Stop Chasing Firsts and Start Making Bests: Mobile Marketing That Matters

Posted by Kate Jurras on Tue, Apr 10, 2012

brenna2 resized 600This is the third post in our mobile blog series. Throughout the month of April we'll be featuring posts from some of Boston's most expert thought leaders, answering these questions: "What's happening in mobile right now? What's coming soon?This post is by Brenna Hanly. Brenna has been at Mullen Boston for four years, where she has served in several digital capacities – as a Digital Media Planner for Zappos.com, as the agency’s first Mobile Catalyst, and currently she works out of the Strategic Planning group in an effort to bring comprehensive digital thinking to the forefront of the creative process.

We’ve become an industry infatuated with technology. From our superhuman worship of Steve Jobs to our scramble to hire the nation’s best creative technologists - anyone who is any good in the marketing industry cannot avoid thinking about, talking about, and dreaming about technology. However, we have been cajoled into confusing technology with true innovation.  We are quick to credit ourselves for being the first to take advantage of a certain technology without regard to the actual consumer experience that we are creating, and mobile is one of the best seductresses.

Ikea Brenna blog resized 600The recent AdAge article about Lexus’s print advertisement in Wired Magazine began with a statement about its first-to-market status; "As print publications continue seeking ways to entice advertisers, Wired magazine and Lexus have teamed up to create what they say is the first mass-produced print ad embedded with a near-field communications, or NFC, tag."

There are a slew of other brands that have received attention and credit for the same reason – Old Navy and the first Shazamable commercials, Doritos and the first Augmented Reality chip bags, Calvin Klein and the first oversized QR code billboards. In thinking more critically about these notable firsts, we need to question whether the experiences, not the technology behind them, are truly noteworthy. I’m not convinced that people really care about using an RFID chip in their phones to experiment with the mobile dashboard in Lexus cars, that they want to pause their DVR to play an Old Navy commercial so that they can download the song from the ad, or that they want to download a QR reader on their phone so that they can go out of their way to watch a Calvin Klein ad.

It’s always thrilling to be first, but isn’t that too easy? Doesn’t it require much more deliberation and creativity to produce something that is the best than to simply be quickest to act?  

In thinking about some of the best mobile marketing over the past year or two, few examples that come to mind are firsts. In fact, none of them are. The same rules apply to the best in mobile marketing as they always have to the best in marketing. The best stuff generally falls into two camps: truly magical (exceptional production quality or imaginative storytelling) or actually useful, and sometimes both. One of the best mobile marketing cases to date is the Volkswagen GTI mobile racing app. Despite the number of racing game apps already in the market, the energy, creativity and investment Volkswagen made to build the best consumer experience paid off in over 4 million downloads and attention from the market. And then there was the IKEA augmented reality mobile catalog, where consumers could use the app to see how furniture would actually look in their own houses. The usefulness of something like the IKEA app goes without saying, and in turn it became a winner of a 2011 Cannes lion.

If we want to create mobile marketing that matters, it’s time we stop chasing firsts and starting making the best mobile experiences for our customers.