Standing Out by Blending In
Stamps and posters are considered works of art by the graphic designers who create them and the fans who prize and collect them. But as functional media they also have a job to do, and that job just entered the digital age with the introduction of imperceptible codes hidden within the artwork.
"When I hand out my business card, the first thing people do is try their hardest to find the Digimarc tag. It’s still hard to believe how clean design can be now."
Endeavour Media, a Dutch digital marketing agency, has devised a way for stamps, posters and other widely available media to be aesthetically pleasing, while also powerfully interactive. Its mobile marketing platform, Cee Platform, allows smartphone users to scan media for Digimarc Barcodes that advertisers have packed with extras: more information, coupons, prizes, cross-promotions, virtually anything a barcode can do – only better. The codes don’t intrude on the artwork, and they can be cued to more than one element of a single image: for example, in a fashion ad, each item that a model is wearing, from earrings to sandals.
Modernizing the Traditional Barcode
"No artist wants a big black-and-white blob interfering with her or his concept," said Endeavour CEO and co-founder Babak Monfared of the drawbacks to QR codes and traditional barcodes. "Our clients find it much easier to start a conversation with creatives when they reassure them that the coding is imperceptible."
Endeavour developed its Cee App (short for chameleon, because of its ability to blend in) in partnership with Digimarc, creator of the Digimarc Barcode, whose technology allows for an interactive experience without getting in the way of the art.
"When I hand out my business card, the first thing people do is try their hardest to find the Digimarc code," Monfared said. "It’s still hard to believe how clean design can be now."
Singing Stamps and Talking Posters
One of Endeavour’s early creations was the first postage stamp with music, which it designed with the national post office of The Netherlands. The stamp was issued to mark the 50th anniversary of Golden Earring, a Dutch band famous for the single "Radar Love," a Top 10 hit in the 1970s. When users hold their smartphone loaded with Cee App up to the stamp, the song plays. In a country where music is wildly popular, the stamp itself became a hit.
Having succeeded at miniature scale, Endeavour went on to refine its app with the help of Digimarc’s publicly-available software development kit (SDK). One particularly creative application of the technology was launched in Bogota, Colombia, in 2014. It included posters for 400 international brands that appeared in bus shelters across the city. While they’re waiting, riders can interact with the posters to learn more about the brand, access videos or receive special offers. The ability for brands to deliver digital experiences to consumers in everyday settings underscores the immense reach and potential of Endeavour’s digital platform.
"Digimarc helped us design a solution that was easy for our customers to use and integrate," Monfared said. "There are always problems in innovation, but not in this project."
Like the chameleon for which its app is named, Endeavour Media continues to offer clients a subtle, yet powerful way to stand out: blend in.