How Shazam Ruined Christmas

Holiday season, 2011. This is when I first began to see the Shazam logo appearing in the bottom corner of 30-second television commercials. The idea being that, while watching the ad appear on their TV people will recognize the Shazam logo, have a smart phone, have the application downloaded, understand how to use it, pull out their smart phones, open the app, activate the audio recognition, wait for the app to recognize the ad, and allow the app to pull up a specific site on their smart phone’s browser. Easy as that.

(Unsure just what Shazam is? Here’s a quick summary)

The only time I was actually able to pull off the intended “engagement” in the 30-seconds allotted, I was given the opportunity to download a holiday shopping jingle about discounted cardigans for Mom . Why anyone would ever want to do such a thing was beyond me. But surely it sounded good in the presentation to the client.

The whole experience made me picture a sleazy ad salesman who just learned a new buzzword, telling the client that their ad campaign will be “Shazamable”, giving little to no thought to what it actually means. Wanting to be up on the latest digital trends and thoroughly impressed by the saleman’s depth of industry knowledge and creativity, the client enthusiastically agrees that their ads simply MUST be “Shazamable”. Everyone leaves the room confident and proud to be on the cutting edge of advertising. The actual strategy behind this tactic can come later.

Since then, there have been some excellent uses of the Shazam app’s technology, especially within major live television events that are not bound by spot length. Rather than a download of a commercial jingle, users are able to use Shazam to unlock unique content and special features. The use of this engaging technology to further audience interaction has a much more strategic focus. Seemingly, it just came later.

Avoid the temptation of jumping into flavor of the minute marketing concepts with no real substance, objective or strategy behind them. Ask yourself why this concept makes sense for your brand and what you hope to gain through the use of certain new media. If you are going to further engage and interact with your audience, whether on their TV screen, desktop or mobile device, ensure you have something of value to offer them. Does your audience really want to download a jingle about sweaters? Think through the user experience. Put strategy first.

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