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August 6, 2008

GOOGLE GOES LIVE:The search giant turns to experiential to drive mobile services

When word got round that internet search giant Google was set to appoint its first below-the-line agency to help raise awareness of its Google Mobile Services, there was considerable interest from the marketing community, as this is a brand not known for it’s forays into conventional advertising. The agency was finally unveiled as London-based experiential agency Sense.

The company was tasked with producing a campaign to raise awareness of Google Maps for mobile (GMM). And ense has recently completed a series of activities that ran for seven days over two weeks in July, across parks and squares in central London, as well as some of the bigger parks in the outer lying reaches of the UK capital.


Sum of the squares: Google Maps
hits central London with Sense

The activities centred around the use of brand ambassadors going out to members of the public and giving them demonstrations of GMM in action. Consumers were shown a range of software capabilities, for example finding ‘My Location’, or selecting directions to find your chosen destination. As well as this, brand ambassadors would explain that GMM is free to download, and that customers just paid their network provider’s data transfer rates to use it.

Brand in the hand
“Our ambassadors encouraged consumers to use their own phones to download the GMM software, providing them with the necessary info to experience GMM for themselve,” says Sense’s director Louise Fairhurst. “Teams were also supplied with wearable hypertag systems allowing consumers to link to the Google Maps software via Bluetooth message. To further engage consumers free natural ice lollies were provided as a gift from Google in the hot weather."

The physical activity areas were marked out with a large red map pin (the same as the one used to mark your location in Google Maps), an array of Google coloured beanbags and a subtly branded Google ice-cream cart.

“The most important part of these activities was the face to face interaction,” explains Fairhurst. “This is the first time Google has got involved with any sort of one to one activity so the interaction needed to be relevant to the audience and the brand.”

Up, up and away
Initial figures suggest that the events were a success, producing a double-digit uplift in registration for GMM during the times when Sense was running its face to face activities. Interestingly, the agency also had teams handing cards out to people with a call to action for them to access the services themselves at a later date if they had limited time, but this had far less impact.

“The demonstrations really seem to have been the key to this,” says Fairhurst. “This is getting back to the core power of experiential activity: getting away from the clutter of corporate messaging, putting the product into people’s hands and getting them to experience it for themselves. And the fact that it produced a significant surge in registrations further emphasises the success of this type of activity.”

Fairhurst concludes: “With having these activities mostly based at lunchtime and targeting young professionals, handing out the ice lollies was a great way of us saying: ‘Thank you for your time, now have a gift from Google.'”


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