Whenever someone wins big at Cannes, people take note (mostly to see if they can copycat the winning technique).

Google’s win at the recent Cannes Mobile Grand Prix, the contest’s inaugural year, reinforces two important findings. Digital marketing is about engagement … and  gamification works.

In a particularly creative move, Google submitted a mobile display ad that digitally reinterprets Coca Cola’s 40-year old classic, “I want to buy the world a Coke.” By selecting a city to send the Coke, writing a message and pressing a button – a drink is dispensed at one of the specially designed vending machines in a handful of cities. The receivers at the machine can then send a thank you message back to the sender, right from the vending machine.

The ad proves gamification can be as simple as buying someone on the other side of the world a Coke – for nothing other than a “feel good” reward. The lesson for digital marketers: think outcome, reward – result. Users need a payoff to engage with you – not unlike a game.

FYI, Google recruited creative teams from Grow Interactive and Johannes Leonardo New York to digitally re-invent a number of classic ads from top marketers, using engagement techniques inherent to mobile devices (convenience, speed, ease of use .. things that make a better experience).

Google’s win was a very close call – tying with Toyota’s “Backseat Driver” campaign (a tie-breaker vote was cast from the jury, tipping the award to Google). Toyota’s adapp offers kids in the back seat a driving game. Using GPS it lets them experience firsthand mom and dad’s driving skills (or lack thereof) in real time.

Hopefully it won’t turn them into the kind of backseat drivers we find annoying …

Cannes jury chair Tom Eslinger summed up the competition perfectly saying, “Where does the product end and the marketing begin? For a lot of things, advertising is the actual product.”

See the project brief here http://www.projectrebrief.com/coke/#page=new

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