It all started with Mathijs Kraai and Bas Uytdenhouwen, who had set a goal for themselves to graduate from the Communication & Multimedia Design programme at the Avans University in The Netherlands in a spectacular manner. In contrary to the individually performed internship and thesis, the ‘free project’ offered the option to form a team and formulate a worthy project to graduate with.
Mathijs’ and Bas’ first task was obvious: finding the best and most ambitious Communication & Multimedia students of our year. It didn’t take long for us to get Bart van Delft on board, who Mathijs and Bas recently did a project with for Philips Design. They also followed a half year long minor program with him at the University of Twente.
Mathijs and Bas both chose the specialization Interaction Strategy, which focuses on strategic aspects of campaigns, but also on marketing, management and concept development. Bart chose Information & Interaction, with which he specializes on converting the above to the real world.
After the first brainstorm session, organized before the project itself had started, the three decided to present themselves to the ‘real world’ and potential employers in a highly distinct and unique way.
Even though there were no concrete plans yet, they realised that designers should not be lacking in this project group. Hence, the search for new blood continued, which resulted in hooking up with Hester Naaktgeboren and Jeroen Bijl. Both of them have specialized in Multimedial Design, and it shows. The composition of this group that would operate under the name ‘De vijf van morgen’ (The five of tomorrow) was born.
As soon as we consolidated our formation we started thinking about diverse ways to position ourselves on the labor market. Our aim was to put ourselves on the map as young professionals that possess all the specific competences our branch requires of us.
We decided to piece together a cross medial media offensive in the form of a hoax. As soon as media attention would reach its peak, we would make our entry as the main players in this spectacular play.
To accomplish this we would use unconventional means of advertising. These not only have the advance that they can be adjusted to the practically inexistent budget, but also that they, if used properly, will spread themselves.
In essence, the concept consisted of a stealth campaign we developed to create positive publicity for a randomly chosen company. This campaign would be executed completely independently, without notifying the company itself. Basically, we made free advertisement.
After generating a certain amount of publicity for the ‘real’ campaign, we will step out from the shade and present ourselves as the brain behind this action.
By using this technique we wanted to prove to be capable of developing an effective campaign for any company, any product and any message.
Choice of company
The choice for the company we developed our campaign for was the result of three phases. First, we selected a number of companies from all kinds of countries and branches. This includes widely known and a few local companies.
After that, we quickly analysed these companies to determine the general information of the company, main products, markets, recent advertisements and the look and feel.
Lastly, we had to make a choice. In style with the project we chose our own method: a cork pin board with printed logos of the thirteen companies taped to it. A dart from the blind folded Hester struck the Logitech logo, our lucky winner.
During the extensive analysis of Logitech and its products, we automatically looked at the computer mice that Logitech has been developing since 1982. It is obvious that Logitech has been very innovative in this field and still continues today with enhancing their mice with new technologies.
One of these technologies is the MicroGear TM Precision Scroll Wheel, which Logitech patented and introduced in 2006. This allows the user to switch the mouse wheel to ‘free wheel’, removing the clicks after each scroll. Not only does this result in much more precise scrolling, it is also up to fifty times as fast.
We found this aspect of Logitech very interesting, and combined with the fact that they frequently aim their products at gamers, we decided to base our campaign on it.
The complexity of this project lead us to separate it into three phases. Each phase will have its own identity and goal. In phase one our primary goal was to generate exposure which could later be connected to Logitech. We decided to do this by using one of the primary features of Logitech’s new generation of mice and making it excel in the eyes of the public. In order to do this, we developed an online game called the “Scroll Wheel Challenge”. This game challenged people to use their mouse wheel to scroll as fast as possible in thirty seconds. Each ‘click’ in the mouse wheel registered as one ‘scroll’, which was used to calculate an average of ‘scrolls per second’. After the thirty second long challenge, players could submit their score to compare it with others.
Because of our analysis, we were convinced that Logitech mice with the previously mentioned MicroGear™ Precision Scroll Wheel would win the competition with a huge advantage to its competitors. This would cause them to be noticed, because they would constantly fill the top positions on the high score list.
By giving players the option to challenge their friends to beat their score and being able to sort the high score list by mouse type, we encouraged players to keep on playing even without a new Logitech mouse.
For the real fanatics who were enthusiastic more than they were fast, we created a secondary competition, ‘Style’. The ‘Style Award’ was all about scrolling in original ways, filming or photographing this, and sending it to us. The winner of this competition was determined by votes from visitors to the scroll wheel challenge website. Competitors were given full freedom to use any hardware to enhance their score, which resulted in the most ingenious constructions with electric drills, treadmills and mountain bikes. Our research indicated that these methods would only participate for top speed if used in combination with a Logitech or other specific gaming mouse. This is caused by a limit on the scrolling speed that can be registered by regular mice, which is way too low to compete for top speed.
With the international ambitions of the group, especially Hester and Bas, who are applying for universities in Madrid and Milan respectively, it was an easy choice to aim the game and the website, www.scrollwheelchallenge.com, at the international market. Hence, the site was in English and the bulk of our promotion was international.
This promotion had to be done with a minimal budget. We did this by approaching popular weblogs and internet communities. Next to that, we created a promotional video and a bunch of other viral videos to put on YouTube, hoping for a snowball effect to occur.
We also had a bunch of analog promotional material. In one and a half weeks time we spread around 2500 stickers and an equal numbers of flyers across the country. We handed them out, amongst other places, on Utrecht central station and put them in free newspapers in trains. Our last method of promotion was a third, smaller competition called ‘Spread the word’. We asked visitors from all over the word to download, print out and photograph our promotional material on a great spot, specific to the country they live in. These pictures were then placed on the www.scrollwheelchallenge.com website.
The website was a direct hit. Over 50,000 unique visitors from over a hundred countries caused 2,5 million hits. An important moment for us was placing the game on one of the largest Adobe Flash communities in the world, New Grounds. It worked out well, the game was received with enthusiasm. It scored a 7,8/10 and 3,66/5, which labeled it as an ‘awesome game’. In the end, the Scroll Wheel Challenge was linked to from over 750 websites.
Some quotes from user reviews on New Grounds:
“Yet one of the greatest Flash games on the internet! Great fun! Lets people think of creative ways to get a really high score!” – Cheesio, March 31, 2009, NewGrounds.com
“Strangely addictive. Very good!” – Aidmum, 31 maart 2009, NewGrounds.com
“Brilliant! I’m in love with this game. Less is more!” – FlashGameFanatic, March 31, 2009, NewGrounds.com
After having received many visitors, players and submissions, it was time for phase two in the project. Two weeks after launching the Scroll Wheel Challenge it was time for Logitech to come into play in this trilogy.
Upon reaching the deadline for the ‘first season’ of the Scroll Wheel Challenge, the winners of the most important award, ‘Speed’, confirmed our analysis. Players with new Logitech mice occupied eight out of the ten highest positions and the same for places eleven through twenty. The enormous traffic on the website made it exciting down to the wire for players in the top ten. After all, they would receive a small amount of prize money. On Tuesday, 7th of April 2009, at noon GMT (2pm local time), the moment was finally there: the winners would be presented and the new season announced. This is exactly what we did, however, with a twist.
The Scroll Wheel Challenge website had completely transformed from the bright and shining orange colors to an official Logitech website. The winners were proudly announced along with, of course, the brand and type of mouse they had achieved their score with. The brand new commercial layout of the website presented the winning mouse models, its specifics, prices and a link to the related product page on the official Logitech website.
The website also offered a press release in which ‘Logitech’ announced its involvement and explained the many participants and the new season. This new season promised new and great prizes, amongst which the new Logitech G9x. Not completely accidentally had the little brother of this mouse, the Logitech G9, won the competition because of the MicroGear™ Precision Scroll Wheel:
“The new Logitech G9x Laser Mouse will make its first appearance on the American and European markets this month. This model has improved at almost every aspect compared to its winning brother, the Logitech G9 Laser Mouse.” – 7th of April 2009, www.scrollwheelchallenge.com/logitech/press.php
The primary goal of phase two was to be noticed by advertising- and marketing weblogs, to get one step closer to the ultimate target group, advertising and graphical design bureaus. Unknowingly that we were behind it all, Andrew S. Lennon, CEO of Red Anchor Media, mentioned: “Sounds like a pretty crafty campaign”, adding that he would dedicate an article to it next week. Unfortunately for us, this would also be one week too late for phase two, but it’s a great compliment nonetheless. A similar reaction came from Matthijs van den Broek, editor of Marketingfacts and freelance journalist for amongst others De Pers and Bizz: “I wonder what the deal is exactly, so I’ll dig into it. But it’s definitely interesting for Marketingfacts.”.
Rabbit out of the hat
Finally, it was our turn. On Friday 10th of April 2009, the day our most loyal scrollers returned for the new season and advertising- and marketing blogs who were keeping an eye on us, we changed our layout and identity one last time. This time, to our own, De vijf van morgen, Hester Naaktgeboren, Jeroen Bijl, Bart van Delft, Mathijs Kraai and Bas Uytdenhouwen. Pleased to meet you.
During the last couple of weeks we had been watched by 50,000 people. Whether they were interested in the game, the supposed Logitech campaign or our actual project, we managed to pique interest and kept on surprising. Comments from experts in our field have, so far, been very positive. Logitech has never contacted us up until today, which is probably a good thing. After all, we deliberately took the risk to use and copy their good name and identity. Although, from minute one, we have done everything we could to represent and promote the terminal values from the Logitech brand in the best way possible.
Undoubtedly to be continued. - www.devijfvanmorgen.nl