

OmniTouch and SixthSense
Two of the most interesting innovations in the past couple of years has to be Microsoft’s OmniTouch and Pranav Mistry’s Sixth Sense. The smart people at Carnegie Mellon University teamed up with Kinect researchers from Microsoft to make a device called OmniTouch. Although still at the prototype stages, this shoulder mounted device can turn any nearby surface into an ad hoc interactive touch screen.

Now for the technical stuff, so bear with me. OmniTouch works by bringing together a miniature projector and an infrared depth camera, similar to the kind used in Microsoft’s Kinect game console, to create a shoulder-worn system designed to interface with mobile devices such as smart phones. Instead of relying on screens, buttons, or keys, the system monitors the user’s environment for any available surfaces and projects an interactive display onto one or more of them.

Of course the guys at MIT Media Lab are pretty smart too and not one’s to be out done, back in 2009 they caused a storm at TED when they demoed a similar device called the ‘Sixth Sense’. Pranav Mistry and Pattie Maes developed a wearable device that paves the way for profound interaction with our environment.


All of this tech talk is great but if we have 7billion people and 21 mega cities crowding this earth we are going to need more than the ability to dial our phones on the palms of our hands. This is where Danish architect Bjarke Ingels comes in. His theory of ‘hedonistic sustainability’ tries to answer the question of overpopulation in urban areas through the creation of socially, economically and environmentally perfect places.

His work includes 8 House in Ørestad, a high-rise designed in the shape of the Chinese character for ‘people’ for Shanghai, and a master plan for the redevelopment of a former naval base and oil industry wasteland into a zero-emission resort and entertainment city off the coast of Baku, Azerbaijan, shaped as the seven mountains of the country.

All of this may seem a bit farfetched and futuristic for a Friday evening. We may not be living in high intensity, completely interactive and connected communities any times very soon. But it could very well be an indication of the direction in which we are heading.

I’ll leave you with this last short video. The toddler in the video is more accustomed to using an iPad than she is to using magazines and books. In her eyes a magazine is simple a broken iPad.

Happy Friday. Have a great weekend!

Creativity and technology

Posted: October 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

This week I wanted to honour Steve Jobs and talk about technology and creativity. His thinking managed to change the way the world thought about technology and encouraged people to love what they do and be more creative in their daily lives. One of the biggest outputs of this was the development of apps, apps that we’re functional, playful, factual, education… “There’s a App for that”.
This week were going to look at how app technology has developed and has been so ingrained in people that it’s almost the joy of apps that makes people want to purchase an iphone or ipad as well as the joy of using. Not only that but it’s the public, developing apps based on a personal need that consequently is a shared need.

 Scandinavian Airlines – The time killer

This little time wasting app is slightly clever as isn’t actually targeted towards its audience but more its competitors. The whole idea here is to poke fun at their competitor airline customers suggesting to customers that they’ll need this app as their flight will most likely be delayed and they’ll need something to kill the time.

Lego Meets Augmented reality app

This is a new avenue that Lego are exploring to rebrand themselves and introduce themselves into the innovative world of gaming. What’s so charming about this app is that it’s all about simplicity, accessible to all age groups.




Snapette – Fashion app

One for the fashionista’s, Snapette helps users browse shoes and bags or post photos of ones that they like, sharing trends. They have also partnered with different boutiques and provides exclusive collections from these stores to explore, along with top brands and bloggers.

Lynx Auto Flirting App
Another little cheeky app from LYNX which allows you to flirt with multiple women at once. All you need to do is create a flirt list then answer a few questions about them and then program in how much of a flirt you want to be. A fun social app developed to allow you not not waste the potential that LYNX gives you.

Piggie – consumer app
This is a great consumer app which allows you to keep track of where you’re spending all your hard earned pennies

National Geographic app
I’ve included this final one because out of all the ones I’ve personally encountered so far, it’s my favourite. Not only does it have beautiful images of the planet but it also have a lovely interface where the customer is invited to swipe and explore all these different corners of the world

Social Media Boom

Posted: September 16, 2011 in Digital, Social Media, Trends, Uncategorized

What a year we’re having in the world of social media, after reaching 500 million users in July last year Facebook now has over 750 million active users (1 in 13 people on earth!), its own currency (Facebook credits) , website content available in over 70 languages and an Academy Award nominated film about the creation which to date has grossed $224,920,315.  Not bad for a 27 year old computer programmer from New York!

Twitter is also hot on the heels with over 175 million users and a recent record breaking twitter  flurry which saw 8,868 tweets sent per second, after Beyoncé Knowles showed off her bump during a performance at the MTV Music Video Awards.

So this week I thought we’d look at the demographics of Facebook and Twitter and a few interesting facts.

To give you a bit of an idea of the scale of social media check out this short video

The graphs below give some insight into Facebook and Twitter users, showing that nearly half of all Facebook users login everyday whereas just over a quarter login to Twitter on a daily basis.

It’s also interesting to note that 67% of people on Twitter follow a brand (that they will purchase) in comparison to only 51% on Facebook, yet on Facebook 40% of all people follow a brand in comparison to Twitter’s 25%.

To wow you even more this Friday, we’ve pulled together some interesting Facebook facts and figures for you to mull over:

•The average user has 130 friends.

•People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.

•There are over 900 million objects that people interact with (pages, groups, events and community pages).

•About 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States.

•People on Facebook install 20 million applications every day.

•There are more than 250 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices, and people that use Facebook on their mobile devices are twice as active on Facebook than non-mobile users.

28% of people check Facebook on their Smartphone’s before getting out of bed.

•The 35+ demographic now represents more than the entire database.

•The 18-24 demographic grew the fastest (74%) in one year.

Liking ‘Drugs’ is up 1131% this year.

•Facebook was the most searched term for the second year running, accounting for 2.11% of searches in the USA.

57% of users talk to people more online than they do in real life.

48% of young Americans said they find out about news through Facebook.

•A record breaking 750 million photos were uploaded onto Facebook over New Year’s weekend.

In 20 minutes on Facebook:

Some pretty staggering facts I’m sure you’ll agree!

Happy Friday!