Technology has allowed creativity to be expressed in ways never before thought possible. It has also encouraged Brands to find ways of turning advertising into utility. Media has historically been a message dissemination vehicle with no interaction. Now, there are countless media, most of which are incredibly interactive. Apps, Social Media profiles, interactive videos, touch displays, websites, games etc. All are media, or at least can be, and all are interactive. As a consequence, Brands can lean more heavily into utility when it comes to advertising their products or services.
KLM has been a leader in using technology to create utility-as-advertising (see some examples here). They have realised that so much around the actual flight is where memories, and thus positive brand associations, are made. Consequently, KLM tries to be part of those conversations. In some instances they lean more heavily into entertainment, in others they provide pure utility. The example below combines them both. Using the many readily available services and tapping into well-known service platforms such as TripAdvisor and Yelp, KLM has created an online micro-site called “Dream Catcher” which is a trip organiser on steroids, using influencer and consumer advice as it fuel. The result: travel itineraries that would make a celebrity PA proud. Have a look.
Yahoo is a search engine so naturally it provides utility. However, it is losing users quickly and needs to let them rediscover its power and how it can provide customised search like no other. As such, it used its technological prowess to help visually-impaired people in Japan physically enjoy search. They used their speech recognition search and connected it to a 3D printer. The way that people were able to instantly feel and identify what they were searching was amazing. Have a look.
The last example of utility-advertising comes from Hermes who have found interesting app ideas that help consumers “apply” their products. A recent app was a simple tool to help people tie a ladies scarf. It ensures the beauty of their famous designs get showcased, while creating desire and reassurance at the same time. Very simple utility that will encourage more scarves to be sold.