15 December 2008

A simple solution

Sometimes I hear about an idea that I think is so cool that my entire day is made. One of these times was last Friday, when I saw this image on swissmiss:

If you're not in the mood to click on the image to read it all, I'll give you a summary. There is a chain of coffee shops in Holland called CoffeeCompany. They wanted to attract more students, so they introduced free WiFi to their stores near universities. You can probably guess what happened: a ton of students started showing up, but then they would sit there for hours on their computers and not really order anything to eat or drink.

From my limited experience... when this has turned into a problem in New York coffee shops, they take it away from us. Aroma – an espresso bar around the corner from Naked – turns off their WiFi from noon to 3pm. Blackbird Parlour in Williamsburg put a tiny sign over their electrical outlets asking patrons to kindly not use WiFi on Saturdays or Sundays. This kind of thing has always left me thinking "But that is part of the joy of a coffee shop for so many people!," but I didn't know what the alternative could be so that a) people would be happy, and b) the coffee shop would sustain their business.

crossroads smoothie

Enter THEY, an agency in Amsterdam. Their solution: renaming the WiFi networks every now and then to advertise food and drinks, instead of just calling it "CoffeeCompanyWiFi." So, when students would sit down, open their computers and search for the network, it might say

or "BuyCoffeeForCuteGirlOverThere?"
or "TodaysSpecialEspresso1,60Euro."

A tiny explosion went off in my head. And then my face lit up and I sent it to the entire office.

Reading through some of the comments on swissmiss, pparently this type of execution has been done before. But I love the CoffeeCompany example. It leveraged a nearly unexplored channel to address a business problem, rather than an "everything else is cluttered, where else can we stick our message" problem. Made me smile.
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