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Case study: Successful engagement with emerging technology

Jeremy Hollister
Case study: Successful engagement with emerging technology Jeremy Hollister

Founded in 2002 by designer Paul Budnitz, Kidrobot is the premier creator of limited-edition art toys and apparel. In collaboration with many of the world's most talented artists and designers, its toys blend sculpture, popular art, and exclusivity to create a highly collectible and often extremely rare product.

Co-author Nichole East is marketing manager for Kidrobot.

To promote the launch of its new Dunny Series toys, Kidrobot worked with creative studio We Are Plus to develop a non-traditional marketing campaign using social media, mobile technology and apps, and guerilla street teams.

Coined the Dunny Hunt NYC '09, the five-day campaign took place one week prior to the formal launch of the toys. The campaign guided participants on a virtual and physical scavenger hunt across downtown Manhattan. Hunters used their smartphones to scan quick response (QR) codes on specially designed promotional materials to become eligible for daily prizes and the grand prize (a full set of the 2009 Dunny Series).

Kidrobot collected numerous online media impressions that spanned from niche titles to global mainstream marketing publications. Meanwhile, on the streets of NYC, the Dunny Hunt '09 campaign engaged more than 500 hardcore Kidrobot fans and played a significant role in driving sales at the company's ecommerce site and retail store.

The challenge
We knew that Kidrobot's trendsetting first-adopter culture would not react to a typical direct response campaign. With more than 20,000 subscribers on Twitter alone, Kidrobot fans are part of a generation that uses the internet, mobile phones, and word of mouth to communicate with each other and the brands they follow.

With the annual Dunny Series release, Kidrobot has continued to put a lot of energy and thought into finding fun, intriguing promotions that engage its fans and invite active participation. "Kidrobot is known for its toys, clothing, and store design," explained Budnitz. "But more than anything else, Kidrobot is a community and cultural experience. We're constantly finding new ways to involve our community in what we do."

For We Are Plus, the biggest challenge was working across the blend of different platforms to bring a new mobile technology into the final creative and strategic solution.

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Good Dunny hunting
In Japan, where smartphone technology adoption is much higher than most parts of the world, QR codes have become a common method for marketers to distribute information as part of promotional campaigns. 

However, in the U.S. and many other countries that have been slower to adopt such technologies, a growing number of companies have been able leverage the new technology to differentiate themselves from competitors and attract consumers in smart, engaging ways.

During the weeks prior to the campaign's launch, We Are Plus developed a smartphone-optimized microsite with the backend technologies necessary to administrate the scavenger hunt. Embedded links in the QR codes were used to register hunters, deliver the daily prizes, and manage data for further interactions. In the meantime, campaign elements created by Kidrobot's artists, managing editor Mike Klar and his colleagues, were printed and disseminated by the Kidrobot street teams.

On launch day, Kidrobot distributed daily clues through a number of social media outlets, including its email newsletter, website, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, to maintain a constant interaction with the players on their quests to win the ultimate prize.

Since the QR codes could easily be featured on stickers, T-shirts, billboards, flyers, and even on the back of pedicabs, they were posted all over downtown Manhattan, sometimes in surprising places.

The results
The success of the Dunny Hunt NYC '09 contributed to a 45 percent increase in sales at Kidrobot's New York retail store, compared to its previous Dunny Series release in 2008.

During the promotion, there were 400 click-throughs from the Dunny Hunt microsite that directed visitors back to the Kidrobot ecommerce site, and there were more than 2,000 hits on the Kidrobot message board related to the Dunny Hunt.

Highlights of the campaign's media exposure included coverage in Fast Company, Creativity Magazine, MediaPost, PSFK.com, Brain Magazine, and many other prominent outlets around the world. In total, 4,300 hits on Dunny Hunt related articles connected to the Kidrobot site.

Kidrobot and We Are Plus were very excited at the level of participation in the Dunny Hunt NYC '09 campaign. Everyone's hard work was validated by numerous requests from fans all over the world who wanted to bring the scavenger hunt to their home cities.

Building upon the cultural movement that Kidrobot has created, We Are Plus recognized that the company's fans would be excited to participate in an interactive, tech-centric campaign that would take them on a journey to collect their favorite toys.

With Kidrobot's products appearing in more than 1,000 stores worldwide, and additional store-galleries in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, and London, the Dunny Hunt NYC '09 was viewed by Budnitz as version 1.0. By virtue of its success, plans are currently shaping up to strategically roll the Dunny Hunt out in multiple cities in the months ahead.

Jeremy Hollister is founder and creative director of We Are Plus, and Nichole East is marketing manager for Kidrobot.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.


to leave comments.

Commenter: Roger Darnell

2010, January 27

Many thanks from everyone at We Are Plus and Kidrobot for taking an interest in this project.

Sincerely -- Roger D.

DWA for We Are Plus