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Non-profit organisation Plan UK has installed a digital billboard on London’s Oxford Street which only displays its full content to women.
Plan’s ‘Because I am A Girl’ campaign aims to raise awareness of the issues faced by world’s poorest women, and prevents men from viewing the content to mirror the fact that girls “are denied choices and opportunities on a daily basis due to poverty and discrimination.”
The billboard uses facial recognition software with an HD camera to determine the gender of the person standing in front of it, and claims to have a 90% success rate.
Women are then shown a 40 second ‘Choices For Girls’ ad showcasing the lives of three 13-year-old girls, while men are only shown a link to Plan’s website.
But while the interactive billboard is certainly providing Plan with some useful press coverage, does the novelty value of the technology indicate that it probably doesn’t have legs as a useful marketing tool?
Plan UK CEO Marie Staunton said the ad is a deliberate attempt to raise public debate, and while it should achieve this aim it would be interesting to see whether it has any success in driving donations.
Last month Intel unveiled similar technology for consumer brands that want to tailor their adverts to different demographics. Adidas was the first to use it in a virtual footwear sales wall.
Intel's technology displays different products depending on demographic profiles, and also collects useful data for marketers on who is stopping to look at adverts.
But while an instore display is useful in providing consumers with product information, especially when coupled with an interactive sales platform, putting this in use at a busy bus stop can surely only have PR value? Even though Plan seems to be ticking all the boxes to get maximum impact from its campaign.
Plan's advert contains a QR code to route viewers through to a donation page – though we haven’t tested whether the page is mobile optimised – and displays a Twitter hashtag so the campaign can be shared through social media.
But while busy commuters and tired shoppers may be interested in finding out if it can accurately guess their gender, but how many will really hang around to watch a 40-second ad? And how many will then be moved to donate?
The billboard, which is positioned at a bus stop opposite Selfridges, cost £30,000 for a two-week installation - so it doesn’t come cheap. And while the technology may work as an expensive PR stunt, the tangible benefits for consumer brands are still to be proven.