Hands Off! The New Social Media Trend

With 1.4 billion smartphone users worldwide spending 91% of their mobile internet time engaged in social networking activities, brands have been encouraging consumers to get involved with them on social media platforms.

Yet interestingly, a recent trend (which is gaining momentum) has been to urge consumers to disengage from the online world and engage in the real world. Three recent campaigns have tapped into today’s adage that we “just can’t live without” our phones and have asked us to put our smartphones down – if only temporarily.

 Coca-Cola: The Social Media Guard




Consistent with Coca-Cola’s “share a moment” slogan, the ad features a ‘Social Media Guard’ that allows consumers to “share a real moment with Coca-Cola”. The funnel like Social Media Guard works by taking “the social out of media” and putting it back into your life, allowing users to keep their eyes on each other and their surrounding rather than on their phones. The campaign was wildly successful and was watched more than 2 million times in less than a week.

Tolga Cebe, the regional marketing manager for Coca-Cola Middle East, has acknowledged the success of the campaign, which came out of Memac Ogilvy Dubai. Cebe said, “we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the initial results, which reveal a very strong and positive sentiment from around the world and ironically highlight the global power of social media”. As well as recognising the irony in the campaign, Cebe notes the powerful role of digital in the lives of today’s consumer. “Millennials check their mobiles every few minutes and feel ‘naked’ if they leave them at home”.

Polar Beer: The Cell Phone Nullifier




Another campaign that encourages temporary disengagement from social media comes from Brazilian beer brand Polar Beer via Paim Comunicação. Using technology against technology, the ‘Cell Phone Nullifier’ was created to specifically target the use of smartphones in bars; a problem, which they say, is worldwide. The product is a beer cooler that cancels out all GSM, Wi-Fi, GPS, 3G and 4G signals within a five-foot radius. The device forces bar-goers to interact with their friends, not with their smart phones. The Cell Phone Nullifier enables people to “share a Polar Beer not a link”, bringing everybody “back to enjoy for real”.

Again, much like the Coca-Cola Social Media Guard, the campaign was an Internet success. Over 250 million people were impacted as the concept was talked about, liked and shared online (presumably after people had left the bar). The ad that promoted the nullifier was one of the top 10 most viewed in Brazil and generated an estimated $5 million in spontaneous media.

UNICEF Tap Project: Go Without Your Phone




This campaign is a little different in that the brand is a Not-For-Profit but even so, the app uses the same phone disengagement concept. The UNICEF Tap Project, which has run annually since 2007, works to raise funds and awareness for the 768 million people worldwide without access to clean water. To support this year’s project go onto the website (http://tap.unicefusa.org) using your smartphone, press start, and for every 10 minutes that you leave your phone alone, sponsors Giorgio Armani will donate enough to provide an impoverished child with clean water for a day. The app even provides encouragement to keep going and statistics on levels of smartphone use as you spend your 10 minutes phone free.

This year’s campaign, which comes out of ad shop Droga5 New York, engages people who think they can’t live without their smartphones and encourages them to help provide something that people really can’t live without. As well as allowing us to feel like we have done something good, the app will make you realise how many times you go to use your smartphone in just 10 minutes.

Faux-criticism of increasing smartphone use is nothing new, other products like Blokket (https://www.prote.in/en/feed/2013/05/blokket) and The Offline Glass (https://www.prote.in/en/feed/2013/06/the-offline-glass) are also based on our attachment to cellular devices. With a bit of wit and irony the above campaigns all work to start a conversation about smartphone use and the increasingly large role they play in our everyday lives. In a highly connected age the reality may be that having a website is no longer enough to grab consumers’ attention and more importantly affection. Using digital means to engage with consumers and change the way they act in the real world has proven to be hugely successful and has, ironically, gone viral. The Coca-Cola and Polar Beer campaigns especially, allow the brands to align themselves with good old-fashioned socialising that everyone can relate to – socialising while drinking their product of course.

With these campaigns we can all have a chuckle, take a nostalgic walk down memory lane to a time when the most exciting thing you could do on your phone was play snake. And then share the link with friends on Facebook.

Author: Kate Macdonald (Clemenger Graduate)