September 11th, 2009
Today we launched Red Bull Crowdcast, which, as far as I know, is the first time a global brand has handed over the keys of live casting an event to the audience, allowing them to show their vision of the event in real time.
The idea sprang from looking at some of the ways that we share information today, the immediacy and the ease of it. Posting to your blog can be done by email, uploading to the cloud can be achieved with a simple iPhone App. Within the last coulpe of years we have progressed from storing all our images, text and videos on computers at home or at work, to storing and interacting with most of our media in shared environments online.
Here in Japan the primary way to share information is via the mobile phone. Even in a country where iPhone has a mere 1% market share (my estimate based on what I have heard on the street), data manipulation is mature and flat rate data plans mean that sending large files, images and videos is a reality, not a dream of what will be.
Taking these keys I came up with a concept that my team at USN has been wonderful in making into a reality. Based around Red Bull events (this time Red Bull Sound Clash), you can email your images to our special event email address and they are dropped into the event stream. Email on mobile phones in Japan has been a standard feature since the beginning and often acts as the primary email address for many Japanese people. It is a natural interface to participation. The time from sending your email to appearing on the stream can be as little as 5-10 seconds, so the reward for participation is almost immediate.
You can then watch the stream via the mobile or the PC websites allowing both people at the event and people sitting at home or at the office to tune in and watch the live images of the event come in real time.
What is most interesting to me, and what is so great about having a client like Red Bull who is willing to push some conventions, is how you can let your audience or consumer carry your voice. This is a scary thing for an established brand to do. Brands spend so much time protecting their image and attempting to control their public perception, that handing over some of that control can be scary indeed for an old school marketeer.
However, this really is just the continuation of an ongoing media evolution. Remember, it was once scary for newspaper websites to start accepting non-moderated comments on their articles. Today, it is expected and normal to have a public space to voice potentially opposing opinions.
What a brand can gain by taking this step is another level of mutual trust and respect I am working with my clients to achieve. By showing trust to your consumer, by telling them that their voice matters and responding to that voice, we can build a relationship with the consumer that has the potential to be closer and much more long lasting, but we also start a conversation that helps to learn about what satisfies our consumer.
Now, our little photo stream may not look like a place for social commentary, but what people send and the way they send it can teach us wonderful things about how we do our jobs as the ones attempting to fulfil their needs and wants.
You can check out Red Bull Crowdcast’s archive for Red Bull Sound Clash online, and also we plan to use it again at the upcoming Red Bull Box Cart Race where you can try it out yourself if you are able to get there on the day. For those interested in attending, the Red Bull Box Cart Race will be held at Odaiba’s Yumei-no-Ohashi in Tokyo on October 11th from 1pm.