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Introducing Elf & Seek; Britain’s biggest Augmented Reality-powered Christmas treasure hunt. Elf and Seek is an AR-powered game that encourages families to scour the UK to find a collection of lost elves using their phones and return them to Santa to save Christmas.


> The Challenge

Christmas is a time we all look forward to, but 2022 was different. As the cost-of-living crisis dominated news headlines as well as people’s headspace, over half of Britain felt anxious and worried about the festive season.

In fact, over a third of parents were planning on managing their children’s expectations that Christmas as they struggled to pay the bills.

Whilst most big brands prepared themselves for the ‘Christmasbowl’, Vodafone was faced with a choice; put out a big TV campaign that made people feel warm and fuzzy about the brand, or actively lift people’s spirits by bringing some Christmas fun to families. We opted for the latter.

> The Solution

Christmas is full of traditions and rituals that families love to engage in together; from visiting Winter Wonderland to taking a special trip to Santa’s grotto. Whilst all these things cost money, we were inspired by one ritual in particular; Elf on the Shelf and so we decided to create our own.

Introducing Elf & Seek; Britain’s biggest Augmented Reality-powered Christmas treasure hunt.

Elf and Seek is an AR powered game that encourages families to scour the UK to find a collection of lost elves using their phones and return them to Santa to save Christmas.

In true gaming style there was a narrative around the game that really brought the magic of Christmas alive.

> How It Works

Users sign up for the game and are introduced to the world of the Vodafone digital Elves, and the mission to get them back to Santa. Through their phone’s browser, a unique candy cane token is dropped nearby and when found, users can search their surroundings in AR to reveal one of six unique elves that can be returned safe and soundly to Santa – and may give a gift as a thank you!

Dropping Candy Canes close to new users let everyone play from home, while more Candy Canes were dropped around city centres and high footfall areas to encourage the eager to go out and hunt for prizes.

The Candy Canes and Elves were created as NFTs on a private blockchain, ensuring that each one was unique to the user that found them and a user could truly ‘collect’ each of the six elves.

> Amplification

On launch day the elves took over Heart FM. We needed to get the word out to the UK that the Elves needed to get back home! Heart FM brought the Elves’ message to Amanda Holden and Jamie Theakston’s on-air audience of 4.3 million listeners, with a host of talent and influencers introducing the elves to millions, encouraging people to play the game and find the elves.

We made people seek out our advertising by turning them into clues –We wanted to entice the UK into playing, and we used OOH placements alongside a stream of social posts across the campaign period to drop clues about the next Candy Cane appearances.

We coordinated our social posts with specific Candy cane drops, hinting at possible locations for bigger prizes, and our digital 6 sheets in city centres encouraged people to explore their immediate area, with Candy Canes hidden in places like Christmas markets or around schools at home time.

> Results

The game had over 100k active players within the first three days of launch and attracted over 245k people in total to play the game. Each player spent an average of 2 minutes playing the Elf and Seek game per session and with the Vodafone brand, saving over 270,000 elves and claiming over 20,000 prizes.

Positive social sentiment reached an all-time high at 63% with the elves being mentioned over 4k times on social media.

Could we have created a new Christmas ritual? Not only did the game make people feel joyful with 94% of players saying the game brought Christmas cheer but also 76% said they could not wait to play the game again next year.

We made people feel good about Vodafone, with a 20% increase in brand love. Brand consideration for Vodafone increased by 4%pts, doubling the category average increase of 2%pts (Source: ICE Brand Uplift Study).

Contributor:

Dentsu Creative UK has been a Contributor since 7th August 2017.

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