Commuters play virtual fetch

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Beneful emphasized the importance of play by allowing commuters to interact with virtual dogs
Beneful emphasized the importance of play by allowing commuters to interact with virtual dogs

The Offer: With design help from digital agency Inwindow Outdoor, Beneful created digital dog parks in five cities across the U.S., including one in New York's Columbus Circle subway station. A 64-foot interactive wall was erected, complete with three-dimensional cameras and gesture recognition technology. When a commuter walked past one of the massive screens, a digital doggy detected the movement and scurried up to play catch with a yellow tennis ball. Straphangers were able to customize the look of their dog — size, color, tail length — and have photos taken with their made-to-order pet, which could then be delivered to a smartphone via text or shared on Facebook and Twitter.

The Data: Passers-by could choose from roughly 30 different dog “looks.” The New York installation was up throughout May.

The Channel: The interactive billboards were the culmination of a wider integrated campaign that included TV spots produced by Fallon, Beneful's agency of record. On May 1, street teams in New York distributed free flying discs and Beneful-branded yellow tennis balls.

The Creative: The campaign's goal was to demonstrate the importance of “play” on the mental and physical health of both owner and pet. The digital pooches were instilled with artificial intelligence to allow them to show emotion and engage with users in life-like ways. The dogs could playfully roll over, paw at the screen, roll on virtual grass and participate in a lively game of fetch.

The Verdict:

Flora Caputo is VP and executive creative director at Jacobs Agency. A working mom, Caputo is also a prolific blogger on domestic topics, such as gardening, baking and crafts. Her client roster runs the b-to-b and b-to-c gamut, from Kraft Foods and Kellogg's to Accenture and Microsoft. Read our Q&A with Flora for more.

Bow-wow. This is truly an awesome technological feat. Beneful has created an interactive brand experience while making an emotional connection with consumers in a place where you would least expect it. It taps into the essence of Beneful's positioning, which supports nurturing your dog, from nutrition to your relationship.

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