Johannes Leonardo is testing New York techies. The WPP agency has posted pieces of an ad in and around the subway system in the hopes that twittering New Yorkers will work together to solve the puzzle it has created. It's an interesting experiment. But will New Yorkers take the bait?

So far they appear to be interested. Johannes Leonardo has spread 40 images on subway posters throughout downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn. Emblazoned with the Twitter hashtag #undergroundpuzzle, they will cumulatively compose an ad for an as yet undisclosed advertiser. And New Yorkers appear to be intrigued. Some are snapping pictures of the posters and uploading them to Twitter.

According to Creativity, the image will be explicit when it is revealed. Meaning that Johannes Leonardo could be swiftly bypassing regulations on public indecency with the project. But relying on the curiosity of New Yorkers to solve their puzzle might be asking a lot.

For those who follow UGPuzzle, they can play along and seek out new pieces to the puzzle around the city. Like these:

It would be safe to assume that this brand wants to target audience of young, tech enabled urbanites. Anyone without a smart phone or a Twitter handle is generally excluded from participating. Johannes Leonardo expects it will take New Yorkers about a month to solve the puzzle and is doling out clues on new puzzle pieces from its Twitter feed.

But will the company start providing incentives for participating? It's an interesting idea, but New Yorkers are a cynical bunch. Without getting something in return for their efforts, they may be hesitant to use their Twitter feed to participate in someone else's attempt at viral marketing. 

And if New Yorkers don't want to take the time to look around the city for clues, helpful reminders and clues from UGPuzzle could quickly become a nuisance. Furthermore, there could be a passive crowd mentality to contend with. Why run all over the New York subway system to find these images when you can sit back and Google them after someone else has done the work?

Either way, it's an interesting approach and we'll have to wait and see if New Yorkers' curiosity satisfies or disappoints the as yet unknown advertiser funding the project.

Images: UGPuzzle, elysesads

Meghan Keane

Published 6 April, 2010 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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Comments (2)

Daryl Irvine

Daryl Irvine, Digital Creative Director at The Walker Agency

People 'waste' a lot of their lives online - this is no different and a very interesting idea so I see no reason for it not to work. There is the 'challenge' itself to drive activity, social interaction in order to source and share 'finds' and ultimately collective satisfaction of being part of the community that 'discovered' the truth. It appeals on every level and I for one am impressed!

over 8 years ago

Billie Andersen

Billie Andersen, User Experience Consultant at Foviance

What an innovative concept, it will be really interesting to see  if this is a hit.  While the vast majority of those interested in the campaign will be passive, it will only take a small number of those engaged enough to participate for it to be a success.

over 8 years ago

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