Jennifer O'Grady - Head of Agency

Head of Agency

The ‘internet of things’ is set to be worth £9.5tm by 2020.  But what is it and how will extend our ability to get people talking?

The idea is based on enabling products with an internet chip that communicate with the manufacturer as well as other objects in the owner’s home.  For the consumer this means the dawn of smart solutions such as intelligent fridges that know when something needs restocking.  For manufacturers it provides a way of better understanding exactly how people use its products.

It’s not as futuristic as it sounds.  While Google’s motivational shoes, which kicked up a storm last month, is for many a step(!) too far, Adidas has successfully launched miCoach, a range which incorporates wearable electronic coaching aids to help improve the user’s sporting performance, while encouraging them to use digital platforms to compare themselves with others.  Adidas is therefore providing a service while learning how they might further help the consumer along their sporting journey.

For PR, the technology underlining the ‘internet of things’ provides us with a fantastic way to engage consumers beyond the point of sale, if the idea is creative enough – ultimately ensuring we are integral to our clients’ understanding of their audience.

A great example was a project trailed by Diageo in Brazil.  Building a bespoke platform to make their whisky bottles smart, they launched a Father’s Day campaign that enabled anyone who bought a bottle of Johnnie Walker, Buchanan’s and Old Parr to personalise a film tribute to their dad.  Unlike QR codes which broadcast one message, the platform ensured a bespoke greeting was gifted to every recipient.  Furthermore both the gifter and receiver could share the content socially and opt into CRM programmes.

As a result 100,000 bottles were transformed from static assets into one-of-a-kind owned pieces of digital media that delivered entertainment and brand information.

Was it expensive? Probably and to bring the ‘internet of things’ to life, the technology does need to become cost effective both for the brand and how it’s passed onto the consumer, before it can ever become mainstream.

Furthermore in a post-Leveson era brands need to ensure people’s privacy won’t be breached.

However for us, this represents an exciting digital frontier which we and our brave brands can explore as pioneers.