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Top 10 mobile marketing campaigns of Q3

Pillsbury?s Toaster Strudel, Grolsch beer and Mondelez?s Sour Patch Kids were among the brands in the third quarter that shone with their mobile advertising strategies, tapping enhanced targeting, greater interactivity and native experiences. 

While mobile ad spending appears poised to soar, according to projections released by the Mobile Marketing Association at last week?s SM2 Innovation Summit, many campaigns remain smaller-scale versions of desktop programs. Heading into the autumn of 2014, however, numerous big brands pushed the envelope on mobile creative and tactics and on adding uniquely mobile interactive elements. 

The big trend in mobile branding is content, given that consumers are already so used to consuming content on their smartphones. 

Here are the top 10 mobile advertising campaigns of the third quarter, in alphabetical order.

Grolsch leverages beacon-enabled bottle cap to build engagement in movie offer 
Dutch beer brand Grolsch built customer engagement with its offer of free movies to customers who linked their bottles to smartphones through a bottle-cap Bluetooth beacon.

Grolsch drinkers who tapped the bottle cap against a phone could claim a movie from a list. A sticker kept the beacon from transmitting until the bottle was opened. When the bottle was opened, the beacon was activated and sent a signal to a server with a previously registered serial number. If the signal and the number matched, users could digitally unlock a movie of their choice.

The campaign demonstrated the ability of beacons to build engagement and help deliver rewards to consumers. The brewer worked with Russian app developer Heads and Hands on the campaign. The St. Petersburg, Russia, technology company?s product was compatible with any device equipped with next-generation Bluetooth beacon connectivity. 

While beacons promise a significant improvement over first attempts at real-world brand engagements via mobile, there is still a long way to go in enabling seamless interactions.

Enabling real-world engagements with brands is one of mobile?s big promises for marketers but first attempts via tactics such as QR codes lacked clear calls to action or contextual relevancy. More recently, Bluetooth-enabled beacons and image recognition hold out the promise of better user experiences but challenges still remain.

Heineken seeks to dial up local adventures in social campaign
Mobile played a leading role in a new Heineken ad campaign that invited consumers to text and tweet their way to discovering local adventures.

The multifaceted effort included a video called ?The Payphone? starring Portlandia and Saturday Night Live actor Fred Armisen inviting viewers to submit their phone numbers. It also included a Twitter campaign.

The Payphone video ? posted on ? featured Mr. Armisen making calls to a pay phone on the street in New York City and inviting random passers-by who answer to come across the street to experience something new and unexplained. Those who answered were asked onstage to participate in a live comedy performance. 

The campaign was part of Heineken?s wide-ranging Cities of the World promotional effort and was produced by Wieden + Kennedy New York. Heineken described Cities of the World as a series of ?social experiments? that sought to take people out of their normal routines and demonstrated that the beer brand can hold the key to local adventures. 

When viewers watched The Payphone video on the Routine Interruptions site, they were prompted with an invitation to submit their phone number for the chance to be called and invited to a mystery event in their area. In partnership with FlavorPill media, Heineken said it expected to invite thousands of participants to ?unique cultural activities? such as secret concerts in living rooms with Sofar Sounds and dinner with underground social dining club Dinner Lab.

Lufthansa entices travelers with interactive selfie campaign
Lufthansa German Airlines introduced an interactive selfie campaign featuring 3D and panoramic elements to deliver what it hoped would be a highly captivating brand message.

Lufthansa's selfie-driven pitch.

The airline brand teamed up with mobile advertising platforms Opera Mediaworks and Celtra for the campaign, which focused on providing personalized selfie backgrounds to a targeted audience. The advertising platforms aimed to excite travel enthusiasts with the selfie and gyro ad formats as a primary form of user engagement.

Mondelez?s Sour Patch Kids personalizes social engagements via Snapchat
A Sour Patch Kids Snapchat campaign that tapped the appeal of social media comedy star Logan Paul allowed the candy brand?s parent Mondelez International to personalize social engagements as part of a heightened mobile strategy.

The consumer packaged-goods company, home to brands such as Oreo and Cheese Nips, launched a five-day Snapchat campaign dubbed "Real-life Sour Patch Kid" that documented prankster Mr. Paul?s takeover of the brand's Snapchat account. It was the latest example of a brand levering mobile to connect with fans through both photo-sharing and gaming functionality. 

Mr. Paul posted a daily description of his antics on Sour Patch Kids? Snapchat account. The pranks changed in tone from sour to sweet, keeping in line with the brand's "first they're sour, then they're sweet" slogan.

In the inaugural seven-second message, a Sour Patch character first doused Mr. Paul with water and threw crackers at him but gave him water to drink by clip?s end.

The candy brand promoted the @SourPatchSnaps Snapchat account on Facebook and Twitter. Mr. Paul also posted to his own Snapchat and Twitter account to promote the Sour Patch Kids content.

Movie theaters embrace mobile-enabled interactive ads for product sales
More than 2,200 movie theaters enabled moviegoers to snap pictures of interactive ads in their lobbies and on the screen with their mobile phone and be redirected to shopping sites where they could hop the looks of the characters in their favorite films.  

Visual search platform Slyce teamed with in-cinema marketing and media solutions company Screenvision to bring the experience to the theaters, including nearly 400 universities across the United States, through Screenvision?s partner theaters, such as Carmike Cinemas and Regency Theatres. By continuing the user experience outside the theater, movie studios can more closely target consumers and deliver to them the content in which they are most interested.

Popular films and fashion trends are closely tied. For example, women?s fashion borrowed heavily from the Hunger Games franchise during the initial pulse of the novels and film adaptations, creating trends for hair braids, tall, strappy boots and outdoor gear. 

Nissan electrifies digital B2B campaign with humor, celebrity tie-in
Nissan's new digital and social marketing campaign for its rugged commercial vans starred Poison lead singer Bret Michaels and used humor to show that business-to-business ads do not have to be boring.

The comprehensive "Tough Love" digital and print effort spanned a variety of social media and digital platforms, including AOL , Google, Fortune, Entrepreneur, KKB, Edmunds, Cars Direct and Auto Traders.  As B2B decision makers are increasingly spending more time on social channels, social media advertising is one way to engage with prospects, create awareness and top of mind recall for a brand. 

Carrying the theme line "The tougher we test them, the more you love them," the campaign was directed at small business owners looking for durable, efficient cargo and passenger vans.

Created by TBWAChiatDay, Nissan put reality star and rock legend Bret Michaels in the leading role of a product demo. The music video opened on a shot of the automaker?s Arizona testing facility where car assessments were underway. Soft piano arpeggios started to play before they were met with a banging strum of the guitar.

As Michaels looked seductively towards a shiny black utility vehicle, he sang his own rock rendition of the ?80s classic ?Endless Love.? Throughout the four minutes of dramatically gripping hands, panning close-ups, flaming guitars, and other rock-video tropes, some of Nissan?s 6,600 automobile tests were demonstrated.

Pillsbury Toaster Strudel taps Fruit Ninja app in More Fruit campaign
Pillsbury Toaster Strudel leveraged the popularity of the Fruit Ninja mobile application with flying-fruit video games and a live show by a fruit-slicing swordsman in support of its ?More Fruit? campaign.

Live fruit-slicing show was in Pillsbury Toaster Strudel campaign.

The partnership with Halfbrick, maker of the Fruit Ninja app, included sponsored in-app challenges, videos and coupons, as well as swordsman Isao Machii slicing apples, berries, watermelons and other fruit in a live show at the Grove in Los Angeles. The campaign reflected marketers? efforts to leverage the surge in video-game playing and its value in bringing together families.

During the live event, attendees could sample Toaster Strudel, play Fruit Ninja Kinect and pose for photos.

The campaign was the latest effort by Toaster Strudel?s parent, Minneapolis-based General Mills, to target tech-savvy mothers with a mobile initiative. 

Showtime creates tactile Homeland mobile ad for dramatic effect 
Showtime partnered with Immersion Corporation to use its haptic technology in mobile ads, with the goal of increasing viewer engagement and retention.

Immersion?s haptic technology, which features tactile effects synced with videos, was featured in the television network?s trailer for its hit drama Homeland. Immersion claimed that haptic technology is the best way to communicate with mobile device users through touch.

Showtime?s trailer for the Season 4 premiere of Homeland was synced with haptic technology to offer users a more interactive trailer viewing experience. The minute-long clip featured vibrations that were activated during suspenseful moments. In one scene teaser, a bomb exploded, causing the mobile device to shake and offered the impression of a bomb going off in the user?s hand.

Toyota leverages mobile to target in-market local car shoppers
Toyota used a new mobile advertising unit to serve real-time offers to customers who were in a Toyota dealer?s region and in the market for a car.

Co-created with Opera Mediaworks and Saatchi & Saatchi LA, the ad unit leveragesd Opera Mediaworks audience-management platform to determine that a user was an in-market auto shopper and GPS location data to deliver the appropriate offer, showing what interest rate a buyer in that location could pay to finance a purchase. The leveraging of both geographic location and in-market behavior highlighted the significant strides that automakers have made in mobile to drive sales leads and foot traffic to dealerships. 

The ad unit could be viewed by in-market auto shoppers who frequented any of Opera?s premium publishers and applications.

An example of how it worked would be an in-market auto customer receiving an animated mobile ad. A Toyota would zoom into the screen and an offer, including the interest rate a buyer would pay to finance a purchase in that geographic region, would be generated in real time.

Toys R Us applies the sticky nature of mobile video in new ads
Toys "R" Us tapped traditional television spots and social media networks in a cross-platform strategy that encouraged consumers to share how toys inspire their everyday lives.

The unveiling of a new hashtag #LetsPlay was disseminated across the most popular destinations visited respectively by desktop, mobile and tablet users, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube with premier placements on Hulu and Hulu Plus. Content included commercial clips, behind-the-scenes photos and video from the broader ?C?mon Let?s Play? marketing plan.

The brand campaign was designed in partnership with advertising agency The Escape Pod and ?Action Movie Kid? YouTube channel creator Daniel Hashimoto.

Serving as inspiration for the campaign was one of Hashimoto's original 'Action Movie Kid' viral videos filmed at his local Toys "R" Us, which showed his three-year-old son James playing with a toy light saber he picked up off the shelf and magically unleashing its powers via special effects, as though he were a real-life Star Wars character.

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York.