As I said in my last post, I’m on a hunt to find brands (and examples) who create “complete” experiences, specifically by merging the offline with the online (or vice versa). I believe technology is an ideal way to do this, but not always required. Brands can find many ways to utilize what they’re doing “offline”, in the real world, and drive consumers deeper into the brand experience “online”, in the digital world. And I’m talking about more than putting a URL on packaging.
I found an unlikely brand doing something interesting when we decided to make tacos for dinner. Introducing Old El Paso and their “El TacoDor Game!” – found on their taco shell box and billed as the “Family Taco Dinnertime Game!”
For this experience (and others like it that come after), I’m going to modify my scorecard that I usually use for IOOH. As with that scorecard, I think it’s important to have a guide when looking at these experiences – something that will help focus my thoughts on what I feel is important.
Experience – What’s the brand experience? Is it offline to online or vice versa? Consumers are driven from the box of Old El Paso taco shells (offline) to the El TacoDor website (online) where they can read the rules to the game, download scorecards, upload content via video/photo submissions, and even share content with their own Facebook communities. The site is actually rich with content and things to do.
Purpose – What’s the purpose of this experience? Old El Paso created this game so that families could engage with each other over dinner. I really like the idea of getting families involved with each other, via game or not, over a meal. In my family, meal-time and eating together is important. We don’t have the TV on, we rarely have music on – it’s just time where we can talk and focus on each other. Old El Paso’s type of engagement here is good. The game doesn’t require a lot and as you can see by some of the challenges, it looks to provide some fun times.
Visibility – Similar to “Drama”, here it’s important to understand how visible the call-to-action is that drives people from one channel to the other. In this case, the call-to-action is to play the game, which is found on the box. I’m no expert in packaging, but I have to say, I almost missed it. Just like anything, design plays an important role in how prominent something is. In this case, the call-to-action is up against an orange background and just fades into the packaging on the box. I don’t feel like it’s special enough. It doesn’t scream, “hey, I’ve got something fun for you guys to do around your dinner table!” The elements are there, it just doesn’t reach out and grab me.
Entry Points – How many “offline” entry points does the consumer have? And how many “online” entry points does the consumer have? How consistent with each other are they? Do they all drive to the same destination? I should start this by saying that the sweepstakes (for $5,000) tied to this game has officially ended (as of March 31, 2010), so I don’t know how much they want to promote this game via their packaging now. That said, the “game” never ends so I was disappointed to see the game only advertised on the box of taco shells. None of the other Old El Paso products mentioned the game at all. Clearly, they went to all this trouble to create this type of engagement online – it’s just a shame that they only used one product to drive people to the game (if in fact, this was the case prior to the sweepstakes ending). Online, I didn’t find many encouraging clues driving to the game either. The Old El Paso Home page doesn’t mention it at all. The Old El Paso Facebook page doesn’t mention it at all. And the Old El Paso Twitter page doesn’t mention it, either. The only other branded online driver I could find is the El TacoDor’s YouTube channel, upon which there are only 2 videos (both from 2009 – one with 2,600+ views and the other with 8,600+ views). What gives? There are various 3rd party sites out there that mention the game, but I think the brand is doing a huge disservice to themselves by not utilizing their own branded channels to drive people to this game.
Content – I think there are two parts to this: 1) What type of content sets up the engagement? and 2) What type of content, if any, is generated by the consumers? Here, Old El Paso does a great job of setting up the game, giving users all the tools they need to start and complete the game. It’s real user-friendly. As a little bonus, they even have a web-based game for people who just want to poke around. It’s a silly game, but I played it, and as a result, stayed engaged with the brand a little bit longer.
While there was content created by the consumers on the site, I didn’t see very much of it. There wasn’t any real, visible engagement on behalf of the brand on any of the channels – .com, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. It all begs the question – is this something that people are motivated enough to do? Speaking from personal experience, no matter how good the idea is, if it’s not going to engage people to the point of spreading the word and/or coming back repeatedly and/or getting other people to see and play it, it probably shouldn’t be done. I think this is a real clever idea, but as a marketer and as a consumer, when I see so little content and engagement on the primary channels, I don’t feel like anyone’s watching. And when no one’s watching, I’m not going to play.
Extensions – How deep does this experience go? It’s bringing people from the offline world into the online world, now where all can they go? Here, I thought Old El Paso did a great job of giving the consumers the ability to extend this into their own social networks, specifically Facebook (which certainly helps the game spread virally).
They even give users the ability to make their own Certificate of Awesomeness, print it out, and hang it on the fridge, which is a less direct extension, but one nonetheless. I think this is a great touch to this whole experience.
There’s an element to this experience that I feel needs to be mentioned, as with any other game – I’m just not sure it goes along with all experiences like this that I’ll be finding and talking about – and that’s the aspect of incentives or rewards. Games can bring people together and enable deeper experiences with brands, but consumers will only do so much for “free.” There has to be some sort of incentive or reward to keep them engaged over a long period of time and coming back for more. Here, there was a sweepstakes tied to the game, but that’s the only reward I could find. Once the sweepstakes is over, what’s my incentive for coming back and interacting with Old El Paso? Why do I have to buy this brand? Now that I have all of the game elements, I can buy the generic products for the cheaper price. Old El Paso doesn’t want that. Simple coupons for consumers who reach a certain level of points (can be low-level) would not only give consumers something to play for, it would send them back into the store to buy more product. This is a key element that is missing from this entire experience.
All in all, though, I was really delighted with this experience. It was a smart idea, deep in experience, but didn’t seem to have the support commiserate with what is needed in this type of engagement. I’d love to talk to someone on the brand about the success (or failure) of this experience. With a couple of tweaks, I really feel like this could be a sticky engagement. What do you think?
Have you seen anything like this? Great idea – one that merges the offline with the online – but little engagement? If so, I’d love to hear from you!