M&M's: Have you seen Red?

M&M’s has lost one of its animated brand ambassadors and is enlisting the full digital and social arsenal in order to track down the missing ad stalwart.

The Canadian ‘Find Red’ campaign (the colour of the missing candy) invites participates to search three virtual Toronto locations via a special version of Google Street View in order to track down where Red is hidden.

The locations are revealed via a web of clues in this mainstream ARG, starting with six hidden clues in the YouTube video (below) that sees Red disappear. Additional clues are then given for every 30 KM a player travels across the digital Toronto. Currently players have traversed 2081 KM within the game

Players can also track Red on Foursquare as he checks in to various locations, follow updates via a dedicated Twitter hashtag, uncover new clues via Stickybits enabled barcodes on special M&M packs and visit Facebook which acts as a central hub for the adventure as it gains momentum.

In addition to all the digital activity M&M’s is also seeding out a physical poster campaign, whereby the remaining candy pieces (Yellow, Orange, Green and Blue) offer up QR codes that enable players to receive new ‘Community Clues’  - a total of 18 - via their mobile handsets.

The overall winner will net themselves a red Smart for two coupé, with cinema tickets, iPods and actual candy also up for grabs.

The trick with pervasive gaming is in getting users with increasingly short attention spans to commit to gameplay . This is a novel take on the growing ‘virtual treasure hunt’ theme, and one that seemingly manages to cover all bases without alienating its audience. The ARG element is fairly light, but engaging enough to interest casual social gamers.

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