Sanitarium says good-bye TV, hello Twitter with 3D All Blacks campaign

Having spent $1.3 million developing and printing new 3D, webcam-activated All Blacks trading cards, Sanitarium has decided not to spend $400,000 on a media campaign to promote them. Instead, the FMCG company is pinning its hopes on Twitter, Facebook and Bebo. [UPDATE: It's not going so well so far.]

“It’s a big risk, and I had to get it signed off by a lot of people,” Sanitarium senior brand manager Tanne Andrews told NBR. “But why should I spend $300,000 or $400,000 on media when I can reach all the kids through social networks?”

A $30,000 below-the-line campaign will see Weet-Bix push its new product through that Mr Andrews calls “the big four” social networks: Twitter, Facebook, Bebo and MySpace.

The hottest social network, Twitter, has no facility for paid advertising, but does allow companies to run accounts and tweet about their products.

However, there’s a thin line between using a company Twitter account to spark viral buzz and “astro-turfing” in which a commercial campaign and sham “fan” tweets falls on its face.

Mr Andrews calls his social networking play “a wake-up call for agencies, and a wake-up call for media. The market’s changing very quickly, and agencies have to respond.”

Guaranteed vs potential audience
Total Media GM Richard Thompson says he can see why Mr Andrews is targeting social networks. “The audience he’s aiming at is very young and online-savvy so having an online element makes a lot of sense”.

But the media buyer cautions that “a huge amount is spent on viral campaigns that never go viral. I would strongly advise any of our clients against relying exclusively on a viral campaign.”

The advantage of traditional media is that it guarantees an audience, says Mr Thompson, while any online ‘buzz’ strategy is more about potential eyeballs.

“If it doesn’t take off he’s not going to get very good ROI on his $1.3 million. The only people who’ll see it are those already buying the product.”

Made in France
The new Weet-Bix campaign, launched today at Auckland’s Eden Park with an event featuring Joe Rokocoko and Conrad Smith, is centred around a series of “3D cards”.

When 10 of the series of 43 cards are held up to a web-cam, they trigger a three-dimensional image of the relevant All Black to appear onscreen (see photo above). Fans can rotate the card held in front of the web cam, and the onscreen figure rotates in full-perspective.

This so-called “augmented reality” technology behind the cards, which blends real images with animation, was developed by Total Immersion, which has offices in the US and France, and Australian company Dreamscape.

In these parts, such technology is often the domain of Ian Taylor’s Animation Research or Taylor-made Productions.

“We would have loved to have worked with a New Zealand company,” Mr Andrews said.

But when Sanitarium first went looking for 3D card technology in October last year, Total Immersion and Dreamscape were the only ones to pitch - although three or four months later the company was inundated with proposals, Mr Andrews said.

The All Blacks are the first team to get “augmented reality” player cards after their debut in the US, where the technology was used in a series of baseball cards recently covered in The New York Times.


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16 Comments & Questions

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Well done on being so brave using only those media...hope it takes off and you get a decent lift in sales.

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In the last few years, the world has really changed:all the technical advances determined people to change their needs, their informational sources and most of the ways they have fun. Some of us even gave up regular phones for the <a rel="follow" href="http://www.888voipstore.com">VoIP Phone</a> system as it is cheaper and the quality of the call is way better. These are only a few examples of the big changes that occurred in the last few years, so it's really not a big surprise that all these new campaigns are launched over the internet instead of the old fashion communications channels, like TV or radio!

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I am not a 10 year old kid anymore but I don;t really see the point. So you collect 10, hold them upa nd see a picture a union player. Then what?

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I am not a 10 year old kid anymore but I don;t really see the point. So you collect 10, hold them upa nd see a picture a union player. Then what?

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Bless them - may their viral marketeering become a full-blown pandemic. May their infection be as devastatingly thorough as some mass-media agencies would have us believe Swine Flu is...

But I've got a better idea for Sanitarium: Instead of spending money in the two-year run-up to the World Cup trying 'convert' kids to a breakfast of Weetbix, why don't they try and convert other meals to being Weetbix-based...? Their slogans could be brilliant: "Come for Breakfast; Stay for Dinner...!"

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What the?

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Go for it - about time we take some bold steps and ditch the traditional media approach - it's the sales results that will tell the true story.

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The http://powerplays.weet-bix.co.nz/ website is an absolute abomination and whoever spent $1.3m on its development should be fired immediately.

Why? Let's see:
- Forcing my kids to register with their email and date of birth
- Requiring a confirmation email
- Requiring a download and install of an executable file
- Asking the kids to read a legalese EULA on the download
- Installing a second Microsoft C++ runtime library without asking
- Shockingly bad user interface on the plugin ("Camera Selected" button that when pressed selects a camera)
- The HTML Title tag on the webpage is "Splash". Google will never find the page

Whatever company they used knows NOTHING about usability, website design, or web marketing.

The website makes me angry. It makes me never want to buy WeetBix or be involved in NZ Rugby.

Shame on them.

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howd your latest pitch go Ben?

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What a hideous abuse of a potentially good idea - technology for technology's sake... You've spent a fortune on ruining the reputation of AR even further.
Congratulations Sanitarium! Not.

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Tanne Andrews you are a genius. That's right - bring it all in house - you are a cereal company after all. Of course you know more about marketing and social media than marketing and advertising agencies do. Of course you do.

If you did know anything about social media you'd know that it can be your friend but it can also be a very very nasty enemy. From reading comments on blogs and Twitter this morning I'd say that Sanitarium and social media are not getting along so well right now.

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You have to wonder that with such an astonishingly poor implementation of this technology, someone just balked at spending $400,000 on marketing their $1.3 million abomination and Mr Andrews was left to promote it for free. He's now trying to spin it as a leap forward in marketing...

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Maybe its just because I'm a parent, but surely with this sort of budget more thought could have gone into it?
1) Who were they targeting? I would have thought 7-12yr old boys, and how many of those are on Twitter/Facebook? Yet alone in a position to submit personal info and accept a license agreement.
2) What is the point of holding a card in front of a webcam just to see a video play? Given all of the drama in getting the damn thing working in the first place (if you're lucky) you'd be hoping for something better.
3) I heard that the marketing guy claimed he couldn't get this done in NZ - I thought there was a number of companies in NZ who are among the world leaders in this field (TVNZ even ran some stories on it a while back from memory). Maybe those companies just didn't want to walk the plank on this type of s___t campaign.

I imagine that not only is there an interesting chat between the marketing guy and his CEO about now, but a fair bit of damage control with the NZRU required. No wonder the All Blacks at the launch looked uncomfortable (it probably wasn't just the Aussie guy doing the spin, or the French company pocketing the cash).

If it were me - I'd be pulling the pin on this now because its only going to get worse as parents like me get involved in dealing with frustrated kids. Maybe that's why they didn't commit to an advertising spend.

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In the original story yesterday, I raised the possibility of a company like Dunedin's TaylorMade as a partner (as in the people behind the America's Cup graphics, the BlueBird penguins etc etc). Sanitarium said it would have loved to have worked with a New Zealand company but that at the time of its original tender (Oct last year) there were only overseas option available.

Note my original article says it was $1.3m for everything, including printing the cards. The website accounted for a relatively modest part of the budget ($20K). Perhaps it should have been larger.

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This sort of thing has already been done in NZ and has won acclaim and adv agency awards, and has been done much better, you just need to get advice. $20k is wrong number. Who decided on that number? Therein lies the problem.

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I think Sanitarium did a great job with the campaign for All Blacks. The colaboration with the <a rel="follow" href="http://www.auroracoast.com/">video production Philadelphia</a> Studio was a great ideea as the editing of the video was absolutly flowless!

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