Frijj: You LOL. You lose

Frijj, the UK’s No.1 flavoured milkshake brand, has developed a new online game that challenges people to not laugh while watching some of the web’s funniest videos (that’s if your idea of funny is someone having a football kicked in their face)

The new digital promotion – for the brand’s honeycomb choc swirl, jam doughnut and sticky toffee pudding flavours - utilises facial recognition technology via a user’s webcam to tell whether a viewer is smiling or laughing. A users score is determined by how long they can keep a straight face and players are encouraged to share their high scores with their social media friends.

The Dairy Crest owned brand, which has seen market growth of 8% in 2010/11, continues to invest in quirky marketing, taking full advantage of new technology to implement its campaigns. Last year’s FRijj Swamp Soccerettes Cheerleader squad for instance used augmented reality to place a virtual cheerleader on its bottles as part of a six figure on-pack promotion.

An upcoming addition to the new comedy-based digital promotion will also see the brand releasing a Pet Translator iPhone app in September - whatever that may actually turn out to be.

The new facial recognition campaign, although executed well, feels a little at odds with itself. On one hand this is a light-hearted and colourful promotion, but in order to play the game the viewer is encouraged to retain a dour expression throughout – which feels somewhat out of character with the overall message of the bright and fun brand.

That said this Frijj effort does follow an ongoing trend for digital promotions that force a user to stay glued to their screen, such as Burger King's 'Whopper Lust' reward promotion and Peugeot's 'Take The Car' campaign in Sweden, which all offered rewards for prolonged viewing.

In an age of constant digital distraction brands are increasingly looking for ways to ensure their digital efforts get not only the requisite number of eyeballs, but also a guaranteed amount of a consumer's precious online time.

Whether this should be achieved through building engaging and rewarding content or through forced dwell time is open to question.

The one thing worth bearing in mind is that there are only so many times you can play this 'controlled dwell' card with consumers before it becomes both tedious and likely to cause resentment. Frijj's effort here is focused on a light gaming mechanic and fits snugly within the brand's other creative work, but for other brands this type of activity may not sit so comfortably with consumers.

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