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Privacy advocates may not be happy with brands tracking consumers online, but a Brazilian detergent brand is set to begin tracking customers in the real world. Starting next week, Omo is embedding 50 detergent boxes with GPS devices as part of a new video camera giveaway.

The campaign is sure to get Omo lots of attention, but the amount of privacy concessions necessary to make it all happen could prohibit GPS-enabled products from becoming a widely used marketing strategy.

The campaign is part of Omo's larger marketing strategy of "Try Something New." According to AdAge:

"Fifty Omo boxes implanted with GPS devices have been scattered around Brazil, and Mr. Figueiredo has teams in 35 Brazilian cities ready to leap into action when a box is activated. The nearest team can reach the shopper's home 'within hours or days,' and if they're really close by, 'they may get to your house as soon as you do,' he said.

"Once there, the teams have portable equipment that lets them go floor by floor in apartment buildings until they find the correct unit, he said."

There are backup plans in place if things do not go smoothly with the unsuspecting customers. If the customer is hesitant to let the marketing team into his/her home, the group can "remotely activate a buzzer in the detergent box so that it starts beeping." And if something goes wrong with the search, or it takes too long, the boxes come equipped with a note explaining the promotion and prize offering (essentially the traditional approach to such things.)

But Omo and their promotions agency Bullet are mostly interested in documenting the entire thing. Omo's products are already in 80% of Brazilian homes. This campaign is mostly intended to draw attention to the new stain-fighting Omo product.

The brand's website, with the tagline "try something new," in August will start documenting the details of the campaign, including a map with rough estimates of where the winners live, their pictures and video footage of the marketing team tracking down the owners of the GPS detergent.

The campaign is sure to bring attention to Omo. The technology cost Omo about $1 million of its $23 million marketing budget, which isn't be too outlandish. Especially considering the amount of press the company is set to receive for its efforts. 

But there are a few reasons to think GPS products will not catch on.

Last summer, Bullet carried off a very successful embedded marketing campaign, by sticking iPods in boxes of Unilever Fruttare Popsicles. But a surprise iPod amidst a box of popsicles is different than a company tracking customers' whereabouts.

The GPS plan basically uses a detergent purchase as implicit consent to be followed and taped. Sure, it's a fun little campaign for Omo to try and pull off. 

And confused Omo customers aren't likely to get too upset by the intrusion. But if this catches on, it would get old quickly. Sure, a free digital camera would be nice. But how many people want to be used as unpaid marketing extras for a product they didn't ask for? Probably not many.

Meghan Keane

Published 30 July, 2010 by Meghan Keane

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

721 more posts from this author

Comments (2)

Ling Khang Lee

Ling Khang Lee, eCommerce Development Analyst at Bankwest

Not sure about the effectiveness of this campaign. Of course you will get tangible results by tracking down a person that bought the product. I'm not convinced of the quality and willingness of the person that they track down, i.e. the person could've bought the product because it was the cheapest product on the shelf, or that there wasn't anything else to buy and not get any constructive feedback about the product. That's just me, or is it that I'm freaked out that they could do this with complementary products like toilet spray and barge in on me whilst I'm doing my business.

about 6 years ago

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Kidney Stone Treatment

There's already so many gps options out there. Why should this one be any better?

over 5 years ago

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