First, it was a talking, feeling, thinking bike, now it’s a tree. Thanks to Happiness Brussels, we are now able to hear and see this tree’s thoughts and feelings. Aside from the fact that this is yet another example of how (enabling) technology can turn any real-world object into an engagement mechanism (this is true 11th Screen stuff here), the purpose behind the initiative is meaningful – to create a discussion around climate change. This, just as Nike’s Precious Bike did, illustrates the power of anything and everything “Out of Home” as a conduit to drive consumers deeper into a brand/discussion. As I’ve maintained here, the “new” Out of Home is not Digital Out of Home, it is utilizing the things and spaces around us to engage consumers and drive them deeper into the brand experience. While this execution is technically a “push only” execution on the surface, it is designed to facilitate discussion across multiple social channels, and it is in those channels that 2-way (push/pull) communication occurs. OOH is just one channel in the communication mix. Facebook, Flickr, Vimeo, Soundcloud, and Twitter are other ones. .com is another one. They’re not hard to make work together, it just requires forethought and planning. If you’re able to do that, these are the types of solutions you can make. Complete. Not silo’ed.
Nike one-ups the Chalkbot with Precious – the bike with a brain. This “brain,” made by Breakfast, New York is the ultimate enabling technology. It not only merges the real-world (offline) with the virtual world (online), it actually processes data like a brain and then responds (via Twitter) accordingly. It’s pretty amazing what they’ve made.
They’ve explored an interesting angle here, one that is much more in play here vs. Chalkbot – the thing (bike) is the hero, not the person (bike rider). (I also think it’s way cool that they’ve given a voice to Precious on the website, and taken it away (for the most part) from the rider, as you can see by the picture-only blog). This is a great example of the potential of the things and places around us – not people or true “screens” – that can engage consumers in ways we never thought possible. Technology is key to this. And in this specific instance, this brain technology actually enables the messaging to take on a life of its own. These messages are not customized based on the audience, they’re customized based on the messenger, powered by all of the context leading up to each message.
For marketers this is one of those game-changing ideas and executions. A thinking, talking bike? A “thing” that can provide content with a more-than-decent level of context. It truly learns as it goes. This is what gets me excited. This is the potential that I see in this space – those who are effective (will) understand the power of merging offline (which to me, is “out-of-home”) with online to create deep, meaningful brand experiences for their consumers.