Some of the most interesting stuff in digital is where it blends into the physical world. I just got back from Cannes, where there was an intense interest in the blurring between digital and real-life experiences. The top winners in the Cyber category all, to some extent, involved the real world. Digital became the glue that held together the “Best Job in the World” Tourism Queensland campaign, Dark Knight alternate-reality game and Fiat eco:Drive system.
Nike’s new Livestrong campaign for the Tour de France has an interesting element that does this on a small scale. Much of the campaign is your typical fare: inspirational 30s and 60s, along with “Web films.” The idea is the fight against cancer is not about Lance Armstrong but about the millions who fight it everyday. The cool part is a robot. It’s called “Chalkbot” and was built by DeepLocal and StandardRobot. Chalkbot is a machine that can quickly write chalk messages on road surfaces. A tradition of the Tour de France is for spectators to urge riders on with messages written on the road. Nike is giving people the chance to go to WearYellow.com or Tweet or text their 40-character messages to be chalked on the roads in France. You’re asked to complete the sentence “It’s about…” They’ll then get an email with a link to a map showing where their message was chalked. Nike says it’ll chalk over 100,000 messages. I’m waiting to see where in France my message will live: “It’s about never giving up.”