Week two – Brand and Consumer Interactivity

13 Feb

Interactivity has such a vast meaning and can be transferred into many different understandings. As Kress &Van Leeuwen (2001) state –“there is no communication without interaction”. Interactivity could simply be stated:  two-way communication – allowing a flow of information between two people or user to machine – in the case of digital interactivity. Rafaeli (1988) mentions how interactivity is all about conversation, and therefore technology can replicate this ‘face-to-face’ conversation through using online measures, through the form of email, social media and many other form of digital communication.  In a way we could say that technology can replicate conversations, engagement between people and increase the interactivity with a brand/product with the consumer.

Looking at interactivity within the digital age, the opportunities have expanded vastly, allowing the advertising and marketing sector to use these tools and developments to produce very successful campaigns. For example even on blogs, allowing the reader to interact with the text by following a hyperlink, gives the opportunity for the reader to engage with the material.  If a brand produces an interactive campaign successfully the results can be extremely lucrative as well as creating a positive brand identity within the market place.

But what do we mean by interactive media exactly? A number of things initially come to mind:

–          Email

–          Chat rooms

–          Interactive TV

–          SMS

–          Smart phones

–          Viral marketing

–          Hyperlinks e.g.: within online articles

–          Social media platforms

–          Click through advertising

–          Video conferencing e.g.: Skype

–          Interactive video games

–          Blogs

–          File sharing eg: Napster (music) – Property exchange

…As technology develops so quickly, the list could go on for miles…

The main factor here is how media can be utilized with all its new technological developments in the most interactive way to ensure: feedback, engagement and a response from the viewer/consumer.

There are many ways consumers can interact with brands, products and experiences using the internet as a platform to feedback – say, a personal experience. A good example here could be Amazon. The success of the online retail store could be seen as allowing consumers to interact and give their feedback regarding past user experience. For example if they have purchased a book off a distributor – but it arrived late and damaged; this gives the consumer a chance to leave feedback regarding their personal experience to inform others for future purchases. This is giving the user a positive way to interact with the brand and in return receive informational data back from other users about sellers – to make their your experience more smooth. Giving the consumer an active say within the process of their purchases allows the company to show that they value the consumer’s point of view and encourage interaction. This would be an example of P2M (peer to machine) interactivity.

Looking at P2P (peer to peer) interactivity, Napster was a huge breakthrough for this area, being the first file (music) sharing site. It allowed users to share their music collections online with other users around the globe. This as well as Ebay, Myspace, Youtube and Facebook  were identified by Deighton and Kornfeld (2007) as new traffic lanes for the convenience foremost of the consumer as well as the marketer.

So we have identified that digital interactivity can a big asset to an advertising and marketing campaign – however is just adding a Facebook group for your brand enough – and when a consumer ‘likes’ something – is that really interactivity at its best?!

On the 1st of February, Peugeot launched a new TV campaign show-casing their new limited edition ‘Envy’ Model car. The campaign will be interactive with a ‘whodunit’ style to it – using: TV, press, radio, mobile and Facebook mediums – to provide the viewers/consumers with clues to build up suspense about the story line – as it’s a mystery to who pushed the car into the pool…

See the TV ad below:

As part of the campaign consumers are invited to piece together the clues and vote via their Facebook page – with a chance to win a free car! Although its sounds engaging with the suspense being build up through the launch of TV ad followed by Facebook launch on the 17th of February – will the consumers really engage sufficiently through the means of Facebook and piecing together the mystery?

Peugeot’s MD, Christian Stein, said “brands should be careful how they use Facebook. It’s very fashionable, but there have been mistakes made by brands on Facebook and there will be more.”

I personally believe that for a brand to produce a successful interactive campaign using the tool of Facebook – there firstly needs to be an incentive (the free car) and secondly needs the other mediums to drive the traffic to the Facebook site in the first place. As the broadcast and print mediums don’t state clearly that there is a Facebook page to discuss clues etc., I feel the campaign may lack traffic at the start – before word-of-mouth kicks off….but I guess we will see, and time will tell! As the campaign is tactical, it will hopefully interest people and therefore grow traffic to official webpage.

So maybe the clue to a creative and interesting interactive campaign involves personal interaction and experience to create a playful nature, for the campaign to become Viral and create a buzz around the product or brand?

The release of Disney’s “The Sourcer’s Apprentice”, in July 2010, was a great creative example of how interactivity can be built into a campaign using new technologies, to engage and create buzz around the product.

They created an interactive game, in the form of a digital screen in New York, in front of Macy’s Department store – where there would be a guaranteed amount of the target audience (children) as was placed during the summer holidays. The screen allowed passers-by to engage with a video clip from the movie by tracking their hand movements and playing a game. This created great excitement within the children as it was such a surprise to come across. This quickly became videoed on peoples smart phones and posted on YouTube and Facebook and became Viral. This is allowing the interactivity to come from the consumer – by choosing to post videos up – not the brand done it for them. This shows true interactivity with the brand and product. The simple gesture of this installation in New York had great effect on the campaign – with the Facebook fan page initially gaining 115,000 fans – purely through word of mouth and virals – not company promotion.

By allowing the consumers to decide what to talk and share about online with their friends, shows true interactivity – as the Disney did not feed them a viral video – they filmed and uploaded themselves with excitement to show their friends.

By involving the consumer in the brand and its promotional activity, allows the consumer to feel involved and has the ability to interact with different touch points of the brand. Through this research I have come to realise, interactivity can work extremely positively for a company – but only if thought through properly, and not just getting on the band wagon of social networks, such as Facebook, and seeing ‘liking’ a comment as interactivity – as this is clearly not involving the consumer deeply enough to experience the brand.

I will leave you with this thought – and a perfect example of how a ‘brand’/music artist Ke$ha has incorporated her fans into a music video. The record company posted up on Facebook to all the fans – to send in pictures of them holding lyrics to the new release of a song. This gave the consumer a true feeling of involvement and interactivity with the music artist and the song, and so far has received 254, 637 views on YouTube. This is a great example of Deighton and Kornfeld’s (2007) theory of the Digital interactive marketing: Five paradigms, this section being – property and social exchange.


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