Does the Digital Experience Need Humanizing?

Jun 21, 2013

As part of ongoing attempts to "humanize technology” through emotive digital experiences, Burberry has teamed with Google to create Burberry Kisses, allowing users to send virtual kisses to anyone in the world. Google’s Art, Copy & Code designed and executed the project.

Upon logging onto, users "pucker up" in front of their webcam. Kiss-detection technology finds the outline of their actual lips, which they can choose to virtually color with Burberry lipstick shades (or none at all) before e-mailing a personalized message. The envelope with the message will ‘fly’ from their city to the receiver’s destination across a 3D landscape. Smoochers can also be sent via smart phones or tablets by kissing the screen.

The kiss envelope, which can be shared across social media or kept private, can then be followed to its destination via a Google Earth and Street View technology. Maps on the site show the latest kisses moving around the world and which cities are getting the most action.

[Image: Introducing Burberry Kisses]

Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s chief creative officer, said in a statement, "We’re constantly thinking about how we translate the emotion of what we create and experience in the real world into the digital space, whether that’s capturing the energy and excitement of a live gig, the hum and buzz of anticipation before a runway show, or just the feeling you get when you pull on your trench coat on a rainy morning."

Burberry Kisses is the third project from Art, Copy & Code, an extension of Google’s Project Re:Brief experiment last year. Both efforts are designed to show how emotional storytelling can work just as well online as it does in traditional media.

Google first partnered with Volkswagen to create “Smileage,” a mobile app that allows passengers to share their road trip experiences through photos, videos, games and social commentary via interactive maps. A Smileage meter measures the fun factor of each trip, based on weather, traffic, location, time, and social interactions.

The second project with Adidas was the Talking Shoe, which premiered at this year’s SXSW but reportedly isn’t being planned for sale. Beyond measuring speed and performance, the smart shoe sends motivational messages in snarky undertones from a microcontroller-connected speaker on the shoe that can also be shared across social web.

Regarding Burberry Kisses, Aman Govil, art, copy and code project lead at Google, said in a blog entry, "With this project, we’ve tried to create a beautiful experience that comes to life across all screens, and helps connect you to the people who are important to you, wherever they are."

Do you see emotional storytelling becoming more integral to digital advertising? What challenges does digital face in supporting brand expression and engagement at the same level as traditional media? What advantage may social media’s reach add?

Join the Discussion!

9 Comments on "Does the Digital Experience Need Humanizing?"

Notify of

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Mike Osorio
Mike Osorio
4 years 3 months ago

As a retailer that has the pleasure of working with Burberry on multiple projects, I can tell you they are the masters of the digital space. They consistently devise new and innovative ways to utilize all the various aspects of the digital space to enhance their brand, connect emotionally with their consumer, and drive extraordinary brand engagement and loyalty. This is just the latest in a series of amazing and effective digital efforts. Bravo Burberry!!

To answer the questions, emotional storytelling jumps in importance in relation to the complexity of the brand offer. Luxury brands like Burberry are among the most complex offers and emotive storytelling is critical to connect the brand to the consumer over time. Burberry does it brilliantly over all consumer touchpoints—digital and physical. One can’t exist without the other.

Ken Lonyai

First—as a purveyor of digital systems that incorporate up to all 5 senses interactively, we’re often questioned about what’s a gimmick and what’s legitimate marketing. I won’t pose that question here because this demonstrates that anything that attracts brand attention is a legitimate marketing practice.

Storytelling, well done, is emotional, evocative, and moving, so yes it should always be approached with the goal of engaging users emotionally.

I don’t see any challenges for digital when it comes to brand expression and engagement, I see opportunities.

Adrian Weidmann

Emotional connections are everything! It’s the emotional connections that define brand, loyalty and ‘stickiness’. Technology should be integrated into shopper marketing solutions only to enable or evoke an emotional response. Combining this with great storytelling and communicating this as ‘transmedia’ to the digitally connected shopper should be the objective of every brand!

Kenneth Leung

What technology and devices add to digital marketing are the abilities to create new type of experiences, and user interface designers and marketers to figure out how to take advantage of it (In Burberry’s case, kissing versus taking a picture and sending) with innovative use cases to make it work. As devices become more personal (we eat with it, sleep with it), the ability to create intimate emotional experiences with devices will be more prevalent.

Ralph Jacobson

This is called, “connecting with your consumer.” As technologies continue to advance, we have no idea what will become commonplace only two years from now. Digital media is the opportunity, not the challenge. It is more flexible and adaptable to changing tastes of consumers. Add to that the limitless capabilities and reach of social media and you have a captive audience that will exhibit true loyalty to the brands that provide a compelling experience.

Vahe Katros

If it’s advertising, it relies on emotions and storytelling – the challenge is keeping your job as an innovator as you try to adapt to the new new. But, these are just attempts by me to channel Don Draper – whose best fit quote (I just checked) was: “Change is neither good or bad, it simply is.”

Zel Bianco

Advertising relays a message or tells a story to a target audience, so it’s not inconceivable that digital advertising is looking to connect in more meaningful ways. With technology that detects smiles and phones that respond to questions vocally, it’s not a far jump to send kisses through an app. I see the biggest challenge as driving awareness. The novelty factor will push this idea initially with people testing it out just because it’s new. I predict mass amounts being sent on Valentine’s Day.

Vahe Katros

In the words of Columbo, “one more thing….”

Vahe: What do you think of this Burberry Kiss application? (I explain)

Woman Friend: “When I pass buy the Burberry counter at Neiman’s, they ask if I want to try their makeup and I just say no. Understand that this stuff is expensive and their packaging, while beautiful, breaks, is too fragile, and you are left with makeup you can’t carry in your purse without having your lidless eyeshadow or blush spread powder all over your purse. Unlike Chanel, which never breaks and is bullet proof.”

The moral of the story: (1) If you make lousy cosmetics packaging and you want to market them through ‘kiss applications’ make sure you have something to remove the powder from the smart phone screen (2) Voice of the customer research, especially with lost customers, might be another technology to consider – I am not thinking a Kiss here, more three fingered salute.

Christopher Krywulak
Christopher Krywulak
4 years 3 months ago

The risk in connecting emotions (like kisses) with digital advertising is that consumers may dismiss the ad as being too fake or gimmicky. On the flip side, of course, is the reward of such an ad succeeding in making that digital-emotional connection with the consumer: That’s what all advertising and branding initiatives set out to do in the first place. So that’s the challenge: expressing that emotion genuinely so that consumers will actually connect with it and with your brand. Have you seen the latest iPhone camera ads on TV? These ads accomplish that mission: the ads convey the global sentimentality, the spontaneity and the humanity of being able to take a mobile photo of absolutely anything you find meaningful in your day and sharing that photo with people you care about. The reach advantage of social media goes without saying: viral potential.


Take Our Instant Poll

How much of an advantage does traditional media currently have over digital media in driving brand engagement through emotional storytelling?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...