How creative digital agency, Gravity Jack, partnered with one of America’s most timeless names to create the future of brand engagement
In today’s world of major corporations, it’s not uncommon that any substantial need of a major company is brought “in house.” This can be done for any number of reasons (including the bottom line, protection of the brand, and more) but when this occurs, brands risk losing a very valuable perspective: A fresh one.
At Kraft Foods, one of the world’s largest and most established and well-known brands, the approach is entirely different.
The team at Kraft is responsible for running one of the most established organizations in the world — and, if you’ve kept any kind of an eye on the company’s stock over the past 5 years (here’s a hint: it’s going well), you’ll see their staff of nearly 23,000 do a fantastic job. When it came time for the brand to re-strategize for the future, however, they came to a massive realization: Very little (if anything) was being done to capitalize on one of the single largest, fastest growing, most brand-valuable platforms in the world.
A platform, literally at consumers’ hip for 16 hours each day — not to mention, in the palm of their hands a whopping 6 hours a day. A platform where communication is instant, engagement is more valuable than ever, and commerce grows exponentially each year. A platform called “digital.” Specifically, mobile — and Kraft realized they were missing out on a great opportunity and needed an approach.
Many companies the size of Kraft would have created a department internally, or worse, commissioned an existing, sort of related department to adjust and learn what needed to be done — desperately hoping that the makeshift team magically becomes part-time mobile developers, designers and user experience visionaries — only to play catch up for years, before coming to an all-too-common tough realization: Experts may be needed and forever resort to a bitter claim of “we tried digital.”
Kraft, and arguably one of their most beloved brands, Oscar Mayer, had a far different approach. Seeing the importance and the urgency in not only establishing a plan, but executing with expertise and proven experience, Oscar Mayer, supported by Kraft’s ‘Innovation’ team, approached America’s 30 top, most established creative digital agencies and firms — and asked one primary question:
“If we gave you complete freedom and support, how would you build the ultimate Wienermobile digital strategy?”
That was seriously it! It was a blank canvas. A badge of warranted trust. A chance to go wild — or, more professionally speaking, a golden opportunity to bring a major, blue chip brand into the future of consumer engagement.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
On the evening of October 23rd, 2013, a sales lead came to our team like many others do — through our website (www.gravityjack.com), dropping into the inboxes of our team. Instantly, we began imagining the creative possibilities — especially with such a well-known brand. It was nothing short of exciting, but in order to help lead a brand into the future, you must be aware of its past and the culture that defines every decision made. The first step was meeting with both Oscar Mayer and Kraft’s innovation team, for an introductory meeting. In that meeting they advised that we were one of the 30 agencies being considered as a potential partner for a revolutionary new project, for the iconic brand! They expressed basic needs and gave us a few very high-level suggestions of what they had in mind. Then, they set us free!
An effective strategy of any kind isn’t all just “mac and cheese.” It takes hard work and a core level of understanding for the mission, values and goals from the most grounded-level of the ‘front lines.’
Luckily for us, Oscar Mayer’s ‘front lines’ just happened to be driving through the area that week! The world-famous Oscar Mayer Wienermobile Hot Doggers, a team responsible for some of the biggest smiles and most timeless interactions with Kraft Foods consumers, was poised to make a stop just 10 minutes west of our hometown, in Spokane, WA. What most agencies might overlook, we saw as an opportunity to connect, at a face-to-face level with those who are on the ground, for our newest potential client.
We didn’t go in barking consultation, with the goal of making a long-term client — but rather, started with our focus on making friends and understanding that we were offering to become a part of their culture — not the other way around.
We sent out a company-wide calendar invite, letting our entire team know that we’d be taking a field trip. A trip to a big hot dog, parked in the middle of a grocery store parking lot (which so happened to also be in the pouring rain).
Most importantly, a trip to meet our new best friends!
HOT DOG, WE GET ALONG!
Nearly our entire team was able to make the trip, and we ended up immersed in conversation with the Hot Dogger team, discussing their favorite parts of the job, the tough parts of being on the road for weeks on end, and some of the most common questions they get from visitors and fans — just like us!
We left the conversation, Oscar Mayer whistles in-hand, and our team agreed that it seemed like there were a few main answers that everyone who visits the Wienermobile wants to know:
- When will the Wienermobile be near me?
- Can I drive the Wienermobile?
- How do I get it to come to my event — or house?!
We knew there were other agencies who had the chance to prove themselves, just like us, and we were up for the challenge! The team banded together. How could we answer the three questions that we felt were critical, in a new, engaging way that both parents and kids would want to use?
We brewed a cafeteria-sized pot of (Maxwell House, of course) coffee and got to work! Our business development got to strategizing, our creative director assembled the designers and our marketers began pulling the pieces together. The solution that the our team came up with not only needed to entertain, inform and meet the needs of loyal Oscar Mayer customers, but it needed to introduce the future in a way that skillfully aligned with one of America’s most timeless, historic brands. The result was a completely transparent, honest and excited explanation of our team, abilities, expertise and passion for amazing software and digital campaigns.
THE PROPOSED SOLUTION
The proposed solution was the Wienermobile app for iOS & Android devices — a digital adventure that not only enriched the on-site Wienermobile and Hot Dogger experience but achieved the following:
- Created a need to physically pick up and interact with Oscar Mayer products.
- Created an app that both parents and children use — and gain value from.
- Gamified product indoctrination, making brand interactions — actually fun!
- Used cutting-edge augmented reality and computer vision where it made sense, and provided value — rather than forcing in elements for gimmicky purposes.
The proposal was selected to be presented to Kraft Executives, at their headquarters in Wisconsin, alongside other agencies and teams. So, we packed our bags in early December and made our way to Kraft Town!
Our team was in the zone! They presented with flying colors — and the best part? It turned out that the very same three foundational questions that we left the Hot Dogger team considering (and founded our proposal on), were not only the hands down biggest questions asked of all time, but happened to be key metrics for Kraft’s determination of the winner!
It was a bullseye, called out in the presentation by one of Kraft’s highest executives. They were amazed that in the short amount of time we had, we somehow managed to dive in and understand their culture and team experience enough to come to such foundational components.
Our proposed solution answered every single one of the three questions, and then some. We ended up signing a statement of work in less than a week.
Winning the Kraft Foods & Oscar Mayer partnership was exciting, but at Gravity Jack, we don’t pride ourselves on just great ideas. Every great idea is just that — an idea — without expert execution.
We started by creating the first ever Wienermobile mobile game, completely from scratch, allowing fans and users to, for the first time ever, drive and even upgrade the most famous vehicle in the world.
Our 3D artists painstakingly modeled and texturized (‘digitally painted’) the 3D Wienermobile, the shiny rims and the engine boost upgrades. Our game designers built the scenes — and we even called on our own development team to voice the custom sound effects!
While, to users, it may seem all fun and games, the development process presented a wide range of challenges to ensure the gameplay, features and branding all remained consistent and loyal to the Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands.
Once complete, the game answered the first of the three questions everyone was asking, but to respond to the others, we relied on a technology new to mainstream marketing, but extremely familiar (native, in fact) to Gravity Jack — augmented reality.
Using only a mobile device’s camera within the app, users are able to scan the sky anywhere they may be, and see floating Wienermobiles, that display precisely where the Hot Dogger team will be in the coming weeks and months. Rather than a timetable or calendar, this method allowed users to experience a technology most had never seen before, while at the same time engaging directly with the Oscar Mayer brand — quite literally, surrounding them with the Oscar Mayer brand.
Our final mission was to allow users to host the Wienermobile at their home or event — a challenge indeed. How do we take one vehicle, and ensure it is available to be virtually everywhere, at anytime?
The answer was right under our nose. We would do it — virtually!
To achieve our goal, we once again implemented state of the art augmented reality technology, allowing the Wienermobile to instantly be overlaid onto a live feed, from the devices camera. Users simply pinch, zoom, size and spin the vehicle within the scene, until the world-famous Wienermobile is parked perfectly.
Once ready, users capture the photo with just a tap — Even sharing on social media!
Once the Wienermobile project successfully met the goals of the Hot Dogger team, we began the process of ensuring that the project met the product goals of the Kraft brand. After all, with such an investment, a brand as experienced as Oscar Mayer set very clear, ambitious metrics for success. They included things like:
- More product engagement
- Increased brand awareness
- Of course, boosted sales!
To help with these, we integrated an object recognition capability allowing the app to double as a visual scanner. Using this feature, parents are able to scan select Oscar Mayer packages, earning ‘Wienerbucks’ that unlock upgrades, vehicle additions and more — creating, for Kraft, a digital currency with limitless potential in the future.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS & GOALS
We’re proud to say that the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile app not only met every single metric assigned by Kraft Foods, but exceeded them on a wide range of factors. The project continues to be a shining success, earning press from AdWeek, Yahoo!, Boston Globe and even being featured in lights, in the middle of Times Square! It’s a perfect example of what can happen when a timeless brand, fearless of the future teams with a lean, agile and creative team, fueled on execution. Our relationship (and innovation) continues, in collaboration with the Kraft brands to this day.
Together, Kraft Foods & Gravity Jack Accomplished
3 Key Goals That Have Never Been Done Before:
- Integrated augmented reality & computer vision technologies together, in a non-gimmicky, relevant way.
- Gamified a real world product experience, while still engaging a wide range of demographics
- Created a mobile solution, engaging to both parents and children.
For more information on the Kraft Foods Group & Oscar Mayer relationship, or to discuss a project of your own with the Gravity Jack team, please feel free to contact us using the form below, or send us an email at email@example.com!