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One Of The World’s Most Popular Branded Apps:
Waterslide Extreme Scores Big
For Barclaycard

While common wisdom says that it is most effective to plan the mobile component of a campaign at the same time as planning the rest of the campaign, it doesn’t always have to be the case.

Barclaycard’s Waterslide Extreme is one of the most popular branded apps ever, and it was made purely an afterthought!

It is a common complaint from mobile developers that digital agencies often do not consider how to integrate mobile when they are first planning a campaign. Mobile simply gets “tagged on” at the last minute. However, sometimes this can work just fine.

Barclaycard, working with Bartle Bogle Hegarty, ran a very creative and successful TV ad for their contactless payment technology. It featured an office worker who rides a waterslide all the way through the city and back to his home, rather than use the bus or a subway like a normal worker.

Along the way, he slides through a grocery store, picks up a banana, and pays by swiping his contactless Barclaycard using NFC. Then he pays for his subway ticket just by sliding his card near the ticket machine.


The TV ad was fun, and became immensely popular with consumers, generating lots of online discussion. And that’s where the mobile component was born.

waterslide_building.jpgDigital agency Dare worked with mobile develop Fishlabs to build an iPhone app, Waterslide Extreme.

According to Toby Horry, managing partner at Dare, “We created it because of the positive reaction to the TV ad. People online were saying they wished they could do it for real, so we thought up the app. Barclaycard behaved flexibly and found a budget to make it happen.”

The app is a racing game where users slide their way down a waterslide through modern cities racing against the clock while picking up points as they go along. Steering is by tilting the iPhone left and right.

Although it is not terribly unique from a game perspective, because it reminded consumers of the popular TV ad it was an immediate hit.


After the first week, Paul Troy, Head of Advertising and Sponsorship at Barclaycard, UK said, “With over 16 million engagement minutes to date and thousands of reviews, interest in the waterslide campaign has really peaked again and we are thrilled.”

Within two weeks, it had become the most popular free branded advertising game in the history of the iTunes app store. With three million downloads, the game was the number one free iPhone application in 57 countries, including America, the UK, Germany, Canada, France, Spain and Japan.


Now, almost 2 years later, the game has been downloaded about 12 million times. To put this number in perspective, according to a U.K. survey by international consulting firm Deloitte only 20% of apps in the UK reach 1000 downloads, less than 1% reach even one million downloads.

This campaign is a clever use of mobile to prolong the life of an advertising campaign and keep consumers interested in the advertising message.

Here is the original TV advertisement:

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="350" height="288" wmode="transparent" /]

Here is a video of the Waterslide Extreme iPhone game:

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="350" height="288" wmode="transparent" /]

And, for some behind the scenes view of how the ad was made, see this site.

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