What’s On

Out of thin air, butterflies appear

Rohit Dadwal, MMA

Mobile marketing technology is at its best when it is the most charming, and the most human. Imagine looking at the screen of your mobile phone, and seeing, butterflies magically appear, virtual butterflies that do not exist in the real world, and then using your mobile phone like a net to catch them. Dentsu Singapore has launched a mobile campaign that let you do just that, called iButterfly.[1]

The app uses the phone’s built-in camera to let users look at the world around them, and paints in virtual butterflies that flap and flutter around. Users can make a sweeping motion to catch any butterflies that they see in a virtual net, and aside from collecting them, can also trade the butterflies in for discounts, special offers and lucky draw chances.

The iButterfly mobile app was developed in-house by Dentsu Inc, and has had recent success in various countries around Asia, such as Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. Uniquely Asian, the iButterfly platform lends itself quite easily to marketers who want to leverage the technology to deliver marketing material in a fun, interactive way to consumers.

The app utilises three different technologies – GPS, augmented reality and motion-sensing – to deliver this complete experience, although all of that happens behind the scenes, so to speak. To the user, it is pure magic as the incredible virtual butterflies appear and fly around.

The app is actually of great value, since marketers can deliver iButterfly coupons that are time-limited, location-based, or limited in number, and competitions can be based on collecting complete sets of butterflies, or have butterflies available only in particular locations so that consumers have to quite literally hunt them down.

This is a great example of mobile marketing at its best, acting as an intermediary between the consumer and an imaginary world, delivering marketing material in a playful, painless fashion. We can hope to see more of these as time goes on, and as consumers become more used to such experiences.

Apps like these take advantage not only of people’s curiosity and delight, but also turn mobile use into a game. Playing games is one of the mobile channels great strengths – it is so easy to deliver a game to consumers in the form of an app, or an interactive website – and no other media can take advantage of gaming quite so easily. Online has similar capability, but mobile has the advantage of letting users play games during the inbetween times, when waiting in line, or while riding the bus or train home.

Gamification is a strong driver for mobile marketing, and one of the channel’s great strengths. It is exciting to see how else mobile marketing can create unique, special experiences for consumers – the next mobile phenomena may just be something as simple, and as magical, as catching butterflies.

[1] Dentsu Singapore Unveils Mobile AR Campaign, http://www.asiamediajournal.com/pressrelease.php?id=4318

Rohit Dadwal

The author, Rohit Dadwal, is the Managing Director of Mobile Marketing Association APAC.