ASB sends mobile treasure hunters on wild goose/iPad/alpaca chase

World-first alert! The next piece in the rather large ASB puzzle was released on Sunday, with 50 New Zealand consumers playing their part in what the campaign creators believe to be the world’s first-ever ‘mobile ad-venture’, an “immersive film” called Lost that was created to promote its new mobile banking services.

The lead character is a hapless screenwriter (@AlpacAndy on Twitter) who, with his ASB Personal Banker Luke Jackson (as with all Droga5’s new Creating Futures stories, Jackson is a real ASB staff member), sets out to find his lost iPad and ensure his pitch for the gripping romp, the tour de force that is Alpaca Avengers goes smoothly. The initiative is described as a “mobile advertisement for its mobile services to its mobile audience”. And it combines active participants interacting with real locations, social media and mobile devices.

The real life mobile ad-venture was filmed to produce an online video (which will be released on Monday 13 December on creatingfutures.co.nz) that tells the story of the digital initiative and how it came to be. The 50 participants started their search for Andy’s elusive iPad at ASB Ponsonby and, using their mobile devices and laptops, were shown clues on where to go next. The catch was that each clue-filled episode could only be watched in the location where it was filmed.

People outside Auckland or unable to make the real-life event were also able to participate via ‘Brainpower’, the digital version of the event, by heading to creatingfutures.co.nz and clicking ‘Lost’. They were then able to take part in an online version that replaced the location-based elements with a series of tricky questions specially tailored to nerds.

There were plenty of prizes up for grabs to reward those who were able to locate the lost iPad, including, as you would imagine, iPads, smartphones (provided by Vodafone) and a range of vouchers.

Twitter played a key role in recruiting the participants. And the episodes star a number of ‘social media personalities’, as well as a special guest appearance from Keisha Castle Hughes.

Deborah Simpson, ASB general manager brand and marketing says the treasure hunt was developed to support the recent launch of ASB’s mobile website together with enhanced internet banking optimised for smartphones.

“It’s part of our commitment to being where our customers are, also exemplified by the launch of our Virtual Branch on Facebook.”

It’s kind of like orienteering 2.0, and while orienteering isn’t cool, this is. It’s also a tangible example of some of the innovations that might be around the corner with the increase in smartphone usage in New Zealand allowing more location-based marketing campaigns. Still, on the whole, the creating futures campaign has received mixed reviews. The Sunday Star Times piece about a ‘flurry’ of complaints to the ASA about the IVF ad was a beat-up, but, as everyone knows, banks are sneaky and portraying a bank as nice and human is a pretty tough sell. It’s certainly created a point of difference from its competition, but not always in a good way. The rebrand was on the receiving end of Deborah Hill Cone in the Herald, who criticised ASB for patronising her with “presumptuous bank advertising with smiley faces exhorting me to build my future”. Judging from the comments on StopPress, it seems she’s not alone.

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