If You’re Not Doing Mobile Like These Brands, You’re Doing it Wrong

In the early days of mobile marketing, many wondered whether it would be possible to create experiences people actually enjoyed on such a small screen. Back in 2010, even Steve Jobs, godfather of the iPhone, famously went out of his way to declare, “Mobile advertising really sucks.”

Fortunately, in the years that have followed, we’ve seen the screens get bigger and the advertising get a whole lot more creative.

Here are four brands that used awesome apps and attention-grabbing video to go way beyond running a tiny banner ad at the bottom of the screen:


True to the Tokyo-based retailer’s aesthetic, Uniqlo has a suite of really cool mobile apps that fuse simple, elegant design with great functionality.

My favorite of them is the Uniqlo Recipe app, which provides users with inspiration they can use in both the wardrobe and the kitchen. The app has easy-to-follow recipes from a number of professional chefs, alongside photos of the chefs in tasteful outfits and video interviews in which they discuss their cooking philosophies.

In addition to being super useful for novice cooks like myself, the app uses a clean design and bright, colorful photos to show how someone’s personal style is reflected not only in what they wear but in what they do.


Another popular one is the Uniqlo Wake Up alarm clock app, which ties the brand into the first moment of users’ days by waking them with relaxing music that varies based on the weather. It also allows people to track how much sleep they’ve gotten.
As Gigaom founder Om Malik put it in a review on his site, “It is so wonderful and delightful and meets my very simple requirement from an app: high emotional quotient…this is a perfect brand extension vehicle and what brand-advertising should be in the future.”

Guide Dogs Association of the Blind

Last year, the Singaporean non-profit Guide Dogs Association of the Blind (GDAB) teamed up with ad agencies Y&R, VML, and UDKU to create an incredible mobile app that helps blind people understand their surroundings. The app, “Guide Dots,” uses information from Facebook places, Google Maps, and Apple’s iBeacon to provide audio cues to users to let them know whether they are passing a train station, clothing store, or even an ice cream shop.

The app also uses Facebook check-ins to let people know if any of their friends happen to be nearby. In creating the app, GDAB went above and beyond to help visually impaired people “see”, even if the organization wasn’t able to provide them with a guide dog right away. The publicity the app generated—it has been shortlisted for several awards—also drew additional attention to GDAB’s cause. You can check out this video to see the technology in action:


One of the awesome things about brands’ mobile apps is how they allow companies to extend an existing campaign to people’s most personal devices with a fresh, interactive experience.

That’s exactly what Chipotle did when it paired its beautiful animated film on the evils of factory farming with a mobile game that is both fun and informative. The game takes full advantage of mobile’s unique features by asking players to tilt their devices in order to control an anthropomorphic scarecrow as he attempts to escape a bleak food-processing factory.


Along the way, users learn about the poor conditions Chipotle’s competitors keep their animals in and the unhealthful ingredients they put in their food. This sets Chipotle apart as a brand that provides customers with good, ethically sourced ingredients.

Tim Nudd from Adweek hit the nail on the head when he wrote, “Branded entertainment goes doesn’t get much more well-rounded or better executed than this.”


Who says print is dead?

In Brazil, the skincare brand Nivea linked a magazine ad with a mobile app to help parents keep tabs of their children when they were at the beach in Rio de Janeiro.

Here’s how it worked: The magazine ads were outfitted with a sensor that could be torn out and worn around the wrist of a child like a bracelet. Then, parents who downloaded Nivea’s app could set a limit for how far away their children were allowed to roam and get an alert whenever their children exceeded it. Then, the parents could use the app’s radar to find their kids.


In doing so, Nivea showed parents that it was just as interested in protecting their children from running away or wandering into the water as it was in protecting the adults from sunburn with its skincare products.

We’ve Come a Long Way

It may have been true that mobile advertising “sucked” in 2010, but if nothing else, these mobile executions show that Steve Jobs’s proclamation wouldn’t be accurate for very long.

Both in the United States and in countries around the world, we are seeing companies use mobile to increase brand loyalty and influence consumer behavior through custom-built experiences people love.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go beat the next level of Chipotle’s Scarecrow game.

About the Author

Aaron Taube

Aaron Taube is a freelance writer and reporter based in New York City. Prior to striking out on his own, he worked as a staff writer at Business Insider, where he covered the digital advertising industry and workplace issues; he was also a researcher/reporter hybrid at Law360, a news service for corporate attorneys.

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