Don’t Stop at “Clever” — Turn Innovation Into Activation.

This very clever outdoor ad from Sweden leverages technology to “transcend the limits of the medium,” as one blogger at Mashable put it.  But we’d argue that it doesn’t transcend those limits nearly enough…which points to the difference between simply advertising (no matter how technically advanced) and activation marketing.

Apotek, a pharmacy brand, outfitted subway platform video panel ads in Stockholm with ultra-sonic sensors that could tell when a train was pulling into the station.  When the train arrived, the model’s mane flapped and flew in the breeze and she fought to keep it in place, paid off by the tagline, “Make your hair come alive.”


It grabs the attention of passers-by, certainly, and gets buzz in the trade press, but the investment here would have been even more fruitful if Apotek had created an extra level of interaction with those people — if they’d activated the encounter.

A smart or innovative technology spin on any consumer point-of-contact is an invaluable opportunity for a brand to push that momentary relationship with the consumer a little bit farther.  Putting an iBeacon-type Wifi streamer on these displays could have pushed an equally-clever app or animated offer to smartphone users, for instance, or given them a way to deepen their engagement with the ad — by changing the model, for example, or grabbing a digital coupon delivered via onscreen QR for hairspray.

Or simply asking them to re-post the ad to their own social media streams could have been part of an overall sweepstakes program where Apotek rewards consumers for spreading the buzz.


The long and the short of it is, awareness is increasingly not enough in today’s marketing melee. Once you’ve got their interest piqued, a brand or marketer needs to seize it and hold on for all they’re worth, and find fitting ways to transition it into activation.  Or else they’ve let a golden opportunity just fly by in the breeze…

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