This new agency wants to let you pay for what you eat with a tweet



If you live in any reasonably sized city with any areas of reasonable wealth, you’ve probably heard at least one of your friends talk about a super cool pop-up store they’ve visited in the past couple of weeks. For the most part though, the way the transaction of goods in those stores has been pretty standard: you hand over your hard-earned cash and, in return, you get a the good you desire.

There are, however, a few examples of companies that have realised the model has potential beyond just a new way of doing retail. In the UK for instance, Kelloggs recently opened a “tweet shop” where people could get a snack in exchange for a tweet. Twitter users could claim a free item in exchange for tweeting one of three predefined tweets. Clothing retailer Marc Jacobs meanwhile opened up a Pop-Up Tweet Shop, where Twitter and Instagram users were rewarded with perfume and necklaces daily, with a daily prize of a branded handbag for the best Instagram photo of the day.

While these seem to have worked really well as one-off endeavors, a new South African agency reckons it can make a go of turning this kind of thinking into a fully-fledged business model.

The agency, called Utopian advertising, aims to give brands the service of a pop-up reward store – a temporary social currency outlet that rewards consumers for advocating a brand via a tweet or by uploading a photo to Instagram.

It reckons that using this method gives retailers an opportunity to test markets with new products. “By blurring the lines of retail, social media, promotional marketing and market research; Utopian Advertising is the first of its kind in the country to roll out such social currency solutions”, the company says.

It also reckons that brands should get a pretty decent return from an effective campaign in the shape of positive word-of-mouth, “with the objective of converting consumers into online brand advocates”. The real value for brands, it says, lies in the mobility and marketing return of the pop-up reward stores.

The idea sounds pretty neat and, given the omnichannel future retail seems likely to have, an agency that can help companies make both social and retail plays seems like something we’ll be seeing more of in the near future.

There are certain instances, however, when brands in South Africa can be slow to adapt to emerging trends. If this kind of thing does start to take off, Utopian will have the advantage of a head start, but that can only take you so far. It’s worth bearing in mind, after all, that big agencies have already played with the trend.

Two recent examples that spring to mind include The Street Store, built in collaboration with M&C Saatchi and The Exhange, a project by from digital agency Native, a pop-up store that allowed people to pick an item of clothing for signing up as an organ donor.

While social media may not have been used as a reward mechanism for either, they both gained a fair amount of traction on social networks and the agencies involved should be able to adapt fairly quickly.



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