Top 10 #RealTimeMarketing Moments from April Fools Day

Well we’ve had the best of in real time marketing from the SuperBowl,Valentines Day and Oscars; last week brands across the world were at it again on trying to generate cultural conversation around weird and wacky April Fools Day pranks. 

 Here are my top 10 real time marketing moments from around the world:

 1. Google Maps Pokemon Challenge

Google Maps goes into recruitment mode with the help of Pokemon to find Pokemon Masters around the world.

2. Headdit: a quirky new way to browse Reddit

3. Dominos Edibox: a world first in snacking innovation


(Disclaimer: our Iris London office did this one)Image

4. LELO Dextrus: World’s first vibrator that makes you smart

The left handed orgasm for lovemakers around the world.

 5. Virgin America & NEST’s ‘Total Temperature Control’ give passengers control over their seating temperatures onboard

Sir Richard shows us how to feel a Chicago polar vortex onboard.

 6. Rent out your desk on AirBrb: some fun from Airbnb

What could be better than earning money while you work?

 7. LEGO offered free shipping by Turtle for one day only on Twitter


8. King’s College Choir in London offered up helium as a solution to replacing high male voices

Nice to see a religious group getting in on the fun

 9. SONY launched #SONYPowerFood to power their products via a new voltaic enzyme

 Last but not least, even the French got in on the fun

10. AirFrance introduced inflight selfies via #SelfintheAir camera


Hansel & Gretel Effect: the hidden trail of digital breadcrumbs #m360 presentation

Yesterday I spoke at the Mumbrella 360 #m360 conference in Sydney and I thought I’d share the speaker notes. The topic was social media and youth and I decided to talk about the concept of ‘digital breadcrumbs’ and how youth are expressing themselves and evading parents using social media tools……


Brands have and will always be playing catch up with youth culture. They’re always trying to stay on the trail.

As we all know, we’re all leaving traces of our presence across the internet, whether that be through social posts, sharing pictures and videos, or just surfing the web whilst signed in with Google. Think of these as ‘digital breadcrumbs’. So how are digital breadcrumbs affecting the social media behavior of the Internet’s most prolific sharers.. youth (specifically 16-24yr olds)?

I call it the Hansel & Gretel effect, the ways youth are both expressing themselves on social media platforms but also evading parents, marketers when leaving their digital breadcrumbs.

Today’s teens are constantly crafting and curating their online identity. This isn’t a new concept, but the explosion of new visual social platforms like Instagram has turbocharged this behaviour.

Our (Iris Worldwide’s)  recent Planet Hyperconnected study looked at the digital breadcrumbs of 6,000 18-24yr olds across 6 countries including Australia. Amongst other things, we found the average teen is consuming, creating and sharing content for up to 13hrs a day. Yes more than half the day. So they’re creating and leaving a hell of a lot of digital breadcrumbs.

So what are some of the digital breadcrumb themes (both good and bad) we are picking up on right now?

Firstly, we’re seeing the onset of Selfie Obsessed Syndrome – teens spending hours posing for the perfect selfie, or altering it on one of the many free photo editing aps. This is a behaviour that’s celebrity fuelled but also has permeated from youth subcultures driven by fashion and also sports for boys.

Whilst brands have moved away from a focus on image to reality/transparency over the past 5 years, teens are going the other way.

They are trying to create an idealised version of themselves to boost self esteem.

It’s not all fun and games though, there is a real INSTAGRAM- PRESSURE to look your best all the time and have a ‘perfect life’. We’re seeing many teens talk about ‘faking’ checkins at parties or festivals, as they feel the pressure to be seen in the right place.

They’re seeking approval by asking their friends to rate them #hotornot and #rateme on their posts as well as uploading selfies to judgement sites.

Their self esteem and confidence are increasingly being defined by how many likes and comments they get. When you’re a LIKEAHOLIC it’s a constant contest putting an amazing amount of pressure on your appearance.

This girl who we spoke to loves the fact that she gets up to 100 likes when she posts a selfie..for her it’s clearly a sense of validation and confidence.

However, the flipside of the positive validation is that there is an undercurrent of teens with body image issues as their selfies or pics are not perceived to be making the grade.

A week doesn’t go by when we don’t hear another story of a teen committing suicide following a relentless Facebook Bullying campaign by her classmates.


A little cultural trend born in Australia (to my knowledge)

Forget hanging at the local Macca’s or skatepark. We’re seeing Pop Up social media takeovers in the form of Instagram Parties.

Teens getting together, having a party and trying to post enough content to effectively take over Instagram for a couple of hours… Their plan is to #ownthenight

In an era where everything is shared, do teens really give a shit about privacy and do they worry about the ramifications?

Well a global study by Device Research for the Young People’s Consumer Confidence Index found that 68% of 16-24yr olds are not concerned that their social media behaviour could harm future job prospects.

However they are only really concerned with the NOW and those with immediate power over them.

Think about when we were growing up, teens have always wanted privacy – in our day it was our bedrooms with  “no parents allowed” hanging on the door.

For todays youth– the motivations are the same – they still want a place to express themselves away from Mum and Dad, but now it’s a digital hideout instead. They want a place they can call their own and talk their own language.

Comparing todays youth with older generations;


Their photo albums are now on Instagram

Their MTV are YouTube playlists

Their tapes and CDs are now spotify playlists

Their loveletters are now short sharp Snapchats

Their diaries are Tumblr pages

Their posters are now Pinterest pins

Their playground gossiping happens on facebook…  or at least it did…

Teens still crave privacy, but now Mum and Dad and unwanted friends are now on Facebook following their breadcrumbs.

It’s no surprise that today’s youth are spending less and less time on Facebook. I’ll go so far as to say there’s a movement off the platform by Aussie youth, following the trend from American youth.

There are simply too many chaperones at the party. The average age of a new user is now 47. So teens are getting out of there

So where are they going? Places Mum and Dad won’t find them like Instagram and Tumblr and places where they’re leaving fewer breadcrumbs.

Snapchat is the mobile app of the moment for youth … posts, pics and videos are sent and then selfdestruct within 10 seconds. They use it for meaningless fleeting interactions. It’s either silly selfies or sexting. Youth see it as failsafe way to share, communicate and interact without ever getting stung by mum and dad. As one teen said

‘It’s a way to connect with friends when you don’t really have anything to say.” Anonymous teen

However literally this week sites such as Snapchat Leaked and Snapchat Exposed  have popped up where people are screen grabbing naughty Snapchat pics and sharing them.


Another new behavior we’re seeing is youth leaving “coded breadcrumbs” online.

Teens are doing this by creating and sharing Cryptic Content as a form of privacy protection in the digital age. Academics call it social steganography where they control the meaning of content.

This is content that has layers of meaning, and hidden messages. To the untrained eye it can look like an innocent, vague facebook post, insta pic or vine video, but to those that know the inside language, it has pointed meaning.

Pew’s recent study on teens social media habits found that 64% of teens admit to using inside jokes and subtle cultural references to hide what they’re really saying.

As Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd states, ‘The more they share in public, the more they are hiding in plain sight

A recent example of a brand that’s tapped into cryptic content by creating a new language with hidden meaning is Puma with their Dance Dictionary.

So marketers today must be highly perceptive and agile, able to quickly spot and act upon the digital breadcrumbs the Hansels and Gretels of today are leaving behind them.

I think there are several types of brand action to consider when engaging youth in the social space:


Start with what will give teens social currency in the digiverse, conversation is king. It requires shifting the participation focus from message to cultural relevance that will get people talking.

Brands need to act at the speed of culture, real time marketing is an imperative  – think like a newsjacker,  being able to tap into relevant cultural memes or events and respond with social ideas at speed. At Iris we call it Urgent Genius and creating conversational currency must be a key tenet of your marketing program.


Trying to navigate through 13hrs of content a day is hardwork, at a minimum brands need to play the role of curators. Think less about what content you can create (remembering Youtube cops 72hrs of new content every minute) and how you cab make their life easier by being a curator.

Aggregating, organising and sharing ‘best of content’ created by others to add context, narrative and meaning to it.

Coke’s doing this really well at the moment.


Todays youth get a kick out of discovering the underlying meaning, and knowing what others don’t. Challenging youth to discover the hidden meanings and mechanics through gamification. Motivating and then rewarding them for deciphering ideas.

Our Iris team in London recently launched Adidas NEO fashion label using Justin Beiber, our ‘Find my gold shoes Adidas NEO’ idea generated participation by hundreds of thousands of Beliebers, with reach social reach to over 300m people on Facebook. If the reward ‘Bringing Justin the gold shoes you found online’ is motivating enough, people will participate in droves.


Finally and most importantly we need to continue to look at ways in which we can collude with youth. I purposely use the word collude over collaborate as I think collaboration is the most overused word in marketing. Collusion is much more about giving youth something special, making them feel like they have the inside track, letting them put their fingerprints on ideas so they can share as their own…in secret without broadcasting to their parents..just to their friends that will give them cred. It’s a word shift, but one I think is critical.


So yeah it’s harder than ever to keep up with youth culture, but understanding the digital breadcrumbs and the needstates is the key to engaging youth in the social age.

YouTube: Get more into music

I’ve had the pleasure of working with the guys at YouTubeAustralia (thanks Ernesto, Lucinda) these past few months on a project to showcase the depth and breadth of music available on the YouTube platform. Whatever your music passion, you can ‘get more into’ it on YouTube and we decided to showcase this music content  through the lens of some great artists.

We worked with a handful of Aussie and international artists as they created customised playlists of music on YouTube that’s inspired them – kind of their favourite musical moments on YouTube. Check out the YouTube channel here.

The first ‘Get more into music’ playlist was created by mashup artist Pogo. ‘Get more into mashups’ is an interesting playlist of  other YouTube mashups that have inspired his music. Some weird stuff in here especially the music jeans. Watch the full playlist here

‘Get more into vocals’ with Florence + the Machine

Watch the full playlist here

Get more into Aussie breakthroughs, a playlist created by Papa vs Pretty. Full playlist here

Get more into the Finn Brothers via the lens of Aussie band Oh Mercy. Full playlist here

Get more into Hidden Gems with Blue Juice. Full playlist here

Get more into animated clips with Josh Pyke Full playlist here

More ‘Get more into music’ playlists are in the works

#GoogleVoiceSearch speaks for itself in Aussie experiments

I’ve had the pleasure of working with the guys at Google Australia the past few months on an exciting project for Google Voice Search for mobile.

I’ll let the videos speak for themselves, but essentially we created two acoustic experiments with some rather unusual apparatus to test out the capabilities of Google Voice Search for mobile.

These are the two teaser videos

These are the actual longform experiments

During the filming of the two experiments we also reached out the the Tourism Australia Facebook community asking them what search questions they’d like to ask ‘underwater’ and in the ‘desert’.

So far we’ve got over 3.5m views all in and growing as well as a sizeable usage shift in peeps out there doing voice searches on their mobile, giving the technology a good old try.


Sprite’s ‘Green Eyed World- reality remixed by Facebook community

I’m really liking this idea by Sprite called ‘Green Eyed World’.  It’s obvious part of this brief was to create an authentic role in grassroots music for youth. Instead of making a TVC, they created a social music series built in real time, following an emerging artist, Katie Vogel for a year on youtube, with her fans being able to interact with her via Facebook connect. The idea was called ‘reality remixed’ and it’s got loads of follow factor. It has produced 4 seasons with 13 episodes, I’ve watched 3 of them and they’re not too bad.

The content itself isn’t that amazing, but what’s really interesting about this idea is how they cleverly linked in all the social media platforms and created a REAL TIME interaction method for the community to really get up close and personal with Katie V and her journey. The integration of Facebook connect along the journey has been brilliant and you can help her decide what to do, the whole way. The community helps create the outcome of the story, it’s truly an interactive brand narrative.  This is what creates the ‘follow factor’. It’s done very well, with 2.5m views on youtube.  My only criticism is that Sprite as a brand doesn’t really add that much value to the user experience, it’s in the background, which is maybe enough, but I would have pushed for more integration into the brand narrative.

The Social Media Revolution

This is a well put together video by the guys at Socialnomics basically showing the explosion of social media usage. One stat that blew me away was that if Facebook was a country, it would be the world’s 4th largest in terms of population…scary. I’m still in Gareth kay’s (from Goodby’s) corner, as i believe the way brands can leverage this new form of particpative consumer behaviour is by creating ‘social ideas’ youth want to be part.  This video ends with some good tips around companies needing to act like ‘party planners’ ‘aggregators’ and ‘content providers’ in order to engage people in this space. It all comes down to the era of PARTICIPATION.

Be more Social – The Ford Fiesta Movement

I’m a big believer in the fact that youth brands wanting to connect with those born after 1979 have to be more SOCIAL in the way in which they engage. In order to mobilise ‘followers’ they need to invite them in, give them something to do, empower them in some way. But most importantly , give them something worth talking about, or CHANGING. The Ford Fiesta Movement campaign has been around for a few months and has started to hit its straps. It’s a social media campaign to launch the Ford Fiesta in America. In terms of youth, they themselves are helping to CHANGE peoples negative perceptions of the brand. Alot of work to be done here.

one of the Fiesta Movement 100 change agents

one of the Fiesta Movement 100 change agents

Essentially they’ve recruited (via youtube auditions) 1000 ‘change agents’, who have each been given a new Ford Fiesta (a year before they actually launch) and have 6 themed adventures (1 a month) to complete. It’s a great example of a big brand being more social in the way it engages with youth and letting the community co-create content. They just facilitate the interaction in their cool little car. Will it work? Maybe. Is it ballsy? Yes. Ford deserves a bit of credit for pushing something new into the social media space and having a god. Whether  it’s an actual ‘movement’, I don’t think so as they’re not really changing anything important to youth if we’re honest…. but it’s a great example of leveraging a fan base as being your message carriers and creating a social idea.

Best content of 2009 – Lewis Hamilton and the RC Grand Prix

Have a look at this new Lewis Hamilton viral from Vodafone in the UK. For me, this is the best piece of content of 2009 so far, bar none. It has all the ingredients to go wildfire on the web. Is it scripted? Most likely. Does it matter? NO. This is the best example of a brand (Vodafone) leveraging its sponsorship of a sporting property. They’ve brilliantly tied in the functionality of the Blackberry Story with every mans childhood dream, controlling a real race car with a remote control. And it’s very sublte too, not in your face. As to whether or not Simon & Steve were really contacted my McLaren, well that’s just part of the folklore that adds to the mythology of the idea. It feels user generated and real and I don’t feel like i’m being tricked at any stage…not like the Witchery campaign.The pay off of seeing Lewis driving his F1 McLaren Mercedes using a Blackberry is worth 3 mins of my time. Love it.

The 38 Hour Day

Gen C have grown up with content overload, they stream and synthesize thousands of messages everyday. Youtube has become the new TV, they don’t want appointment to view, everything has to be on their own terms. They’re the ultimate multi-taskers, compressing 38hrs of activity into a single day, living in a state of continuous partial attention (Synovate Research, Australia). At any one time when a teen is sitting in his bedroom he has the following going on: watching Entourage, listening to satellite radio, taking a call on his Iphone, receiving a few texts, updating his Facebook profile, downloading a rip of ‘Watchmen’ from youtorrent, downloading music from Limewire, watching a favourite Youtube clip, getting ready to log onto World of Warcraft MMORPG and probably checking out a porn site.