Friday, 20 August 2010

Benetton uses Foursquare to promote store re-launch event

Last night I was finishing a post on Facebook Places & Location Based Services (LBS) when I noticed that the flagship Benetton store at Oxford Circus (London) was using Foursquare to promote a store event. Had I been following their Twitter stream I'd have heard about it rather than tripping over it.

Curious digital womble that I am, as it was only down the road I thought I'd go and investigate as it's the first time I've noticed:

a) Foursquare featuring "special" places (as it was flagged if you look closely at the image) and

b) any major brand using Foursquare in this way (in the UK at any rate, there are lots of examples floating around, mostly from the US, including GAP offering a 25%  discount if you checked-in to one of their stores this week (not sure if it's US only or global, not tried).

Walking into the store, there was a buzzy chaos - masses of people queuing for photoshoots, and waiters walking around with trays of drinks. I checked in.

I admit I initially missed this single piece of Foursquare signage directing me to the first floor. So I  asked a member of staff, showing her my check in  and she was nice but clearly hadn't been briefed at all or had the foggiest clue what FourSquare was, but eventually she just sent me upstairs suggesting I ask someone up there where it was a little less chaotic.

Upstairs, I finally found a member of the store management who equally wasn't really clued about the Foursquare promotion, even though I later discovered she was standing about 10 feet from this, the only other piece of instore signage I could see....

That said,  she was very nice and after showing her my check-in screen and explaining she handed over the goody-bag that everyone else got if they bought something (which inevitably I did later anyway).

I didn't quite go as far as a "haul" video (watch this as a randomly selected example),that I know are all the rage but here's what it contained:
  • A (branded) fold up re-usable shopping bag (nice eco touch, & very handy)
  • A bottle of Benetton Woman perfume (generously full size even!)
  • A Benetton mug
  • Some stickers
  • An eye mask
  • A lanyard
  • Some multi-coloured felt-tip pens
  • A magazine highlighting the results of web-based casting competition they ran earlier in the year to find the faces of the Fall/Winter 2010/11 product advertising (more on that shortly)

I'm not much of a clutter-junkie, but I recognise that some thought (and value) had gone into the contents, and for doing nothing more than heading into store and checking in, you'd have to be pretty cynical not to appreciate the freebies.

How successful was the Foursquare initiative?

Good question, I was there just before 8pm, and my Foursquare screen showed that 19 people (+me) had checked-in over the last 2 hours. Arguably it could be a greater number than that, as not everyone chooses to make their check-ins visible, and who knows whether they were just the geeky & curious or whether like me they came out having spent the best part of £100 in store as well.

Those are not big numbers, and it's impossible to guess at how many went purely as a result of seeing that "special" flag when they went to check-in to somewhere else nearby.Then again if that was 20 more people who potentially wouldn't have gone in otherwise, and walked out with something free that made them feel good about the brand, (everyone loves free stuff as we all know) and/or had spent money instore,  that has to be worth something, although I wonder how much they had to pay Foursquare?

Assuming at least some of those people link their Foursquare account to Twitter +/or Facebook then there's also a fair chance that the" Fiona checked in at United Colours of Benetton" type messages will have reached a fair few others via organic impressions through featuring in Facebook news/tweetstreams, which may only have served as a mental nudge or a brand endorsement to those friends/followers seeing the message, which is impossible to attribute hard ROI to, but again has to count for something.

Nice try Benetton. It's good to see brands experimenting in new spaces.

Back to the "It's my time" Benetton Global casting competition then...  I'd seen it earlier in the year and admittedly promptly forgotten about it. I'd much rather be behind the camera than in front!

The magazine in my goody bag showcased the initiative, the results and the winners

  • 5-6 week campaign which ran Feb-mid-March 2010
  • Asked people to upload images / videos answering the questions"who are you, what makes you unique" & a chance to feature as one of the faces of the a/w product advertising.
  • 65k people from over 210 countries entered
  • 40k+ women (almost twice as many as men)
  • 17k teenagers
  • 35k 20-30 somethings
  • 8k 30+'s
  • Over 5 million comments on the blog in 5 weeks 
  • Initiative supported on MTV & with print ads with Augmented Reality feature
  • The community voted for the Top 100 submissions, and the final 20 winners selected by an expert panel
I think the who entered stats are revealing and interesting. The digital age divide between digital native and digital immigrants isn't black and white, but these figures still suggest how much more comfortable & prepared to participate and contribute the sub 30's are on the whole.

I should think Benetton are pretty pleased with their efforts and the results.

Rather a shame though that the last post on the blog was from July, because it seems like they've built up a relationship, however loose, with a lot of people putting their hand up and saying they are interested in the brand, and Benetton are now just letting it flail.  These initiatives are great, but they need thinking about beyond the defined period they are designated as "live" for.

As my friend John Wilshire wrote in a great thought piece this week it's not about creating short shelf life ideas anymore, but about ideas that contribute to the company / brand purpose whilst maintaining both an ability to evolve in a relevant fashion, and, provide a reason for people to participate / talk about them. (And that's an extremely short and horribly overly simplistic way to describe John's great article so I'd highly recommend you mosey over and read it.)

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