When Yell.com wanted to distinguish its interactive content from its big yellow book, it wasn't enough to merely advertise its multimedia service - it wanted people to experience it too. Enter AKQA, the design agency responsible for invigorating everything from Microsoft's Xbox 360 to Nike's Run London 10k race. 'Results for real life' was the outcome, an interactive media campaign that spans outdoor, online, TV and theatre adverts in a truly unique way.
The initial brief was simple yet tight. AKQA was asked to devise a big idea to take Yell.com away from its online portal existence and communicate the richness and availability of local content. "Often it's the open briefs that really freak out creatives," says Daniel Bonner, AKQA's executive creative director on the campaign. "The freedom that a tight brief offers is preferred because everyone - including the client - knows the direction in which you have to head."
A local's service
The specific direction the Yell.com campaign took was to deliver local information relevant to a consumer's location. Twenty-five London buses equipped with GPS tracking and mounted LED banners have been customised to flash local listings dependent on where and when the bus is on a particular route. For instance, a number six bus heading towards Charing Cross carries information on businesses and facilities on Charing Cross Road. In support of this - and while you're waiting for your bus - AKQA developed digital six-sheets that have been installed in bus stops. Each interactive screen displays a map of the area, and lists local businesses and interests within a two mile radius and dependent on the time of day - cafs and bars flash up at lunch time, while restaurants, theatres and clubs are listed once the working day is over.
"Our idea for the LED bus sides was one born out of the fact that Yell.com is all about local knowledge," says Bonner. "If we could broadcast messages relevant to the locality then it could have more impact than just repeating the same message over again."
Such a diverse campaign also required a unique approach, says Bonner. The campaign took six weeks to plan and create, and involved a range of skill sets from the AKQA team. "This new way of talking to the audience is a first in itself and has thrown up a number of challenges, many more of them being logistical and creative rather than scientific or technology based," he says. "When you add to that the fact that no-one else has used technology and creativity in this way before, it will give the campaign and the brand added amplification above the competitive advertising noise."
AKQA's ideas for the wider campaign were even more inventive. To branch out of the capital, Yell.com commissioned AKQA to put together Transvision Installations in Edinburgh Waverly train station and Manchester Piccadilly. These installations feature CCTV-style video concepts that highlight Yell.com's local expertise in a different way.
"We tailored each film dependent on where it's playing, whether that's London or Edinburgh, Wimbledon or Lewisham, again to reinforce the fact that Yell.com has the local knowledge you need," says Bonner. "Push-Ups, one of the Transvision films, has our hero on the concourse of a station getting on with his fitness routine while others go about their business around him."
The point of Push-Ups - and that of all the installations - is to underline the fact that local knowledge is key to the way we live. The commuters in the background in Push-Ups, who are local, aren't exercising on the platform because they know where to find the nearest gym, and the films aim to highlight Yell.com as the provider of this local knowledge.
Direction not dictation
"Like most advertisers, we want to generate trials of the service or product," says Barbara Newman, head of communications and brand development at Yell.com. "By showing people exactly how Yell.com can help in everyday 'real life' situations, we can demonstrate the relevance and, we anticipate, will drive awareness, brand preference and use."
It's a tactic that already seems to be paying off. The effect of the Results for real life campaign has been twofold: generating both curiosity and surprise. Some local businesses have already reported an upturn in footfall, and passers-by can't fail to notice the bright LED designs adorning their daily commute.
Significantly, though, it seems to be a campaign that has pleased both client and agency. "This Yell.com campaign marks a new approach that doesn't discriminate upon where the big campaign idea must come from, or where the cinema script must come from, or from where the outdoor ideas and the online work must come from," says Bonner. If anything, he believes, the campaign works because it examines and exposes the core facet of its client: "Direction is key," he maintains. "Not dictation."