The Branded App that Actually Changed Perception

Navigating “product” engagements with communications-oriented clients can be tricky and delicate. My inclination is generally to say, “Nobody wants an app, and certainly not your branded app…” but there was just something unusual about this opportunity that I knew could work.

Some Context

At the time I was running UX for Mcgarrybowen, the lead agency / AOR for Intel. Our line was, “Intel Inside = Great Experiences Outside.” A careful evolution of “Intel Inside” that was intended to create the perception of Intel as an innovative technology company. This point was critical. There is abundant research about how this perception triggers loyalty in consumers and clients believed so deeply in this stat that they literally compensated their marketers on its movement.

My role at the agency was fairly strategic, meaning I focused less on craft-oriented tasks such as designing and specifying digital products, and more on higher-level tasks such as devising new models for customer loyalty, journey mapping or attempting to simplify complicated communication ecosystems. So this engagement was a great fit.

For this project we formed a terrific cross-functional team, and I was directly responsible for UX, prototyping and user research, as well as collaboratively developing the decks that would drive the endeavor from concept to delivery. In addition, I drove conversations with product teams within Intel that lead to the discovery of technologies we could showcase and exploit as part of the app experience.

Phase 1

At the goal level, the client wanted to boost the perception of Intel as an innovative technology brand… and sell some PCs along the way. To get there, they wanted to leverage the hundreds of millions of “Intel Inside” stickers on PCs.

In this case, what the client wanted was a mobile app that users could point at their computer (literally) to “scan” the ubiquitous stickers that indicate which processor a computer uses… and in detecting their processor, it would unlock suggestions for which new computer the user should upgrade to along with discounts on such purchases.

While we all loved the “unlock” action, my team was dissatisfied with what was unlocked. A discount felt cheap. A recommendation for what PC they might upgrade to felt cheesy. We kept noodling on the question of what we could do to make the audience’s lives better.

Phase 2

As a category, the client was interested in entertainment, so we rolled through the countless iterations of the app unlocking surprise-and-delight events staged from shipping containers dropped into hipster enclaves.

But changing people’s minds is equal parts show and tell. To pull this off, we had to go beyond “marketing” to achieve a unique and meaningful experiential high-point. We pitched and got traction on creating a digital concert with Lady Gaga, exclusively and interactively experienced through smart phones. We’d leverage some specific Intel products as the enabling technologies and provide Lady Gaga and her Little Monsters with an outlet at global scale.

As we developed the Gaga concept, we dug deep with Intel’s product teams to better-understand what consumer-purchasable Intel technology we could leverage in the app to bring this story to life. Remember, we were cementing the idea of Intel Inside = Great Experiences Outside.

Along the way, we discovered a number of events and organizations they sponsored, and one in particular in the gaming space. the client was a longtime sponsor of one of the biggest and most venerable global eSports tournaments, Intel Extreme Masters.

Phase 3

We pivoted from supporting a singular event (Gaga) to delivering a uniquely premium experience of major events, exclusively unlocked by Intel.

We developed some fairly great video-casting technology that enabled users to fast-switch between video feeds of players, but then we plussed-up the offering by weaving in some Intel tech that enabled us to show realtime stress and heartrate data on all the players.

We were only able to find and deploy these technologies because we invested the time to probe product teams at Intel and make lateral connections to our work.

The Upshot

After using the app, 2 out of 3 respondents said they would likely share the app via social media and 9 out of 10 respondents said they would likely keep the app on their phone after the event to use for a future event.

A strong user focus, a commitment to delivering value and a vision for how to make lateral connections made this project into a surprise success.