Virtual Push to Personalization


Ad Age has an informative article discussing Wendy’s new sponsership of ESPN’s “Voice of the Fan” chatroom (access available on the ESPN SportsNation chatroom page – Link); part of their new “Don’t Compromise. Personalize.” campaign. From the article (Link):

ESPN began running the avatar feature on Voice of the Fan last year, but the Wendy’s sponsorship is new.

Wendy’s International is the first brand to advertise on the Voice of the Fan and has created a contest around it.

“The Voice of the Fan is embedded in personalization,” said Michelle Fedurek, Wendy’s VP-media strategies. “We make hamburgers the way you want them — it was really a nice sync behind who we are as a brand.”

Voice of the Fan users can pass on a link for their friends to create their own avatars. So far, the open rate for the pass-alongs is 70%. About 30% of those who receive the link in turn and create their own avatars.

Interesting development. I guess Wendy’s was jealous of the branded-burger avatars available on Yahoo (see my earlier post – Link). Ad Age points out that users/avatars can put on “a T-shirt emblazoned with a Wendy’s hamburger or the fast-food chain’s logo (but not, sadly, the pigtailed Wendy’s girl).” Sadly, is right. I suspect that would give users a bit too much control to … “Personalize” things. A shame.

Imagine if the interactivity specifically included the ability to make a mess of your avatar (just holding the burger doesn’t cut the mustard, folks). Imagine users being able to communicate how much in degrees they like Wendy’s by adding ketchup stains? I’m not sure if Oddcast’s technology allows for that level of interactivity… but it should.


For those unfamiliar with the Oddcast technology being used, it’s worth checking out (Link). For anyone who remembers the McDonald’s AI experiment-thing revealed in October 2003 (I barely recall it, tbh), this is the same company. If you don’t recall the AI campaign, check out both the site (Link) and a couple of not-too-flattering reviews (Link 1 and Link 2).

Most especially however, be sure to check out the “Clients” section on Oddcast’s site for some nice links. You might notice something that has piqued my interest: some avatars remind me of a Jib Jab cut-n-paste animation whereas other stuff looks like 3D geometry exported to vector graphics. For an example of the vector look, check the detail of the above image taken from the ESPN site. And for an example of something that looks like it came straight from an old Monty Python show, check out the IBM/Lenovo website image below (taken from the engaging “Which Side Are You On” website – Link).


My first thought is that the technology is leveraging some of the relatively recent tools for exporting 3D animations to Flash-based 2D vector images, and that perhaps they’re moving increasingly toward 3D (which they probably are). Only the IBM/Lenovo website is relatively new, so it appears a choice was made; maybe even a more expensive choice.

When the 3D content is done, automation (e.g. auto-lip sync) probably lowers costs considerably. So it’s possible that the IBM/Lenovo website using animated 2D was more expensive than going with 3D. And when choice enters the equation, that’s usually a good sign. Wendy’s even has a new ad campaign about it.

{Top two images Copyright © 2005 ESPN Internet Ventures; bottom image Copyright © Lenovo; and there’s more…

Wendy’s name, design, and logo, “Do What Tastes Right” and “Don’t Compromise, Personalize” are trademarks of Oldemark, LLC and are licensed to Wendy’s International, Inc.}