Analysis of Print Ads with Mobile: Part 1

The May issue of Wired magazine (the printed version) was of special interest to me. Within the few pages at the front of the magazine, there were 4 full-page ads (one was a two-page spread) for major consumer brands, each featuring different mobile response methods to entice readers to engage further on their smartphones.
I found this very interesting for a couple of different reasons.
First, the ads demonstrated still-rare diversity in thinking among brands (and their agencies) on how to best encourage consumers to engage through their mobile devices – through SMS, QR codes, MS Tag, and/or Google Goggles. The second reason I found this interesting is these four ads represented a microcosm of the continuing challenges brands face in getting mobile response right. Some elements were executed extremely well, while some fell short in leveraging the capability of mobile to its full potential.

Over the course of a series of posts, I’ll provide my review of each of the four ads. Let’s start with Volkswagen.

VW uses SMS

The first of the four was VW’s full page ad for the 2011 Touareg Hybrid, just opposite the Wired table of contents page. Bucking the recent trends of brands throwing around QR codes with abandon, VW’s mobile response offering was through SMS. The very simple and well-worded call to action: (below) “See the story behind the Touareg supercharged hybrid. Text HYBRID3 to 892277 to unlock the video.”

When the key word is texted to VW’s short code, the response is equally well worded and offers a link to the video, as well as the option to opt-in for additional messaging. “The all-new Touareg Hybrid is a Rare Beast. See its origin, anatomy & habitat: http://m.vw.com/hybrid. Reply Y to stay in the loop. Msg & data rates may apply.”

VW is making the most of SMS knowing this allows the greatest potential audience to interact via their mobile device. Even though the received SMS message links to a mobile web site (on the right) (which limits the potential audience to those with a suitable device and broadband connection), I like the additional option to continue the engagement through SMS alone. All too often SMS is abandoned too early by brands in their haste to transfer users to a mobile web page or device app.

Here’s the downfall: there is no harmony between the print ad, the SMS messaging, and the mobile site. The CTA in the print ad talks about how to “unlock the video.” The SMS response refers to a “Rare Beast with an origin, anatomy, and habitat.” These are safari-like themes that are non-existent in the print ad. And the worst element of the execution is the mobile web site linked from the SMS contains neither a video nor any reference to a Beast whatsoever. It is a very mild, very information-filled, and very mobile-optimized page for the Touareg within VW’s mobile site. I would have been happy to find this mobile web page in any other circumstance. But since I was promised a video, and then promised something exotic and safari-themed, the resulting web experience was far different than what I was expecting, and therefore disappointing. While each of these tactics – print, SMS and mobile web – is itself very well executed each seems to be part of separate campaigns that were hastily or wrongly threaded together.

Stay tuned for reviews of the other ads! And feel free to add your thoughts below.

4 Comments
  1. Bryce,
    Very insightful article; I loved your line about “throwing around QR codes with abandon.”
    Although we focus on a different aspect of the marketing realm than Knotice, we always need to focus on message and brand consistency, while making sure our solutions are integrated with the overall marketing and brand strategies.
    It’s not an easy task, and I can see how the lack of consistency can make for a jarring consumer experience.
    Looking forward to the rest of your series,
    Vince

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