Downtime is Uptime

About three weeks ago I was told about an interesting campaign Tesco’s renamed to Homeplus had run in Korea. The magnitude of the idea and its activation only hit home about a week later, once I received a video link from Neels’ Bester. In this case seeing was understanding! The idea is relatively simple – utilise traditional advertising space to provision virtual retail isles that consumers can shop in using QR code enabled smart phones.  The campaign put together by Cheil ( a worldwide advertising company won an award at the Cannes Lions International festival for media. This brought the campaign to the attention of my wife who works in the advertising industry. After discussing the idea we came to the conclusion that it was really interesting for the following reasons:

1.       It captures and utilises key consumer insights into the core value proposition

2.       Blends the offline and online world in a very seamless manner

3.       Integrates existing technology , consumer communications and retail shopping in a commercially viable and measurable way

4.       Creatively integrates not used before mechanisms to create a new retail genre

5.       Enhances the incumbent online retail shopping business model

6.       Utilises the smart phone investments already made by consumers

The campaign is more than a clever communications “stunt”. It offers a very practical way to scale the online shopping model. At its core it effectively makes downtime uptime, solving simultaneously the double dread of waiting for something and having to invest some of your precious time shopping. The walls mimic reality enabling an online experience in a very familiar offline manner.

As with many smart ideas it combines previously desperate elements into something new, making categorisation a little trickier. Is this an outdoor advertising, merchandising, retail or technology play and does it even matter. The ideas execution required communications, retail and technology smarts to work.

Lastly, this is great example of design thinking in action. Solving a real-world problem in a creative, relevant and useful way utilising an interesting combination of raw materials.