advertising, broadcasting, planning, viewing

Conventional blinkering; how Visa’s Mystery Box was closed too soon

back in January I posted on JJ Abrams idea of Mystery Boxes; that the intentional withholding of information is much more engaging than giving someone the whole story… that sometimes mystery is more important than
knowledge.  I suggested that in comunications planning we’re too obsessed with giving consumers
information and resolution…  instead we need to more often give them some questions, some

I was reminded of this thinking recently when I caught the above ad for Visa.  it opens with a big fat mystery box; a panicked guy running naked thru a desert.  how come he’s there?  why’s he naked?  where’s he running to?  lots of questions… which in short mean you keep on watching the ad.

it’s a great ad, but it could have been a lot braver with it’s media…  why did they have to give the whole thing away in 30 seconds?  they could have top and tailed it – extending the mystery box across the ad break or even across a whole TV show.  and if they’d been really brave, they could have teased the ad for a week without showing the resolution.

by resolving the mystery box so soon, Visa have missed out on sparking a multitude of conversations, roughly around the theme of "why’s man running naked thru the desert with nothing but a Visa card?"

a great ad which missed out on being a brilliant piece of
communication because it played to the conventions of a TV spot…  conventions are there for a reason, but sometimes they’re there to be broken…

engaging, gaming, internet

Let the AR Game begin!

I’ve wanted to get my teeth into planning a good Alternative Reality Game (ARG) for a while now, so I was interested to see this come my way courtesy of Stew Gurney.  it’s an ARG based around the upcoming Olympics in Beijing.  what strikes me is how slick this is…  very high quality audio-video content and great design of the navigation of the evidence.  the whole site can be viewed here.

it will be interesting to see where this one goes…  ARGs as a concept, have struggled from a perception of being too niche – capitalising on the Olympics could be a sound strategy to breaking into the mainstream (it would seem that the nature of the interface has been designed with entry-level in mind)…

also I’m clueless as to which brand this is for, or whether it’s for the Olympics itself…  but I’m not sure this entirely matters!  half the fun will be finding out…

Daniel Terdiman has written a great summary of the initial box of evidence which he received here…  let the AR Game begin!


Update: Thanks for Stephen Bedggood for the heads up that this ARG is for McDonalds…  great effort on their part… smart and unexpected.  it will be interesting to see how and if this translates to any in-restaurant activity come August

advertising, branding, regulating

Sky-High Stakes in Hong Kong’s Out of Home Arms Race

Dsc04043Mediation is on tour in Australasia for a few weeks.  whilst on it’s first stop in Hong Kong it noticed this little poster for Calvin Klein’s Steel range.  towering above the island’s Central district, the building wrap dwarfs many of the surrounding buildings and can be seen not only from much of the island but also from Kowloon across the harbour.

it’s typical of the predominance of outdoor in the territory…  from the biggest billboards to the depths of the underground, posters in a multitude of shapes and forms are everywhere.  in Mediation’s native UK, shopfronts tell the story of what’s available inside – but in the visual arms race of Hong Kong you need to shout a lot louder, and higher.

this prevalence of outdoor tells us much about media consumption in the area…  for a massively dense and highly mobile population it’s no doubt a very effective medium.

but it also tells us much about the cultural differences between Hong Kong and the UK.  big building wraps like the above have occasionally been available in London – County Hall and Trafalgar Square’s Nelson’s column come to mind – but it’s difficult to imagine a 50ft crotch being put on display; the applications in London were as much about the suitability of a brand to the city’s culture and community as much as about how much a brand was prepared to pay for the space.  commercially is simply not as big a factor as sensitivity to conservative public tastes.

the above building wrap would cause a public outcry in London.  not so in Hong Kong…  where the bustling life of the city continues seemingly oblivious to the Calvin Klein model towering above them.  in the city’s outdoor arms race, the stakes have been raised.  I’m not entirely sure how much further they could go…