Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Kellogg are among the brands leading the way so far this year in engaging customers through SMS, mobile loyalty and applications.
Winning customer loyalty today is more challenging than ever as empowered mobile consumers increasingly control their media choices.
As the first half of the year progressed, a number of campaigns reflected a growing awareness of the power of interactivity in reinforcing customer loyalty and driving brand engagement.
Here are the top 10 mobile branded customer engagements of the first half of 2014, in alphabetical order.
Coca-Cola bottles turn musical when on-pack lyrics are scanned To spur consumers’ connection with the ￼￼￼brand, Coca-Cola rolled out a campaign in China that put lines from popular songs on bottles of soda, allowing for on-demand access to content and creating a shareable experience via popular social application WeChat.
Each Lyric Coke bottle featured a QR code that could be scanned to activate a short clip featuring the lyric on that bottle. The animated musical clips were designed specifically to be shareable in social media, and were positioned as a new way to consume music – the shareable musical soundbite .
Digital marketing agency Isobar had a part in developing the Coke Lyric bottle campaign. Narrating a strong brand story that is consumer-relevant has become increasingly challenging, but new media can help brands tell stories in multisensory ways previously never dreamed of.
In a separate initiative, Coca-Cola’s tests with a line of interactive refrigerators integrated with augmented reality and mobile technology highlighted the need for marketers to round out digital investments with physical assets to make the most of in-store experiences.
Coca-Cola Australia tested a new type of interactive fridge that leveraged augmented reality, facial recognition, social media and mobile to dole out relevant offers and content to specific consumers in-store. The initiative was the latest example of the growing momentum in mobile to extend the in-store shopping experience beyond smartphones and tablets into other types of devices.
According to an article in AdNews, 50 fridges were tested in several markets, including Atlanta, Tokyo, London and Australia during the past year. The appliances included digital screens and a camera. A box on the top of the machine uses Microsoft Kinect technology to power the digital activations to the fridge.
The technology let marketers push out coupons, promotional material and games based on data that is gleamed from the appliance, such as a shopper’s emotion.
Disney leverages mobile to drive cross-screen video sales Walt Disney Studios targeted families and parents who increasingly watch full-length movies across multiple devices with a new video service that included a mobile application and Web site.
The film studio’s new app was part of a bigger cloud-based product called Disney Movies Anywhere that let consumers discover, buy and watch films on tablets, smartphones and laptops. The initiative tied together three of Disney’s brands — Pixar, Disney and Marvel — into a hub of cross-screen content.
The new Disney Movies Anywhere app works with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices. There is also a Web component to the service, which consists of more than 400 films and is linked to an iTunes account. Each movie is $19.99.
Once consumers create an account, they can watch their films and additional content from any device.
Disney Movies Anywhere also includes multi-screen watching so that consumers can watch content across different devices at the same time. The Web component includes a streaming function so that consumers can instantly begin watching a movie from where they left off from a mobile device.
GE emphasizes benefits of connected homes with app-linked LED bulb General Electric Co., which entered the world as a maker of light bulbs, shone a light on mobile’s role in the brand’s vision of the connected home with a new LED bulb that links to a mobile application and enables consumers to remotely control their home lighting from anywhere by syncing with their smartphones.
The “Link” bulb will be sold at Home Depot stores for under $15 starting this fall and can be pre-ordered online. GE also updated its year-old Wink app with a new program called the Hub, which allows a host of devices that operate on Bluetooth and other wireless systems to connect to a single hardware system. The project shows how companies are increasingly setting their sights on a connected home experience as mobile plays a bigger role in the way we live.
The app will be available for iOS on Apple’s App Store and for Android on Google Play. It eliminates the need for costly add-ons typically associated with connected devices, GE said.
GE's LED bulb can be operated remotely together with other devices through Wink program.
Wink, produced by GE-backed startup Quirky, currently connects numerous GE/Quirky smart-home products over a Wi-Fi network.
General Mills' Nature Valley takes virtual hiking paths mobileBringing a dose of nature into customers’ lives, General Mills’ Nature Valley Trail View virtual hiking paths became available on mobile for the first time following heavy traffic on mobile and consumer interest in taking the experience on the go.
Reviews showed interest in utilizing the virtual guides during physical visits as an educational and navigational tool. Users gained access to 23 high-resolution panorama views of national parks using the optimized mobile Web site.
The mobile site is similar to its desktop counterpart and users can access all of the same views. General Mills launched the virtual tool on desktop in 2012 to give those unable to travel the ability to explore United States national parks in a different way.
Trail View claims to be the only digital platform to capture extensive street-view content for Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains and the Sequoias.
Kellogg activates Olympic donations via mobile call-to-action Kellogg launched its biggest Olympic and Paralympics marketing campaign to date with mobile playing a key role in how the consumer packaged goods brand activates digital interactions through static packaging.
Kellogg plastered mobile calls-to-actions on cereal boxes from brands including Apple Jacks that promoted the “From Great Starts Comes Great Things” campaign, which incorporated 11 different Olympic and Paralympic athletes and hopefuls. Kellogg worked with Zoove to power the campaign.
Kellogg set up the **Start dial code to integrate with its Olympic sponsorship, which was promoted with a call-to-action on the brand’s cereal boxes. When consumers called **Start, a voice recording of former Olympic athlete Kristi Yamaguchi answered the call.
For each call made, Kellogg donated one breakfast for a child in need as part of its Team Kellogg’s initiative.
McDonald’s breakthrough mobile game inserts 3D reconstructions of menu items In its first global digital promotion, McDonald’s leveraged new mobile technology that created a real-time 3D reconstruction of menu items on a table for a soccer-themed game that brought a new level of interactivity and authenticity to its brand engagements on mobile.
McDonald’s French fries came in new packaging celebrating the FIFA World Cup in Brazil that also unlocked a new augmented reality experience featuring the virtual trick-shot challenge. Using Qualcomm’s new Smart Terrain vision capability, users of the McDonald’s GOL! application were able to bring in objects from their environment such as their cup or Happy Meal box to use in the game and help them score.
The app lets users build their own game environments using everyday objects. The app creates a 3D geometric map of the environment in real-time, recreating various objects on a surface such as a table and giving users the ability to interact with these objects. This is all done using existing cameras.
Separately, McDonald’s first use in the United States of a company-branded mobile-ordering and payments application at restaurants in Columbus, GA, continued an effort by the world’s largest restaurant chain to get a much-demanded service right before making it more widely available.
Reconstructing acres of McDonald’s french fries - in 3D.
The app, available for both iPhones and Android devices, allowed customers to skip store or drive-thru lines by scanning a QR code at a restaurant. The move was the latest example of how the QSR sector is leading the charge with mobile payments.
The company said it was testing some of these technologies in a few markets, and declined to speculate on the decisions it might make after the tests.
Starbucks pulls in brand recognition to build New York Times subscriptions Starbucks teamed up with the New York Times, a long-time partner in both print and digital initiatives, on a promotion that doled out free access to the publisher’s newly launched mobile news product.
Starbucks’ My Starbucks Reward members received 12 weeks of access to the New York Times’ new NYT Now mobile application. With the move, Starbucks leveraged its brand reputation to drive mobile app downloads and adoption for the Times’ initiatives.
The promotion fit into a much bigger push from the Times that launched earlier. NYT Now is a subscription news product that includes a stand-alone mobile app and Web site that serves up a curated amount of news items for $8 every four weeks.
Starbucks promoted the partnership through an email blast that was sent to all My Starbucks Rewards members.
Pepsi anchors Oscars promotion with SMS
Pepsi continued to rely on the convenience and commonality of mobile to activate its paper products with a new SMS-triggered sweepstakes that gave fans a chance to win a trip to celebrate the 86th Academy Awards show.
Pepsi partnered with Regal Entertainment Group on the “Sip Like a Star” campaign that plastered SMS keywords on the soda giant’s cups sold in movie theaters. It placed SMS calls-to-action on all fountain drink cups at Regal’s Hollywood Theatres locations.
Pepsi's SMS program offered fans a trip to the Oscars show.
To enter the sweepstakes, consumers could text a unique code on the cup to a short code or a number. Users were then sent a reply message asking for their date of birth to find out if they were an instant winner.
Running an SMS sweepstakes remains an effective way that marketers activate sweepstakes, despite the increase in newer technologies. In this case, Pepsi’s campaign was clearly labeled, and the value in texting to win was simple for consumers.
Toyota taps Vine to highlight children’s imaginations and its own innovativeness Toyota, creating goodwill and a personal connection with customers, unveiled a Vine campaign that showcased the artwork of children globally addressing the topic of futuristic transportation.
The first-of-its kind program brought another dimension to the annual Toyota Dream Car Art Contest, which for the first time used mobile social. Attracting more than 660,000 submissions, the contest showcased the best branded creative elements of a Vine campaign – it was seen as funny, creative, innovative and had a simple message delivered clearly. It reflected the rule-of-thumb for any content produced by a brand – that it should either be entertaining, informative or engaging.
Social channels have a lot of upside for car companies and are an important channel for building brand appeal, supporting new product launches and building deeper connections with owners and fans.
Toyota partnered with creative agency Saatchi & Saatchi Fallon Tokyo to conceptualize the Dream Car of the Day and bring the 90 finalists' dream car drawings to life through 3D and 2D animations.
￼￼￼United Airlines plots new course to ramp up on mobile With mobile bookings growing, United Airlines ramped up its mobile strategy to help drive sales, having introduced redesigned applications earlier this month for iOS and Android and plans in place to upgrade its Web site later this year.
United announced plans last fall for a total revamping of its online and mobile offerings, which came only weeks after it missed estimates for third-quarter earnings, while its competitors experienced record results.
Since the 2008 recession, which impacted the airline industry to a point of financial crisis, many carriers have made serious attempts to rebrand and reclaim customer loyalty, with mobile playing a key role.
The online travel market has grown fiercely competitive since then for a global audience that demands diverse and quality options designed around price sensitivity. Digital marketers in this territory are struggling with how to most effectively implement marketing strategies that make every session, page and tap or click count.
First announced in March, the new iOS United app adds the required software to browse and watch video content when connected to the airline's in-flight Wi-Fi service. The recently updated version enables users to stream more than 150 movies and nearly 200 TV shows for free while in flight.
Michael Barris is staff reporter with Mobile Marketer, New York.
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.