Maytag, ESPN get creative with mobile ads

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON HARBOR — A Whirlpool home appliance brand brought a new spin to its one-day takeover of ESPN’s mobile site Monday.

By incorporating haptic technology into its ad, Maytag synchronized viewer devices with the video’s more powerful moments.

The multi-sensory mobile ad features the Maytag Man – as a Maytag appliance or machine – being built in a factory. The ad takes place in an industrial environment, accompanied by a lot of sound that adds to the atmosphere of the Maytag Man being assembled.

“The setting for this ad is a factory, much like our own factories in Ohio where our laundry appliances are designed, engineered and assembled,” said Brendan Bosch, senior brand manager at Maytag. “As a result, there are lots of mechanical sounds already happening as the machines are being built, which lend themselves perfectly to haptic technology to give the viewer the sense they are in the factory, too.”

Android users who visited ESPN’s mobile site Monday were able to view the Maytag Man commercial, which depicted factory workers assembling a multitude of versions of the famous spokesmen instead of home appliances.

As the machines in the video move, smartphone users could feel their device sputter along with the scene playing out in front of them. The haptic technology enabled cue points to be embedded within the clip, so users would feel whatever the Maytag Man does.

Haptic technology recreates the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations or motions to the user.

For example, if a drill in the video rumbled, a consumer’s phone would shake in their hands and provide a similar jolt from the drill. The vibrations were synced with content to gives viewers an experience that goes beyond what regular advertisements offer.

“This ad incorporates haptic technology, which gives viewers a multi-sensory viewing experience,” Bosch said. “Not only are they seeing and hearing the ad, but they’re also feeling vibrations during key moments, which makes them feel more like they are ‘part’ of the ad. The haptic technology was a great fit for amplifying that drama with a tactile enhancement of the phone vibrating.”

The haptic technology was used for one 60-second mobile ad, available only on Android phones.

As for the reason why Maytag chose to do this for one day, Bosch said a home page takeover across ESPN’s mobile website allowed Maytag and its advertising team to gauge how well it brought traffic to their site.

“(We wanted) to scale the haptic experience across a platform that we know reaches our target consumer,” Bosch said. “Plus, on the heels of our sponsorship with MLB, the ESPN audience is familiar with our campaign.”

Bosch did not say if Maytag’s collaboration with ESPN was a one-time experience, but that it is an avenue they are pursuing since more users are visiting Maytag’s website through mobile devices and tablets.

“We want to make sure we’re reaching those consumers as part of our integrated marketing approach,” Bosch said. “The ultimate goal has always been to tell our story to consumers in the most impactful way, and we will continue to look for media partners who share the passion for our brand story.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Nov. 18, 2015)

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