By Malay Desai
From: Energy BBDO Shanghai
A new campaign of timeout Magazine shanghai began when a phone was planted on a sidewalk in the city, waiting to be picked up by a passer-by. Once the ‘lucky’ person gets it, a team begins communicating with him/her and them to a treasure hunt of sorts. The messages on the phone ask them to act as per instructions, such as get into a special cab, and lead them on to oncoming surprises in various parts of the city. The tour visits peculiar, lesser-known markets and restaurants of the city, a live performance and winds up at a club. The under three-minute marketing video of the activity ends with the timeout shanghai logo.
Why we like
The world’s favourite local culture guide, TimeOut is published in over 40 cities and has long been the pick of discerning citizens to discover more. But ‘discerning few’ isn’t a good number if you’re its circulation and ad sales department.
Like many print publications in the past decade, TOtoo has inched uncomfortably closer to the ‘all digital’ eventuality.TO Chicago did it this April and apparently, this is an attempt by Shanghai to make a splash about its existence and earn more readers. To tell potential readers great stories about their city is one thing, to do an outdoor, interactive stunt quite another. The latter is a marketing tactic where a lay person’s surprise makes for intriguing viewing. It’s been used perfectly here and the explanatory video has been cut well to transfer the string of ‘wow’ moments the people in it are going through.
Every city has its secrets, its lesser known troves where even locals love to indulge. This day-long activity of pushing unknowing folks in a fascinating treasure hunt is clever. By showing off places and events such as the best street food market or a unique live performance or an intriguing museum, the initiative is simply showing off the mag’s authority.
‘We know your city more than anyone else’ is the editorial slant of TO’s editions everywhere, and this is a fair adaptation of that for marketing. The point is not to surprise these lucky people, but it’s to charm the potential readers into buying the magand go beyond the obvious. Backed by a conventional campaign and word of mouth, this would’ve got TO rich attention.
Then of course, the question arises if this campaign was real. Which passerby finding a phone will act as per instructions in this age of terrorism? Also, what was a London cab doing in all this? We’re cynical about the former. Either way, here’s a fun case study for all print products (whether facing extinction or not) – think local and surprise your potential customer.
To watch this film, feed this link into your browser goo.gl/rudkS