(left: Tarek Abdalla, head of marketing- MENA, Google. Right: Mike Glaser, manager of creative partnerships, Google.)
Tarek Abdalla, head of marketing -MENA, Google
How did the initiative for the Creative Sandbox at this year’s Dubai Lynx Awards come about?
The Creative Sandbox is an event format created by Google to engage creative audiences. It is an inspirational space with hands-on product demos and fun booths to combine product awareness and education with socializing, networking, and experimentation.
Can you tell us more about the technologies being displayed at the creative sandbox?
The creative sandbox hosted different interactive corners at the Lynx this year:
– The G+ photo booth, which brings the Auto Awesome feature of G+ to life by rendering people’s pictures into animated gifs.
– Art Copy & Code, a program that aims to shine a light on the addition of code to the traditional craft of art direction and copywriting. Burberry Kisses is an example of a partnership with Google that re-imagines how innovative technology can create beautiful and unique ad campaigns.
– Chrome Super Sync Sports, which allows up to four friends to compete in running, swimming and cycling games on a shared computer screen, using their smartphones or tablets as game controllers.
– YouTube Content Explorer, which celebrates the quality and diversity of content on YouTube and the amazing creativity and talent of local MENA content creators on the platform.
– YouTube Ads Leaderboard, which showcases the most creative ads that people choose to watch each month.
Are there any plans to roll out some of these technologies in the MENA region? if so, which ones?
All the technologies displayed at the Creative Sandbox like G+ Auto Awesome, Street View, Chrome Super Synx, Burberry Kisses and Ads Leaderboard are available for users in MENA.
Can you give use examples of the applications of the technologies displayed at the Creative Sandbox in work with clients?
The Burberry Kisses is an example of a brand campaign that reinvented its approach to luxury marketing and created an emotional connection through a visually immersive and interactive experience that allows users to send letters sealed with a virtual kiss to friends and loved ones across the globe. Another example is the Volkswagen Smileage, a social experiment that was inspired by a study that showed that 76% of people in the U.S spend an average of 52 minutes in the car alone. So, the purpose of this experiment was to make that time a more shareable experience. Users just have to sign with a Google account and the Smile Drive app will automatically connect whenever they’re in the car.
Could you tell us more about Google’s “7-Day brief” competition at this year’s Lynx, from the choice of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as the beneficiary organization to the number and quality of entries you received?
The Dubai Lynx decided to partner with the UNHCR this year, and we were happy to work closely with them in their charitable and humanitarian efforts. Working with the community is what makes this competition special: to use the power of the web and online video to share ideas and spread awareness.
The number of entries was up by ten-fold from last year. This speaks highly of the growing popularity of the competition on a regional level. We were very impressed by the quality and creativity of the films submitted this year. The top three winners were very original in their approach especially with the added challenge of attracting views in just five seconds – the time it takes to skip an ad on YouTube. The YouTube ‘skip ad button’ was used to drive the main message of the winning video. The entire shortlist of entries is available on the Dubai Lynx Official channel; I encourage everyone to take a look at all these amazing entries.
Mike Glaser, manager of creative partnerships at Google
Can you tell us more about Google’s Art, Copy & Code program and how it came about?
The marketing industry is rapidly evolving and, at Google, we’re very keen to better understand how we can utilize the advent of new tools and technologies to build brands effectively and efficiently. This requires an evolution to the way we work as an industry, and we created the Art, Copy & Code program to aim to shine a light on the addition of code to the traditional craft of art direction and copywriting, and to also explore new ways of working together.
Why create a specific program combining creativity and technology, given that Google’s direction over the past years has been the integration of technology and creativity across its solutions and products?
We want to invest more in technology and tools over the long term to help brands and their agencies succeed not just today, but in a digital future that will look very different.
Can you give some examples of campaigns from Art, Copy & Code?
We’ve worked with brands, agencies, filmmakers, and technologists, to explore how brands can connect with consumers through a whole range of digital tools—including ads, mobile apps and social experiences. One early partner project was the social driving platform Volkswagen SmileDrive, which was inspired by the automaker’s slogan, “It’s not the miles, it’s how you live them”. SmileDrive is a mobile app and web service that aims to add a little bit of fun to every drive, from daily commutes to holiday road trips. The app measures the fun factor of each trip using a metric called “Smile Score,” based on signals like weather, traffic, location, time and social interactions.
What are other brands leading the way in this program?
We have developed projects with familiar brands like Burberry and adidas—in partnership with their creative teams and agencies. Burberry is a key example of a brand that continues to reinvent its approach to marketing in the digital age. We partnered with Burberry and its internal creative team to develop Burberry Kisses, which helped create an emotional connection across devices and screens by allowing users to send virtual representations of a kiss to loved ones around the world.
What are the challenges Google faces in rolling out this program?
There is unlimited opportunity for invention when it comes to marketing in the digital age, making this surely a time of renaissance for our industry. We can nearly make whatever we want, with the insights to unlock new opportunities, the tools to build new experiences, and the channels to broadcast them to the world.
How is the program being rolled out in the region, if at all?
At Google, we have a number of ways to support brand building and creativity in the region, and look forward to partnering with brands and agencies to help re-imagine what’s possible in marketing for the digital age.