Taming the ‘first screen’: Tom Eslinger on making mobile magic

Tom Eslinger, Saatchi & Saatchi’s global head of digital and social, returned to the New Zealand stage last week (albeit virtually) at Ad:Tech’s inaugural Auckland conference. And, beaming in over Skype from his hotel room in Singapore, he shared a concentrated dose of the secrets to mobile marketing contained in his book Mobile Magic, which was released earlier this year.


As the first jury president/co-architect of the mobile Lions category at Cannes and creator of mobile ideas since the early 2000s, Eslinger can legitimately claim to know his stuff when it comes to the “first screen”. At the core of successful mobile marketing, he says is M.I.S.T.

“Think mobile, intimate, social and transactional and you’ll get yourself into the right headspace for making and running great campaigns. These are the qualities that consumers want from their mobile devices. Every aspect of your marketing should centre around these keys.”


Eslinger went on to identify the common traits of truly great mobile ideas and offered guidance for those looking to create their own.

1) Place the customer firmly at the centre of the experience. Mobile is the most personal of all the screens, a live channel to your consumer. Make sure you’re designing with them in mind.

2) Combine commonly used technology and tools. Build on existing habits and behaviours don’t ask people to learn something new.

3) Make the experience high utility and highly entertaining.

4) Be super easy to share and be simple. Don’t over complicate it. Be succinct in what you’re trying to communicate.

Leading mobile work shared from around the world included ‘Meat Pack Hijack‘ from Saatchi & Saatchi Guatemala, VICE ‘Mutesic‘ (S&S China), ‘Tag the Weather‘ by S&S Sweden for Gillette and the New Zealand Defence Force’s ‘Force Fit’ mobile fitness app created by S&S NZ and Roam Creative.

Eslinger’s parting words of advice: “Surprise them with something that is blindingly simple. Remember that great technology is no excuse for a bad idea. And finally, make it magic.”

  • Isobel Kerr-Newell is communications director at Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand. 

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