OK, so maybe we don't like the new Sprint Together With Nextel thing but we absolutely love the company's Entertainment Anytime cab ride experience that promotes Sprint's Powervision network which consists of video, news, music, games TV and other goodies for your cell phone. This little piece of amusement resembles that of HBO's Taxi Cab Confessions except there's no confessing and it's all G rated. Basically, the keys on your keyboard become devices through which to add a bit of entertainment to a usually boring cab ride all while making an analogy to Sprint's far better choice of entertainment on its cell phone network. Perhaps we'll forgive them for all that yellow and inane combo-branding strategy.
In early October, we announced a New Zealand Telecom Mobile promotion which involved SMS, Battleship, and blowing up an actual battleship. Well, the ship has been blown up, 115,000 signed up to win the honor of blowing up the ship and 2.5 million text messages were sent.
The winner was 22 year old female student, Jo Smith, who, on Sunday 13th November 2005, pushed the button that sent the 3,000 ton frigate to the bottom of the sea where it starts its new life as New Zealand's newest dive wreck and home for marine life. Tens of thousands of spectators turned up on the shoreline and hills of South Wellington, and there were over 220 assorted water craft and vessels there to witness the event. The sinking had been delayed for 24 hours due to bad weather, but in the end it all went off perfectly and attracted significant media coverage for Wellington and for TouchCast (the promotion organizer) client, Telecom Mobile. View the explosion here.
While we're not quite what the draw is about watching television on a 2.5 inch screen in a world of 50 inch televisions, we can't complain about Walt Disney's deal with Apple to provide next-day downloads for $1.99 via iTunes to the new video iPod of ABC's popular series Lost and Desperate Housewives, among others. With dwindling television viewership and, hence, dwindling ad revenue for networks, providing mobile, commercial-free, pay-per-view programming makes a tremendous amount of sense for the nets. If this takes off, networks will run with glee to the bank. Marketers, with an ad medium pulled out from under their feet, may not be so happy.
Reaffirming New Zealanders know how to have fun, Telecom Mobile has launched an SMS campaign inspired by the board game Battleship and called Push the Button. The player who wins an SMS game to locate a virtual version of the former HMNZS Wellington battleship will win a trip, along with three friends, to push a button that will blow up the real HMNZS Wellington which will then sink to become an artificial marine reef and diving attraction. The contest launched September 30 and Telecom 027 customers must register by October 9 to play the game.
$150,000 of other prizes will also be awarded, including a Sanyo 32-inch widescreen televisions, Sanyo T3G mobile phones, dive gear and courses, Microsoft X Box consoles, airtime credit and other prizes. The game finishes on 31 October with the winner announced thereafter, and the sinking will take place on November 12.
In true shrimp-on-the-barbie style, experiential agency TOUCH/CAST conceived the Push The Button promotion over a lazy Christmas Day Bar-B-Q at one of the employees homes.
As if watching FOX's The O.C. wasn't enough to whisk people into the fake world of Orange County's plastic wannabes, FOX has signed a licensing deal with game maker Gameloft to create a mobile game that, according to Gameloft president Michael Guillemont, will let players take on the role of one the the show's main characters, create an original character, join cliques, dress hip and generally go O.C. with their cell phones. That's all we need. More mindless Marissa pretenders. The game is set to release next year.
Giving Playboy some competition, Penthouse has secured $48 million in private funding to pursue an on-demand, subscription cable channel and wireless offering. After going bankrupt two years ago and morphing into a privately held company run by Marc Bell, Penthouse has toned down its raunchy image and plans to introduce more general, non-sexual content.
At London's Heathrow Airport Virgin Atlantic terminal Bluetooth transmitters are sending text messages to nearby cell phone users asking them if they want to view a video ad on their cell phone for the new Range Rover Sport SUV. Billboard company Maiden Group and technology company Filter UK have teamed to place transmitters in the airport along with 30 UK train stations. Only cell phone users who have Bluetooth capable phones will receive the text message asking if they want to view the ad. The program seems to have worked. In a two week test, 13,000 out of 87,000 Bluetooth-enabled phone owners opted to view the ad. At 15 percent, that's a pretty good success rate. The Wall Street Journal has more.
Extending its brand further into people's lives, Disney, using the Sprint network, will launch Disney Mobile, a cell phone service targeted t families with kids 11 to 14. Besides phone service, Disney Mobile will offer Disney-related content including ring tones based on familiar Disney songs, Disney branded phones, games and images. The service is set to launch in 2006.
Interspot has announced the beta launch of their SMS service which provides users free text messaging. The text messages are appended with ads which can be geo-targted. Mobile coupons will be offered as part of the service too.
While Commercial Alert's Gary Ruskin says, "Good luck," cell phone providers have adopted a set of guidelines, Consumer Best Practices Guidelines for Cross-Carrier Mobile Content Services, which is intended to place limits on marketer's use of the cell phone as an advertising medium. The guidelines call for double opt-in to promotions, how people are charged for air time and wording people can use to opt in or out of promotions. Even as the guidelines are adopted by all major U.S cell phone companies, Ruskin believes cell advertising will, none the less, proliferate and cause a backlash similar to those that have occurred in Europe where the medium is more established. Ruskin is particularly concerned over the guideline's allowance of opt-in list sale to third parties.