Marketing, and especially digital marketing, has become more than just connecting with consumers through different touch points. In today's high-tech world, it's all about gathering essential information for customers and automatically putting that information someplace where they can't miss it ... let's say, in front of their eyes. What better way to achieve that than through the lens of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) controversial yet disrupting pair of smart glasses?
Recently, design house Kenneth Cole teamed up with award-winning digital marketing agency Ready Set Rocket to promote the new Mankind fragrance. The "Man Up for Mankind Challenge" campaign is the first to feature a native Google Glass application, laying the groundwork for the revolution of digital marketing.
Using Google Glass for the greater good
Even though Google Glass taps into a small, niche client base, Ready Set Rocket and Kenneth Cole chose to focus on early adopters because they're considered as cutting-edge, and they fit well with the cologne's target audience. Ready Set Rocket developed an application that, once downloaded, "loads" a daily deed over a 21-day period. After completing each deed, the user can take a photo of the act and share it. "We saw people capture good deeds like sending notes to servicemen and women, buying strangers coffee and making monetary donations," partner of Ready Set Rocket Alex Lirtsman told me.
The agency found a groundbreaking way to utilize Glass for resonating with clients and delivering Cole's core marketing message while overcoming the myths that have been developed around this nascent technology. The $1,500 futuristic device, though still in prototype stage, has been greeted with skepticism, privacy concerns, and fierce criticism over its "nerdy" aesthetic.
Glass was successfully integrated into the campaign by creating a more humanized and positive experience for consumers, showing that this technology can be used to encourage acts of goodwill, rather than as an invasive gadget for the self-absorbed.
"It's about finding new and exciting ways to use this technology with a view to creating connected experiences with consumers' communities as opposed to creating self-consuming, self-contained experiences," Lirtsman explained to me.
Kenneth Cole's decision to leverage Glass's unique attributes in order to take communication with its customers to the next level did indeed bear fruit.
The campaign generated 11.3 million total impressions, 827,600 impressions for #manupformankind tag, and thousands of page views. By integrating an innovative digital extension to the Mankind fragrance campaign, Kenneth Cole was able to maximize awareness, visibility, and exposure among both men and women, which ultimately supported product sales. Kenneth Cole's Mankind sales exceeded sales goals and expectations, Lirtsman asserted.
The business ramifications
Google's policy prevents software developers from running in-app ads, which direct people to purchase links. So far, Google has shown no interest in injecting advertising into its wearable computing spectacles, giving advertisers and marketers a hard time.
Even so, what appears to be a challenge for marketers could actually be a blessing in disguise. Marketers and brands are driven to think outside the box when delivering a marketing message. In doing so, they create surprising experiences that enhance brand affinity and, in turn, increase propensity to purchase.
Kenneth Cole used Google Glass in a way that presented the brand's message comprehensively but without forcing consumers to buy the fragrance. Nevertheless, Kenneth Cole's key performing indicators and sales results topped expectations.
Slowly but surely, we are heading toward a wearable-tech ad future, where brands have no choice but to incorporate content marketing into different, unconventional contexts of technology. Glass offers a glimpse into this future by serving as a more-progressive communication platform. It enables brands to engage with consumers in a daring way while pushing the boundaries of marketing innovation.
Moreover, Google might get something out of it. The fact that Kenneth Cole encouraged consumers to use the Glass in order to make a difference in their community could do wonders with the gadget's public image. The Mankind campaign proved that Glass does not make wearers more self-consumed. On the contrary, it could motivate them to interact with the world around them.
In the past, digital marketing was confined to creating a website or running a paid search campaign. Today, it's about understanding the overall consumer ecosystem. To put it in other words, it's imperative that brands explore innovation within the digital space. Going forward, this is how they are going to shape competitive strategies. Google Glass and Glass-like devices prompt marketers to create advanced touch points and engaging experiences that build brand and business equity.
Looking ahead, "digital marketing is heading in a direction where there is no longer a difference between what lives in digital and what is purely offline, as most brand interactions don't live in a silo of one or the other," Lirtsman said. "Soon there will be no distinction between wearable tech and your everyday accessories or products. Your watch becomes a communication tool the same way that your phone is a communication tool. Your glasses become an extension of digital tools and blend seamlessly into your overall use of common products. They make your life simpler, and brands should own a piece of that experience."