Virgin Mobile aims to “BlinkWash” America

By Matt Gillis

A new advertising technology is bringing the idea of interactivity with consumers to a whole new level. Consumers no longer have to actively participate in interactive advertisements; they just have to blink.

“BlinkWashing” is a brand new advertising innovation that monitors and tracks a consumer’s eye movements while he or she watches a video using the individual user’s computer webcam. Each time the viewer blinks, the video changes.

Virgin Mobile is the first company to introduce this technology and have implemented it in the final instillation of their “Retrain Your Brain” campaign that aims to shed light on the company’s low-cost data plans. The company is hosting their interactive eye-tracking advertisements on YouTube.

The brand new technology was created in partnership with digital production lab Rehab Studio and creative agency Mother NY. The “BlinkWashing” technique works by directing viewers to “relax and approve your webcam,” which opens the consumer’s webcam that begins the calibration blink process and eventually opens the Virgin Mobile advertisement.

This unique advertising technique may seem rather useless as it causes each video clip to change with each blink after just seconds of the viewer’s interaction. However, I believe Virgin Mobile’s use of “BlinkWashing” is playing off of the concept of brainwashing, causing users to engage intently with each advertisement in order to keep them from changing to the next one. The technology also encourages users to view multiple Virgin Mobile advertisements all at once within a short period of time.

Each of the advertisements focuses on Virgin Mobile’s $35-a-month phone plan, and the use of the interactive “BlinkWashing” approach is aimed at maintaining each viewer’s attention long enough to hear the company’s usually boring pitch. Because each of the advertisements differs visually from the next, viewers are inclined to want to watch what happens.

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After personal exploration of the company’s advertisement, I found myself so engaged with the commercial that I re-watched it several times in order to see the parts that I had missed due to my uncontrollable blinks.

I find it interesting how Virgin Mobile’s use of this advancement is aimed at educating consumers about their brand, while the technology itself supports the idea of skipping advertisements by simply blinking. However, I think the goal of the company’s use of this innovation is to get viewers talking, which has worked so far.

Whether this technology seems useless or not, we are talking about it and Virgin Mobile is gaining brand exposure. I mean, that is the point of any advertising campaign, right?

Try it here.

Reference list:

–       Faull, J. (2013, September 17). Virgin Mobile USA’s ‘Blinkwashing’ ad uses face and motion detectors to give viewers a unique experience | The Drum. The Drum | Modern Marketing & Media. Retrieved September 17, 2013, from http://www.thedrum.com/news/2013/09/17/virgin-mobile-usa-s-blinkwashing-ad-uses-face-and-motion-detectors-give-viewers

–       Reisinger, D. (2013, September 17). Virgin Mobile’s ‘blinkwashing’ asks your eyelids to skip ads | Internet & Media – CNET News. Technology News – CNET News. Retrieved September 17, 2013, from http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57603244-93/virgin-mobiles-blinkwashing-asks-your-eyelids-to-skip-ads/

–       Taube, A. (2013, September 16). Virgin Mobile Uses ‘Blinkwashing’ To Get Attention – Business Insider. Business Insider. Retrieved September 17, 2013, from http://www.businessinsider.com/virgin-mobile-uses-blinkwashing-to-get-attention-2013-9

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4 thoughts on “Virgin Mobile aims to “BlinkWash” America

  1. This is great! They’re essentially teaching their consumers to memorize the ad content. It’s also clever to take the concept that brands brainwash consumers and just explicitly do so…hehe. =)

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  2. Wow! I think this concept is brilliant! Not only does the commercial grab a users attention but it also successfully incorporates the our daily lifestyle in the commercials. I think the reason they have incorporated so many commercials into this campaign was to attract a vast majority of customers who will be only connect with what they are most passionate about. I think it’s clever how they keep the same message content but deliver in a unique way ever time you blink your eyes. Looooove it!

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  3. I think this ads is very creative. Although it is very short, I can remember the theme in this ads. In my opinion, the ads should like this one which is very short but easy to remember.

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  4. This is one of the smartest methods of advertising I have seen in the longest time. Virgin Mobile has to compete with the big boys of the phone industry like Verizon, T Mobile, Sprint and AT&T so it is no wonder that they tried to find the most interesting and attention grabbing advertisement they could come up with. Viewers have a really small attention span, so one second clips of ads are the perfect thing to retain their attention.

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