They’ve got the whole bridge in their hands: 2degrees and Special Group get set to light up Auckland

2degrees is attempting a fairly difficult telco trick at the moment as it tries to morph from a challenger brand with lots of low value customers into a grown-up company that’s more appealing to the high-rollers—and it could be argued its agency Special Group is on a similar trajectory as it evolves from a small indie with small clients into a serious multi-national network that’s competing with the bigg’uns. And now the pair are set to launch a very grown-up stunt to celebrate Auckland’s 175th anniversary, its new phone plans and the launch of Samsung’s new Galaxy S6 by turning the Auckland Harbour Bridge into an interactive light show

In the style of some of the more progressive recent marketing ideas where the real and the digital worlds collide, such as Sky and DDB’s Bring Down the King, the bridge is set to become a giant mobile, musical plaything that moves to music chosen by the public.

The bridge will be lit up by over two kilometres of LED lights, which are all hooked up to Google Play Music (like Spark and Spotify or Vodafone and Sky, 2degrees is also offering media sweeteners and gave three-month plans to Google Play away when it launched the service back in November). To get involved, punters just need to go to playthebridge.co.nz and choose from over 30 million songs and the light show is then synched to the music. 

As well as seeing it in the flesh from various vantage points (there’s even an interactive kiosk at Silo Park), the performances can also be watched via live stream, with the music playing through the mobile device. It’s also asking those who do take part to share the idea, the selection, the the finished performance to the music, and shots of the bridge. 

“This is a brilliant example of just what you can do with mobiles now,” says Trent Harnett, 2degrees head of marketing communications. “Kiwis from anywhere in the country, and the world for that matter, can Play the Bridge and see it come to life on their mobile or device.” 

The Auckland Harbour Bridge already has a couple of clip-ons, but over 1,000 LED light tubes with almost 50,000 light bulbs were shipped from Sydney (that city’s Vivid Light Festival is also a sight to behold and the Sydney Harbour Bridge is regularly lit up) and bridge lanes were officially closed in the early hours of the morning for one week to allow Sydney-based lighting company 32 Hundred Lighting to climb up and install the lights by hand.

There are plenty of moving, quite technical parts to this campaign and plenty of different parties involved, including NZTA, ATEED, Google, Samsung and music labels Sony, Warner and Universal, so there’s a high degree of difficulty. But Special Group says the project, which has been six months in the making, has been a real team effort and a great collaborative project (it also worked with production partner Gladeye). 

2degrees’ current campaign, ​which pushes its ‘Pay Monthly’ plans and is one of the first not to feature quirky New Zealand comedian Rhys Darby, reflects the different ways mobiles devices are being used these days. And its research shows that using mobile to make a call is down to the fifth most common use. 

That’s why the plans have the best data offering in the market. Play the Bridge just takes this to a whole new level,” says Special Group creative partner Tony Bradbourne. “… It is a huge project. And it’s taken ages to pull off. I now know why it’s been grey for 56 years.” 

The 2degrees Play the Bridge will light up the harbour every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night from 8pm until 11:30pm for a seven week period to 25 April. The first lightshow will take place tonight. 

But if the powers that be have any sense, they’ll leave them there, hook them up to something like Philips Hue and set them to go off whenever the All Blacks score a try, a bus arrives on time or John Key leaves his house to visit his local cafe. 

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