MobiAD Archives

The Terminator: A Killer Campaign Using Mobile Location

terminator_lena.gifLast year, when UK television station Virgin1 launched the new action series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, they wanted to do something special to create excitement and buzz around the launch episode.

In the TV series a Terminator can locate its victim no matter where they are. What if that could be done in real life as well? Agencies 20:20 London and Incentivated did just that, putting together a campaign with a great use of mobile location plus video that has won numerous awards in the past months.

The Target & Strategy

terminator_virgin1.gifDue to the enormous popularity of the Terminator films, there was a huge fan base ready for a TV series based on the same storyline.

The main target audience for this series is male, aged 16 to 39. These fans love the Terminator, and everything about Terminator. They are in general very internet and mobile savvy, but perhaps a bit skeptical about mainstream advertising. So the campaign needed to fit with the futuristic style and feel of the film series, and also be a bit tech oriented.

According 20:20 London, “we knew we could generate positive PR by using mobile in a completely new way. We blurred the lines between the marketing and the product, giving our audience a real experience that didn’t feel like advertising.”

The Campaign

terminator_nate.gifThe essence of the campaign was that it allowed fans to send a “Terminator” directly to terminate one of their friends.

Using either a special WAP site or the web, a subscriber could enter the phone number of one of their friends. The friend was then sent an SMS warning that the Terminators had hacked into their phone and were near by.

If they gave permission for their location to be revealed by their network (necessary for regulatory reasons), a special Terminator video was generated and sent to their mobile. The video was very much in the style of the Terminator films, and basically told them that the Terminators had found them and they were being terminated!

What made this campaign special was that the video was custom generated each time. First of all, the friend’s actual physical location was determined by the mobile operator network. Using this information, a segment of the video was generated which showed their current location on a map. The video was also customized to include the person’s own name and mobile number. This customization made the effect much more real – it seemed to people as though the Terminators really had tracked and found them!


Also, once someone had received a video and had been “terminated”, they were given the chance for revenge: there was a direct link so they could in turn enter the phone number of someone else to send a Terminator after them! So there was a very high viral component to this campaign.

The campaign was publicized by seeding it into popular fan websites, placing ads in high traffic sites that were frequented by members of the target audience. Ads also ran in some of the UK daily tabloids, primarily avoiding mainstream advertising media.

Here is a short video that gives a good overview of the flow and feel of the Terminator campaign.

Uploaded by mobiadvideo

The Results

This campaign was very popular with the fan base, and generated thousands of video messages during the weeks it ran. And when the show itself launched, it had the largest audience of any show ever on Virgin1, in fact 400% higher than any previous show.

“Interaction and engagement is at the heart of every successful digital campaign and this initiative proves that mobile is fertile territory for innovative consumer experiences”, remarked Peter Riley, Creative Partner of 20:20 London.

This campaign was also recognized at the DMA Awards (Direct Marketing Association) in late 2008, winning 4 awards including:

  • Gold in the Mobile marketing category;
  • Gold in the Leisure, Entertainment & Media category; and
  • Gold in the Creative Solutions category.
  • Silver in the Digital Innovation category;

Robert Thurner, Commercial Director of Incentivated said, “It takes brave brands like Virgin to push the boundaries and exploit mobile’s immense potential to extend campaign reach by going viral. Personalised videos and mobile maps reinforced the Terminators message, and succeeded in capturing viewers’ imagination”.


11.02.2009    Tags: , ,
Interested in Mobile Marketing and Mobile Commerce?
Subscribe to MobiAD News
Get the newsletter!

Subscribe to MobiAD