NEW YORK Levi's wants to link its past with the future through a new digital scavenger hunt that blends the real and virtual worlds.
Levi's agency Wieden + Kennedy created the game, which kicks off today and runs through mid-November on the brand's Web site, to invoke memories of the company's heritage in the 1890s. The game's narrative revolves around a character named Grayson Ozias IV who has left wax cylinder voice recordings hidden across America. The challenge for players is to find these recordings and, ultimately, the $100,000 fortune Ozias buried.
Wieden has designed a light version of the alternate reality games popular in recent years with marketers. Participants are challenged with puzzles online, completing real-world tasks and hunting down clues in the real world, which then unlock the next part of the story. Levi's will keep the game going by posting the collectible clues online.
"The question we asked was how do we bring this ['Go Forth'] idea into the real world and bring the brand's unique history into the story and the challenge," said Doug Sweeny, vp of brand marketing at Levi's. "We're trying to get people engaged in the idea of go forth and make it very active."
The effort is the third in a series of online "excursions" Levi's has planned as part of its "Go Forth" campaign that evokes its past as a brand of quintessential American trailblazers. With "The New Declaration," Levi's challenged people to redefine the Declaration of Independence. It also ran a video contest around the concept of "The New Americans." It plans another three expeditions in coming months.
The game is targeted at young consumers age 18-24, according to Levi's director of digital marketing Megan O'Connor. It follows what she calls the "1+9+90 rule" in believing for every full-on participant there will be nine commenters and 90 passive observers. For that reason, the game's narrative is made accessible to all visitors, not just those actively playing.
"We're pulling a page out of the ARG books, but we're trying to keep it a little less complicated," she said.
Levi's is including social media by posting clues through its Facebook page, which has nearly 150,000 fans, and a dedicated game Twitter account. It has plans for other social twists, including the use of live streaming service 12seconds. There is a social responsibility element in the third week of the game, when Levi's will let participants choose a charity that will receive a $100,000 donation.
Levis' hopes the game will not only build engagement with its target audience but also expand its e-mail database. Each participant will register to participate. The brand will also look to total number of participation level and site visits to gauge success, O'Connor said.
Levi's is promoting the game via video banner ads on sites including Facebook, Break and Pandora. Publicis Groupe's Razorfish handled digital media planning and buying.