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Multiplayer Mobile Game Connects Unilever With Consumers In Istanbul

cornetto-big-3.jpgIstanbul is one of the most vibrant cities in Europe, and the Beyoglu district is the heart of the city. What a perfect place to launch an innovative mobile marketing campaign that brings together a brand message of love and fun with leading edge mobile technology.

Last summer, mobile agency Mobilera teamed up with media agency Outeractive to do just that for Unilever’s Cornetto brand, bringing an outdoor audience participation multi-player mobile game to the millions that pass through this neighborhood on a daily basis.

The Cornetto mobile game campaign won the 2011 GSMA Award for “Best Mobile Advertising & Marketing Campaign”!

Turkey has a very young population, with a median age of just 28. The youth segment is becoming more and more active online, with internet penetration growing from under 50% to over 60% in just 2 years, and the level of mobile activity growing daily.

cornetto-people.jpgOn the other hand, the consumption rate of other in-home media channels has been decreasing. This has led major youth focused brands to start putting resources into newer, more interactive channels.

We had a chance to talk with Zehra Oney, GM of Outeractive and Selim Morlevi, Deputy GM, to get the full details behind the Overcome Yourself And Reach Out To Love campaign they ran over the summer for Cornetto’s Super Cornetto Fruit DISC.

Cornetto’s Objectives

Cornetto is Unilever’s very popular ice cream brand all across Europe. Cornetto has traditionally been a youth focused brand, and the brand messaging is that Cornetto helps you reach out to people that you want to be with. Cornetto ice creams can act as an icebreaker and maybe even help you overcome shyness.

To reinforce this positioning for example, the Cornetto logo includes a heart, and they have launched a line of ice cream products called “Love Sparks”.

cornetto-visual-2.jpgCornetto also had some previous experience and success with major outdoor spectacles, so they asked the team to come up with a new, innovative outdoor event.

However, as Selim explained, “Unilever did not want art for art’s sake – they wanted a campaign with true interactivity that would be linked to the brand’s key message”.

Location, Location, Location

When doing an outdoor advertising event, clearly location is one of the most critical elements, and in this case it was actually the first decision made.

Beyoglu is the nightlife and pedestrian center of Istanbul, and the main road – Istikalal Caddesi – sees over 1 million people per day. Plus the demographic of the people in this area would match the campaign target – younger but not only teenagers, active and outgoing.

After selecting the general area for the campaign, the team had to decide what sort of communication media would be best – a big screen, smaller screens, etc. In this case they worked with media agency Mindshare and were lucky to find an enormous building positioned such that almost everyone walking down the street sees it straight on. So they decided to display the campaign directly onto the building’s wall.


The campaign

Now that they had the wall, the team had to figure out what to do with it, and so the actual campaign itself then began to take shape.

The pattern of windows on the building is very rectangular and very repetitive, and at first this looked like it might be a problem for the campaign. But, after lots of brainstorming, the team realized they could actually take advantage of the window pattern and project a ‘pac man’ type game that used the windows to define the layout. And so they decided that the campaign would be a an outdoor, multi-player, mobile enabled game.

Here’s how it worked.

• A special number was projected onto the building wall, which consumers could dial to be connected to the game. An IVR system welcomed them and explained the game.

• Each player was assigned a different color character on the “screen”. The objective was to move the character around and catch 3 Cornetto ice cream cones in less than 45 seconds.

• Players controlled their characters simply by using the keys of their phone – 2 for up, 4 for left, 5 for down, 6 for right. A “mobile joy stick”.

• If you were able to catch three cones, then your player got a big heart on the screen, and you received an SMS with a coupon that you could redeem for a real Cornetto at the event bar.




Even for a marketing campaign, the quality of gameplay is always important. Here are a couple of the key features that made this game successful.

  • Multiplayer – so a larger number of people could be involved simultaneously.
  • Continuous play – not everyone started at the same time, so there were always people joining and leaving, which made it more interesting to watch.
  • Queuing – a simple queuing system made it easy and fast for new players to join.
  • Competition – everyone was trying to catch the same Cornettos, so there was some suspense and competition.
  • Simplicity – the rules were easy to understand and the control of the players was easy to understand, so everyone could just concentrate on having fun playing.
  • Reward – having a real reward of a nice ice cream on a hot summers night made it really worth playing.

Behind the scenes

The overall campaign took just about a month to put together from the time that Cornetto gave final approval for the project. A team of eight programmers, animators, designers, and operation managers worked round the clock to make it happen.

One of the key steps was that an exact scale replica of the street and wall were built in the Mobilera offices. The entire system was developed and tested on the model.

Technically, the biggest challenge was to implement the IVR-based “mobile joy stick” system to control the on screen characters. No IVR system like that existed, so Outeractive partnered with a local IVR house for the basic infrastructure, and then programmed a customized system that could send out the key-press signals in real time to the game imaging servers.

Here is a short video that shows the game in action, and gives a good sense of the overall feel of the event.

[kml_flashembed movie=”” width=”400″ height=”310″ wmode=”transparent” /]

Running the campaign

cornetto-outdoor-sign.jpgIn the days before the game went live, Mobilera ran a series of publicity activities to alert the public to the upcoming event. This included handing out leaflets and advertising on special outdoor interative screens during the days. At night and during the campaign, the event area was enriched with live shows and musical entertainment to draw people to the area.

The game itself ran for 15 evenings, two hours each evening in the summer of 2010. On average over 100 per hour played the game, and close to 3 million people saw the project in action.

corona-tugan.gifUnilever’s brand building manager for Turkey, Tugan Ogun, had this to say about the success of the program:
“The mobile multiplayer game helped us achieve 3 of our main objectives.
• One was to pioneer innovation in new media usage;
• The second was to become a brand that people talk about;
• And third, but not the least, was to become the most appealing teen food brand in Turkey.”

Lessons learned

According to Zehra and Selim, there are at least three key success factors that agencies need to keep in mind when developing and running an outdoor campaign such as this:

1) Make it easy to use so customers will enjoy it.
2) Location is critical, make sure the people you want to communicate with will be there.
3) Develop a good relationship with the municipal government – you will be doing something new in a public space, so it will help a lot if they are kept informed and are supportive. (in this case, the Mayor of Beyoglu actually came and watched the game!)

Zehra summed up by saying that “I believe our approach was successful because we combined a range of technologies to provide a complete experience, so that consumers would leave happy and remember the experience for years afterwards.”


09.02.2011    Tags: , , ,
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