Yesterday I came across two Bluetooth billboard campaigns I remembered seeing a few years ago. They both share similar qualities using a bit of mystery to (hopefully) intrigue the consumer into interacting with the brand. However being in public areas they could easily be seen as being intrusive and offensive rather than creative and innovative. More detail about each of the campaigns below:

Schiesser “Mystery” Underwear Campaign:


First is the ‘Mystery’ billboard by underwear company Shiesser. The billboard features a sketched silhouette of a woman with the line “The prettiest things are hidden from view“.

Then when you activate your Bluetooth you get sent the Schiesser Showroom Application which displays a catalogue of models in lingerie, thus filling out the silhouette. Agency: Mindmatics

Big Brother “Big Brother is watching” Campaign:


Next is the Big Brother campaign in Australia to promote the launch of the new series on TV. Bluetooth transmitters were installed into 20 high footfall bus shelters around town. Two messages were sent to people nearby (as a .txt file).

The first message is targeted for the location, with something along the lines of Im watching u. Ur at the (customised current location)”. The second message is received 30-40 seconds later with the big reveal, saying Big Brother is back. 7 PM weeknights on TEN.

The campaigns theme is based around the Big Brother slogan “Big Brother is watching” hence the stalker style message. Agency: Marketforce

Quick Background On Bluetooth Marketing

Bluetooth Marketing (also known as Proximity Marketing) is distributing content via Bluetooth transmitters, usually in billboards, shop displays or hidden out of sight. You can send any type of file to a mobile, whether you can open it or not depends if it’s compatible with your handset. Files are usually video, audio, images and applications – the speed of Bluetooth means you can generally send 1mb files in seconds which makes it such a attractive method of mobile advertising. It is free to send and receive files and no personal information about the user is divulged. It works in exactly the same way as peer to peer Bluetooth, which means you can either accept of reject the file transfer.

Innovative Or Intrusive?

So as you can see these could either be seen as smart bits of advertising…or two billboards sending random members of the public pictures of ladies in pants or stalker messages scaring them to death.

I’m a bit divided on these two billboards. My heart is telling me they are creative and using the technology to produce ambient, memorable campaigns. My brain is saying these messages are being sent to passers-by who a) might not even see the poster so have no idea why they are getting pinged b) aren’t interested because it has no relevance to what they are doing.

Part of me thinks it’s a bit much calling Bluetooth transmissions spam as the person has to accept or reject the message so it’s entirely down to the user. If you’re easily offended or concerned about privacy why would you accept a Bluetooth message and then complain when it turns out to be porn? If people constantly keep having to reject the same message then I would call it spam but the system can be set up in a way which means someone never has to reject a message twice so that should never happen.

But alas I have to consider the end user and I know some people get annoyed at even having to press ‘reject’ on their phone at all. This is why you have to be as relevant as you can with Bluetooth Marketing as you’re less likely to piss someone off. You need to know your audience. Take this ridiculous trial campaign by HSBC on Regents Street in London, where shoppers were sent a video promoting a cash ISA. Absolutely no targeting whatsoever, a large majority of shoppers on Regents Street being tourists who can’t open cash ISAs here and the rest probably leaving the house that day to buy some clothes rather than open an ISA. HSBC dropped plans to use Bluetooth beyond the trial.

I’ve always been a big advocate of targeted, relevant and contextual advertising. It’s difficult to do this with Bluetooth as the technology doesn’t let you know anything about the passer-by so its hit and hope, especially if the person hasn’t seen the poster or billboard (Bluetooth can go as far as 60-100m). However the way around this is to simply place the Bluetooth transmitters in areas where you know the people around are going to want the content. For example imagine an Oasis concert at Wembley, 90,000 people who would all LOVE to get some Oasis ringtones, videos, Mp3s and wallpapers onto their mobiles, it’s the perfect sort of event for Bluetooth Marketing. Then add some sigage or notifications on the big screens to seed people switching on Bluetooth and your good to go (no point of having cool content but not notifying people to switch their Bluetooth on).

Places such as football matches, concerts, festivals, nightclubs, large events, restaurants and department stores all work well because there is more relevance to the users surroundings. If you are in Sainsburys, a promotion sent to you via Bluetooth is not only going to be more useful than from a bus stop but also more actionable. Just like a ‘Goal of the season’ video sent to home fans at an Arsenal football match is going to convince even the most hardened Bluetooth hater to get involved. So wouldn’t the Schiesser Underwear poster be better placed in a women’s department store?

Bluetooth is a great medium, it’s simple, free for the consumer and has a huge reach. There is no better way to send large, rich media files over short distance to mobiles. It does kind of have a premium type of flair to it and can really flourish with well thought out campaigns, like this ‘Bluetooth Stopwatch‘ campaign from Nike.

So what do you think?