A phone that translates what you say into any language? It comes with a built-in mini projector for presentations and movies? It also doubles as a harmonica?
That’s where the features of the Pomegranate Phone start to draw skepticism from people. But the features that follow leave no doubt that this is a gag-ad. The ad showcases the phone as a personal shaver and mobile personal coffee brewer.
Thus begins Nova Scotia’s latest, slickest, and most expensive endeavour into using new media and social networking to pass the message of the ‘Come To Life‘ campaign to their unsuspecting target market. The viral campaign peddles this ‘it does everything’ phone with all the might that a $300K advertising budget can provide. Yet it seems that the jury is still out on the effectiveness of this campaign.
Visit the website by clicking the image below. Or see the videos below.
- Art Director: Dan Couto
- Copy writer/creative director: Albert Ianni
- Production Manager: Collette Snow
- Designers: Andrew Grantham, Michael Gatto
- Internal Programmer: Melissa Castle
- External programmers/designers: Breathe Media
- Production/Post: Egg Films/Hatch Post
- Actors/Models: Christopher Killam, Lita Lewellen, John Beale, Laura Bleasdale, Andrea Wilson, Pasha, ?Others?
The impossible-made-possible features of this phone are not so far fetched. In early 2007, I reviewed a new product by an Israel-based technology company that produced a pocket projector device not unlike the built-in fantasy projector showcased for the Pom. The Explay Nano Projector is effectively the world’s smallest consumer projector and was planned to launch to market in 2008. The company was working on providing the technology as OEM for cell phone and camera manufacturers to incorporate into future devices. Click picture below to visit their website.
Similarly, the voice translation function currently exists, though the technology is not fit for seamless speech recognition yet (only phrase by phrase). Devices combining voice recognition and translation software are a dime a dozen. A simple speech-to-speech voice recognition translator can be bought from Ectaco for a little under $400 CDN. The software itself is available for installation on smart phones.
Last but not least, a hybrid musical instrument phone was recently launched by Japan’s Kddi in collaboration with Yamaha. See my review of this technology here. It can be played as a harmonica, trumpet, flute, and various other instruments.
The campaign can be said to have three components:
- The medium
- The message
- The actual product it peddles.
A great viral campaign by Bristol, Hatch, and Breathe. World class, really. It achieves the desired effect of getting people to pass around the url to give their friends and colleagues a quick chuckle. The campaign was implemented in Boston, Toronto, Calgary, and Ottawa. On Tuesday of last week, 200 pomegranates (the fruit, not the phone) containing the url (pomegranatephone.com) were passed around to people by street teams in Boston, Ottawa, and Toronto during their morning commute.
Yet, there appears to be a disconnect from the Pom site and the site containing the client’s message. It’s as if two different companies were hired, one for the flashy viral campaign, and another for the Come To Life mini-site.
Here is where it gets tricky. Critics of this campaign point to how the message is hard to locate in this viral. Even when you do get to the mini-site containing the video clips that are meant to pitch Nova Scotia to the target market, there appears to be a disconnect between the demographic target of the videos and the demographic target of the Pom’s viral.
The Pom’s viral appeals to a tech-savvy younger demographic that spends a lot of time on the internet and enjoys passing around virals. Other demographics that spend a lot of time on the internet and pass around junk mail and viral videos are employees, stay at home parents, and teenagers without much to do.
Yet, Bristol notes that the key demographic they are after is “influencers and business leaders in key markets”, a group that usually stays on top of trends and the latest in technology.
Bristol is correct in that influencers and business leaders stay on top of technology and trends. However, perhaps a fatal flaw here is that the Pom phone is neither a new technology nor a trend, so it would be of little interest to business leaders to visit the site or forward to their contacts. It is just a gag site, and we have already established who is attracted to gag sites. Leaders and influencers are too busy leading and influencing to spend time checking out gag sites.
So, ultimately, the main visitors that ended up on the site were teenagers from around the world, and expat young professionals who out-migrated from Nova Scotia seeking opportunities in other Canadian or international cities. They clicked, they chuckled, some sent it to their friends.
Some followed the viral into the Nova Scotia Come To Life message, and were disappointed. The video testimonials mainly showcase entrepreneurs, doctors, and enterprises. No representative age group was showcased doing the things these expats fled the province to do elsewhere. This brings us to the third and final component of this campaign.
Regardless of how flashy the packaging is, the sale ultimately relies on the product itself. Does the product deliver as advertised? Is it reliable? Ultimately, the expat demographic left Nova Scotia for a reason. They are aware of the challenges, and are in touch with the motherland enough to know if these challenges have been overcome by the province/city or not.
So, you want people to ‘Come To Life’ in Nova Scotia? Many believe all Nova Scotia has to do is actually provide the product they are peddling, not just market a false image with pretty packaging and slick marketing. What if HRM City Council actually spent time implementing this fantastic 5-year Economic Strategy they came up with in 2005?
I will leave you with this MSN conversation between me and one such expat that might shed light on what I mean (look! He is using technology too!)
Jeff Lohnes graduated from Saint Mary’s University with an excellent record in student leadership and community involvement. Shortly after, he left for Toronto, where he currently works for the National Speakers Bureau as a Youth Market specialist.