Ford, Unilever among advertisers going mobile

04 February 2010

NEW YORK: Major advertisers such as Ford, the automaker, and Unilever, the FMCG giant, are making more use of mobile marketing to promote their products.

Ford partnered with Mobile Posse, the specialist agency, to develop a communications platform in support of the Taurus, a new model which was launched in the US in August last year.

In November and December 2009, the Detroit-based firm ran a campaign using Mobile Posse's MobiAd, an opt-in service which delivers ads on the "idle" mobile phone screens of 1 million registered consumers.

The aims of this scheme were to drive up awareness of, and interest in, its latest sedan, with full-screen executions showcasing both the inside and the outside of the car.

Ads also featured a "click-to-mobile web" option, whereby consumers were able to access a dedicated mobile website providing more information, and find local dealers, at the touch of a button.

The average clickthrough rate was 20%, with almost half of the unique users who consumed ads choosing to view further information as a result.

Lew Echlin, Ford's national marketing communications manager, said "the rapid growth of smartphone customers provided the perfect opportunity to unite innovation with the innovative."

This approach also offered a "wide stage to provide our customers with demonstrations and a call to action," he added.

Brian Bos, convergence director for Team Detroit, Ford's lead agency, described the campaign as an "engaging and interactive mobile experience that connected with consumers outside of the mobile browser."

Other organisations like Procter & Gamble, Gatorade and Ace Hardware have run their own "idle screen" programmes with MetroPCS, which operates a similar package to Mobile Posse.

Unilever, the FMCG giant, has also recently teamed up with Food Lion, the grocery store chain, to try and encourage uptake of its recently-launched Dove Men+Care range.

Shoppers holding the retailer's loyalty card will receive $4 (€2.85; £2.51) of discount vouchers if they send a text message to a specific number.

This initiative forms part of a wider digital effort that will include Facebook and Twitter, with netizens asked to send in photos, videos and messages about meeting "their own definition of success."

Kathy O'Brien, vice president of Unilever Skin, said it was "celebrating the journey men take to become comfortable with themselves."

In the UK, Marks & Spencer, the apparel chain, has experimented with "QR codes" on some of its juice offerings, which shoppers can scan with their handset to view offers, jokes and other content.

Mark Caul, senior packaging technologist at the company, "the QR codes are a fantastic opportunity to communicate to the customer, without increasing packaging size or label space."

"Using the mobile phone technology, it is possible to link to provenance stories about the product, or, indeed, stories behind the packaging, to far greater depth - including the use of video footage – all tailored to the mobile phone screen."

PepsiCo added these devices to 400 million cans and bottles of Pepsi Max in the UK last year, giving customers the chance to stream free music, win concert tickets and download games.

The use of QR Codes is much more widespread in Japan, where brands ranging from Coca-Cola to Louis Vuitton have worked with SET, an agency with established expertise in this area.

Greg McMaster, a creative planner at SET, said "in Japan now it is rare to find a product, flyer, poster, billboard, magazine or newspaper without a QR code on it."

"They provide a direct link for the consumer to the product or company and marketers here love them because of the specific data they can return on a campaign's effectiveness."

Data sourced from Mobile Posse, Mobile Marketer, Supermarket News; additional content by Warc staff