Born-Again Ads

Michael Ancevic, svp, group cd at Mullen, is nearly as excited about Apple’s iPad as those in the publishing industry. (The only difference: his future may not depend on it.) While working on an ad that will run in a Conde Nast title on the new tablet — he declined to name the brand or magazine — he said, “We felt we were doing something that’s going to change everything. … It’s print on steroids. What if that photo came to life? What if you can see different angles of a certain product or demo it? It picks up where print left off.”

David Hewitt, mobile practice lead and cd for the Southeast region at SapientNitro, calls it “the most compelling mini-media consumption device” there is. Advertising on it, he adds, is as much about reaching the early influencers as it is about the buzz. “A lot of clients are using this as a first-to-market opportunity,” says Hewitt.

The industry has iPad on the brain, and agencies and brands alike are busy assessing ways to make their marks on the hottest new product to hit the technology sector since, well, the iPhone. Brands that have jumped in include Cadillac, which paired with trend-spotting site Cool Hunting (and BBH Labs) for an app that helps promote the CTS and CTS-V coupes, and Procter & Gamble’s Pampers, whose app, Hello Baby — its first mobile-device application — allows pregnant women to track their babies’ development.

Serena Connelly, cd at StrawberryFrog, which created the Pampers app, says that it was important for the brand to have an early presence. “Pampers wants to be present and part of innovations in technology that help to redefine mass culture,” says Connelly.

Apps are probably the easiest and most cost-efficient way for marketers to get into the iPad game because existing iPhone apps can be repurposed for the larger device. Dan LaCivita, president, Firstborn, says the agency is extending clients’ iPhone apps as well as creating new ideas.

“It all depends on the initial app itself,” says LaCivita. “If the apps can use the same functionality and it’s not a lot of redevelopment, the physics and math are going to be the same.” Size is the main issue, he adds: “For example, if you have an [iPhone] app that’s graphics heavy … we would have to redesign those images to make sure the quality is there, that the aspect ratio is correct.”

Hewitt, however, says taking the same app from iPhone to iPad is rarely optimal.
Text and graphics are going to get a little blurry, he notes, not to mention many popular iPhone apps rely on the phone’s camera and voice capabilities, features not yet available on the iPad.

Early entries that have optimized the features of the iPad so far, Hewitt says, are apps that allow users to manage their social networking, such as TweetDeck; to shop and browse, like apps for Gilt or eBay; or to watch videos, like those for YouTube and Yahoo Entertainment.

Because it’s so early in the game, the challenge, of course, lies in not knowing how much can be done on the iPad, and what will and won’t work.

“We haven’t even cracked the surface on the experiences we can create,” says Hewitt.

“The iPad is truly a two-hand device,” notes Richard Schatzberger, director of creative technology at Cadillac shop Bartle Bogle Hegarty. “You hold content in a different way, so what kind of interactions are people really going to do? The biggest challenge for us was not knowing how the iPad would be used [and] what new behaviors might occur.”

Tina Unterlaender, account director, mobile at AKQA, which has created iPad apps for Gap and Nike, asks, “Is it a utility tool, an entertainment tool? Will it replace anything we have today?”

For Gap, the agency created the Gap 1969 Stream, which includes content from designers, e-commerce capabilities and a Twitter feed from the brand’s head designer.

“Because with the iPad you’re more in a mind-set of casually browsing, [using it] to relax, watch a movie,” they created the app with a magazine-like mind-set, says Unterlaender. “It’s something you take your time with.” Users, she explains, “can spend time tapping through all the different content, interact with it, read about the celebrities that wear the Gap denim clothes, [then] share what interests them. They don’t have to rip out a page — they can send it.”

To better understand the iPad’s possibilities, she adds, AKQA tracks every single feature. “A lot of the information we’re collecting right now [we’ll be able to use] when we update the app,” she says.

For Mullen’s Ancevic, all the unknowns are “slightly daunting. But it’s going to be fun to see what the initial advertisers do with it,” he says. “It’s a unique situation. We’re all starting this race at the same time.”

See also:

“iPad Nation Rises”

“The iPad Touch”

“Goodby Dresses Up Apple’s iPad”