In a new campaign to promote its best-selling toy Cozmo, the team at robotics startup Anki tapped Wieden+Kennedy’s creative technology arm W+K Lodge to create Reddit’s first-ever interactive live-stream activation. Starting today from 1-7 p.m. EST, Reddit will host Cozmo Lost In Reddit, a game where Redditors guide Cozmo through seven subreddits (r/hailcorporate, r/memeeconomy, r/gaming, r/rarepuppers, r/showerthoughts, r/shittyrobots, r/whatcouldgowrong) that have all been turned into physical rooms.
In the vein of choose-your-own-adventure experiences, Redditors will be presented with options for what Cozmo should do, and whichever gets the most votes will decide Cozmo’s actions.
It’s a rather bold step for Anki–not just for the scale of the campaign, but also for its location as well.
The Reddit community has long been a space where marketers have feared to tread. Whether it’s an AMA session that goes up in flames or a tragic stab at meme culture, ham-fisted sales pitches are bad enough, but bring them to Reddit’s doorstep and that campaign will go viral for all the wrong reasons. However, if done correctly, the rewards of brand awareness and consumer goodwill can be plentiful. For Cozmo Lost In Reddit, W+K Lodge and Anki at least attempted to do their due diligence with qualitative research and by working closely with Reddit to ensure a worthwhile experience for Redditors.
“We believe there’s way more potential for advertising than three-second videos. The best ads on Reddit are ones that unlock Reddit’s communal creativity, and this campaign does exactly that,” says Joe Federer, senior brand strategist at Reddit. “When advertisers can add value to Reddit communities by creating incredible experiences like this, offering compelling content, or even just facilitating interesting conversations, they’ll find success on the platform. Reddit is all about community, and we’ve seen advertisers become integral parts of those communities.”
Given the competition in the toy market with giants like Hasbro or Mattel, Craig Rechenmacher, Anki’s CMO, says Anki’s marketing strategy needs to find an edge that will make a product like Cozmo stand out, particularly in the upcoming advertising blitz of the holiday season.
“We’re a startup, so we have to look for very interesting activations that get attention–and we feel like this is one of those opportunities,” he says. “We like to say we push the boundaries of what’s possible. That doesn’t just go with product development–that’s also on the marketing side.”
And for Paulo Ribeiro, managing director of W+K Lodge, Cozmo Lost In Reddit is a prime example of what he sees as a growing trend in marketing–and one that, if executed properly, can pass muster even within a community as discerning as Reddit’s.
“Sometimes words fail,” Ribeiro says. “I think experiential work like this is the best way to get people to really understand something that’s new. We’re doing a lot of work like that, making something cool so people can actually experience the new thing, and I think it’s going to be more and more necessary.”