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Campaigns Editor's pick technology

The New York Times launches AR campaign capability ahead of Winter Olympics

The New York Times' AR experience mobile editorial Team USA olympic games
The New York Times’ AR experience

The New York Times has launched its first ever in-article augmented reality campaign, spotlighting Team USA athletes ahead of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Korea.

Available within the publisher’s app, the feature allows users who are reading an Olympic-focused article to experience athletes in 3D by activating their phone cameras and pointing towards a flat surface. At key moments in the written story, the text fades to reveal an image of an athlete, including figure skater Nathan Chen and hockey goalie Alex Rigsby.

Walking around the 3D figures opens up new points of view and more information on their expertise. For instance, Austrian snowboarder, Anna Gasser, is featured executing a jump, which prompts the screen to encourage the user to walk the 60ft she travels, creating a physical idea of distance.

The experience is peppered with visual highlights that light up when the user walks around the virtual object. It’s a strong example of a brand nudging the consumer towards the behaviour of interacting with digital realities from a UX standpoint.

Graham Roberts, the publisher’s head of immersive storytelling, told AdWeek that it was imperative to develop an integrated approach that didn’t require downloading a different app or leaving an article to engage with – and thus, treating AR like any other piece of media consumers are used to interacting with. “There’s a whole language that needs to be learned on both sides, the producers and the consumers,” he said. “It’s almost like introducing the mouse for the first time; it’s a new way of interacting with something.”

The activation also includes a 3D view of ice dancers Alex and Maia Shibutani, sponsored by Ralph Lauren.

According to Jared van Fleet, director of new business at the publisher’s in-house experiential agency, Fake Love, the market for augmented reality within advertising is quickly picking up speed: “The first brands that we saw that were really excited to experiment were largely in categories like fashion or auto: brands that have premium physical products,” he said. “A lot of brands are starting to understand that they need to begin to build a strategy for how they’re going to communicate their brand in 3D, whether or not they’re B2B services or B2C physical products, in all kinds of forms.”

Van Fleet is also optimistic about what this means for consumer adoption of the technology: “When a brand with the distribution and credibility that The New York Times has gets into AR, we start to reach an audience that we haven’t really yet engaged with this technology. Any kind of new medium or technology is developed with iterations that take into account user behavior and understanding how people are responding.”

Working on this campaign was experiential agency Fake Love, who scanned the athletes for 3D rendering, and the publisher’s in-house content arm T Brand Studio, using Apple ARKit.

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Editor's pick product technology

Ralph Lauren introduces heat-conducting smart jacket for USA Olympics team

Ralph Lauren has launched a smart jacket that will allow the USA Olympics team to keep warm at this year’s Winter games, taking place in PyeongChang, South Korea.

As part of the team’s official uniform, which the brand has been designing for six years, a parka and a bomber jacket each use heat-conducting ink that generates warmth similar to an electric blanket.

“We’re looking back and celebrating what’s iconic and symbolic of America, and merging that with where we’re headed,” says David Lauren, the brand’s chief innovation officer. The uniform, which includes classics of American fashion such as jeans and thick suede gloves, nod to different American frontiers, he adds. “The frontiers of the 1800s and 1900s, and then the frontier of today, which is technology.”

Lauren explains that the design’s top priority was to allow for flexibility: while temperatures in South Korea can reach below zero in the winter, athletes needed to feel equally comfortable wearing the jacket while waiting at the backstage area ahead of the Opening Ceremony. After investigating suitable fabrics, the brand landed on technology.

 

Ralph Lauren's Heated Parka, tech-enabled textiles
Ralph Lauren’s Heated Parka

The garment’s heat is achieved through a special type of carbon and silver ink bonded to the jacket lining, which in keeping with the brand’s roots, were sewn in the shape of an American flag.

The ink connects to a battery pack sewn into the garment, which when fully charged can heat the jacket for up to 11 hours. Athletes can then adjust the temperature up or down via an app.

To develop the jacket, the RL innovation team worked with several US-based  partners such as engineers at Delaware-based tech giant DuPont, who had previously developed heated garments which were deemed to heavy for everyday wear. The brand also worked with Butler Technologies, a high-tech precision screen-printer based in Pittsburgh; apparel manufacturer 99Degrees, who helped bond the heater to the jacket’s lining; Key Tech, a high-tech design firm that helped design the battery packs with user experience in mind; and Principled Design, who designed the connectors that attach the battery pack to the heater in a streamlined way.

A sketch of Ralph Lauren's Olympics opening ceremony outfit connected tech, textiles
A sketch of Ralph Lauren’s Olympics opening ceremony outfit

Lauren explains that the jacket is an experiment towards launching a consumer-facing connected product this year: “Our hope is that we’ll learn enough that we’ll be able to go into production with a different, limited edition jacket for this fall.”

For years, the brand has been experimenting with technology and how it can improve performance when embedded in textiles. In 2015, it launched the PoloTech smart shirt, which captures biometric information and transmits it to an accompanying app, while for the 2016 Summer Olympics, it created a blazer with electroluminescent panels for torch-bearer Michael Phelps.

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film

Courage underpins beautiful new Lacoste campaign film

#LiveBeautifully seems an apt hashtag for the latest ad from Lacoste. Created to support the brand’s “Life is a Beautiful Sport” campaign, it’s an arresting 60-second film depicting “a man about to risk it all to win the game of his life”.

That game, it’s suggested, is love. The Big Leap, as the spot itself is called, sees actor Paul Hamy building up the courage to go in for a kiss with model Anna Brewster in one scene, while another (the metaphor) sees him leaping off the side of a building and falling towards the ground until their lips lock. 

The film was created by BETC and directed by Seb Edwards. It features “You & Me”, a song by Disclosure featuring Eliza Doolittle remixed by Flume. 

It launched in France during the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony, and will be broadcast globally from March 2014 onwards.

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social media

JC Penney tried, but failed to nail social marketing during Super Bowl XLVIII

Last year’s Super Bowl game was all about the success Oreo achieved with its Dunk in the Dark instant Twitter response. While lots of brands played with social this time round – from Tide to Chobani – no one quite nailed it in the same way, or certainly not with a legitimate real-time feel to it.

JC Penney however, was one that tried. The US department store posted two tweets throughout the evening with numerous typos in them. Needless to say, even in a sea of 25 million tweets (up from last year’s 24.1 million), they quickly went viral.

A drunken employee with access to the corporate social accounts was the inevitable assumption. Not surprising with copy that read: “Who kkmew theis was ghiong tob e a baweball ghamle. #lowsscorinh 5_0.” And: “Toughdown Seadawks!! Is sSeattle going toa runaway wit h this???”

In no time at all, they’d received upwards of 19,000 retweets and 8,000 favourites each. Things then got even better when other brands weighed in – Macy’s amusingly denied responsibility, Kia asked whether they needed a designated driver, and perhaps the best of all, Snickers looped in its own ongoing campaign concept by saying: “Eat a #SNICKERS, you’re not you when you’re hungry RT @JCPenney Who kkmew theis was ghiong tob e a baweball ghamle. #lowsscorinh 5_0.”

It was a brilliant marketing ploy – JC Penney was just about to respond with something groundbreaking, bang on target for the ever eager, second screen consumer. Weren’t they?

Alas, mittensgate. Yes mittens. The JC Penney social team were wearing mittens. New York / New Jersey was so cold they couldn’t possibly tweet in any other way (although it turns out it actually wasn’t), so they had to keep their fingers wrapped up in cosy mittens and desecrate all over what could have been a spectacular social hijack in the process. #tweetingwithmittens: how disappointing.

According to the follow-up posts, the initiative was designed to promote the retailer’s Team USA mittens for the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics. From one cold sporting event (or not) to the next (also a case of, or not)…

Kate Coultas, a spokesperson for JC Penney, told BuzzFeed: “We knew Twitter would be very active but wanted to find a way to stay above the Super Bowl fray and instead create our own narrative. Given it was cold, and we are selling Go USA mittens — we thought it could be a fun stunt!”

Perhaps I’m being a touch harsh, the move has after all generated a ton of buzz, not to mention coverage across multiple major marketing publications, and all that without the hefty $4 million TV media buy. That said, without the best recent sales history, it just feels like there might have been somewhat of a slightly wasted opportunity in focusing merely on a pair of gloves for sale.

As Business Insider, who referred to the ploy as “frankly, a bit lame”, said: “It’s sort of hard to gauge the actual sentiment toward the campaign, as the Twitter bios of the people who interacted with JCPenney’s posts indicate that most of them are involved in media in one way or another.” This writer included.