If you were wondering where that bright floodlight was coming from that was beaming up into Auckland’s night sky was last weekend, well look no further. It was merely ANZ, marking the launch of the next phase of its Olympic campaign, which has seen the release a TVC via True and new app that allows users to send Olympians messages through the stars (yes, you read correctly).
That beam of light, that emanated from the ANZ Tower in Auckland last weekend, which (without initial context) lent itself to Batman references, was actually symbolic of the Olympic torch.
The ANZ team decided to send up the beam because the torch won’t be coming to New Zealand, says ANZ head of corporate marketing and sponsorship Sue Mcgregor.
“It fitted well with that positioning of sending a message to the stars and of the creative in the app,” she says.
“We thought we would launch the campaign with that because it works nice as a talking point, it’s pretty cost effective and it drives talkability … Starting that chapter and bringing it to life before we bring it into the full mix.”
But the main focal point for this next iteration of its Olympic campaign is its app, which features in ANZ’s latest TVC by True, due to hit screens on 17 July.
The TVC follows a similar format to the last one in which athletes each recite a line of poetry. The point of difference, however, is the promotion of the app, with shots of the athletes holding their mobiles up to the night sky and reading messages in the stars.
The app (available on Android and iPhone) by ANZ and the New Zealand Olympic Committee, and developed by Gladeye, uses technology similar to that of a stargazer app, says Mcgregor.
“It’s using augmented reality and you can hold the phone up to the sky and when athletes hit a star they can see if a New Zealander has left a message. And the New Zealander can see when the athletes respond.”
She says ANZ wanted a more direct way of giving athletes a message, rather than using social media platforms.
The app also features personalised alarm clock reminders for games, medal notifications, personalised schedules and results services. Users can also check out the New Zealand medal table, follow an athlete's progress throughout the games and receive video clips of the winning moments.
“You’ll be able to wake up in the morning and have notifications over night, so it’s really focused on what people would want from the app to be able to connect New Zealanders to Olympians,” she says.
“There’s also a lot of personal information on the back end so you can identify with the athletes because it’s quite a bit team. So, it’s nice to see who they all are and what their backgrounds are as quite a lot they are competing overseas in different competitions so they’re not as identifiable.”
She says ANZ is working closely with NZOC to make sure the app will run smoothly when the games begin. “The main info gets pulled through the NZOC database like the scheduling information because it plugs into their system.”
NZOC social media manager Alex Spence said in a release through the committee's social channels that it's seen significant levels of engagement from New Zealanders in the build-up to Rio. "We know Kiwis are excited about the Olympic Games and thanks to ANZ, the New Zealand Olympic Team app is set to bring us a new level in personalised contact with the athletes. In return, athletes can connect with New Zealanders, thanking them for their support."
Mcgregor says though it only launched this time last week, it’s already had close to 2,000 downloads without a lot of promotional activity.
There’s a lot of clutter in the sponsorship space, and Mcgregor says it tries to focus on providing a genuine role of support as its point of difference.
“You’re not just doing a sponsor message because that’s when you get clutter. With cricket and rugby our message was around dream delivery. But with the Olympics we didn’t feel like we could do the same sort of thing so we found a slightly different role which still fits in with Dream Big and aspiration,” she says.
“We had to find a different way of bringing that tangible role back to New Zealand and that’s why I felt that providing something like that app with those functionalities did that, because it’s a connector.”
Whether it will be successful is down to wait and see, she says. “But if it is useful and valuable for people it should be successful.”
As a interesting aside, sophisticated apps based around sporting events seem to be becoming more and more common.
For example, last year, there was an official Rugby World Cup app with news, a full schedule, push notifications and a “Dream Team” game to keep users occupied. Users could also personalise it to the country they were following. Similar apps were also launched for the ICC Cricket World Cup and most recently the FIFA World Cup.