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Maytag whirs up haptic video for one-day ESPN mobile takeover

Home appliance brand Maytag is bringing a unique spin to its upcoming one-day takeover of ESPN?s mobile site by incorporating haptic technology into its ad, syncing viewers' devices with the video?s most powerful moments.

Maytag is gearing up to provide consumers with a multi-sensory mobile experience via the emerging technology, which a slew of brands have recently tapped. On November 16, ESPN fans visiting its mobile site will be able to view the Android-optimized clip and experience the intensity felt by the Maytag Man in his factory experience.

?The setting for this ad is a factory, much like our own factories in Ohio where our laundry appliances are designed, engineered and assembled,? said Brendan Bosch, senior brand manager at Maytag, Benton Harbor, MI. ?As a result, there are lots of mechanical sounds already happening as the machines are being built, which lend themselves perfectly to haptic technology to give the viewer the sense they are ?in? the factory too.?

Providing powerful moments
Android users who visit ESPN?s mobile site on Monday will be able to view the Maytag Man commercial, which humorously depicts factory workers assembling a host of the famous spokesmen instead of home appliances.

As the machines in the video flicker and move, smartphone owners will feel their device sputter along with the scene playing out in front of them. The haptic technology has enabled cue points to be embedded within the clip, so that users will feel whatever the Maytag Man does.

For example, if a drill in the video rumbles, consumers? phones will shake in their hands and provide a corresponding jolt. The pulsing vibrations have been specifically synced with content to offer viewers a multi-sensory experience that goes beyond tried-and-true advertising tactics, such as standard banner ads.

?The experience that comes with haptic technology taps into multiple senses - eyes, ears and touch - making it a unique viewing experience for users,? Mr. Bosch said. ?This is the first time Maytag and ESPN have each leveraged haptic.?

ESPN fans may not be expecting these features when they visit the site during this one-day takeover, which could provide a surprising yet memorable experience for them. The multi-sensory aspect of the video may propel the Maytag brand to the forefront of customers? minds when they are picking out their next home appliance.

Growing haptic emergence
ESPN and Maytag are not the only major brands taking advantage of haptic technology?s rising star.

Stoli Group USA recently tapped touch-enhanced haptic technology to offer a real-world feeling in a new mobile video ad, displaying a cartoon woman bouncing around with a martini shaker, the contents of which she then pours into two glasses (see story). As the drink-making device shakes, users? devices will mimic the action.

Additionally, Showtime partnered with Immersion Corporation last year to use its haptic technology in mobile ads for its hit show Homeland, with the goal of increasing viewer engagement and retention (see story).

Maytag?s collaboration with ESPN for the one-day takeover is a smart move that keeps in mind the relevancy of the network?s target audience. More consumers may opt to visit ESPN?s mobile site in the future if they happen to enjoy the effects of haptic technology on Monday.

?More and more, we're finding that many users are visiting our Web site through their mobile device and tablets,? Mr. Bosch said. ?We want to make sure we're reaching those consumers as part of our integrated marketing approach.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Marketer, New York