Facial Recognition and Experiential Marketing

January 10, 2018 | Uncategorized


Facial recognition technologies are popping up in unexpected products all over CES 2018: Hanwha’s Wisenet facial recognition security cameras, Byton’s Smart SUV that uses personalized tech to unlock doors, and Bellus3D’s new products that integrate facial recognition with Android smartphones to name a few. And, staying true to our industry's quick adaptation of integrating the coolest new technologies, facial recognition systems are quickly being added to the event marketer’s toolkit. As the use of biometrics continues to gain traction in events, the technology, which generally involves scanning a person’s face and matching it against a library of known faces, is now being leveraged as a marketing tactic. Are you a retailer looking for a way to instantly recognize customers and offer targeted deals based on their buying preferences. Or a festival organizer seeking a more efficient check-in process? Facial recognition technology just might be the solution—and its applications abound.

Take South African coffee company Douwe Egberts, for instance, which leveraged facial recognition technology for its Bye Bye Red Eye campaign. The brand set up a coffee vending machine at O.R. Tambo International Airport. The key to snagging a free cup of joe? A yawn. The machine was equipped with facial recognition software that could detect the exact moment of a yawn, and instantly rewarded the sleepy subject with a free coffee. Word quickly spread around the airport, and it wasn’t long before weary travelers were lining up to get a taste of both the product and the technology.

Over the last few months, Lancôme has also introduced the technology to young beauty buffs at trade shows and pop-up shops. To attract a younger audience and promote its Monsieur Big Mascara, the brand offered a custom facial recognition kiosk where consumers could register for the experience. The kiosk captured their likeness in addition to makeup and style preferences, contact information and social media handles. (Data capture? Check.) At the end of the journey, consumers returned to the kiosk, where gestural smart mirror technology and the facial recognition data worked in tandem to deliver a virtual makeup try-on experience, along with personalized product recommendations and customized digital content.

Mazda’s billboard at Toronto’s Royal Bank Plaza, ahead of the Canadian International Auto Show, was another killer application of the technology. Using a combination of crowd detection and facial recognition software, the brand’s digital sign played a 15-second video that showcased the new MX-5 RF from multiple angles. Custom software allowed the billboard to detect each time a passerby turned to look at the car by identifying when someone was in the vicinity of the board, then verifying through a variety of algorithms that the individual had turned their head towards the sign’s hidden camera. Meanwhile, a screen display kept a running count of how many heads were turned. In just two days, the tally approached 15,000.

And then there’s DiGiorno, Nestlé’s frozen pizza brand, which recently used facial recognition and emotion tracking software to measure consumers’ reactions to pizza to show how its product elevates social occasions. The brand recruited 24 average people to host three separate pizza parties at a loft in New York City. At each event, 40-plus high-res cameras recorded attendees’ reactions to a DiGiorno pie. The footage was then processed using custom software that analyzed guests’ expressions in response to the smell and sight of the pizza. Results revealed that attendees’ attitudes were improved when they smelled the pizza as it was being baked, and improved even further when they were actually eating it. The brand also discovered that guests’ moods improved by 20 percent when the pie was taken out of the oven—a mouthwatering strategy, for sure.

The benefits of leveraging facial recognition systems in event marketing are many. And as the technology advances, it will only provide further opportunities for brands to build more efficient live experiences, and connect with their audience in new ways. Sort of brings a whole new meaning to face-to-face marketing, doesn’t it? 


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Posted by Kristy Elisano | Request as a Speaker

Caffeine dependent Jersey girl. Inspired by creative risk takers and underdogs. Chief Marketing Officer, Doodle owner and lover of all things chocolate.