Dell: Dell “Play Through” Mobile App

Campaign Summary

As a computer technology company, Dell is always looking to bolster its reputation for thought leadership in the IT industry, and to engage its audience in more innovative, technology-driven ways. For its first year as a title sponsor of the 2016 PGA Match Play tournament, the brand wanted to showcase the deep-rooted connection between golf and technology through a mobile gaming app. The Play Through app was an innovative, first-of-its-kind mobile experience that transformed downtown Austin, Texas into a virtual golf course. The mobile experience has been key in building a lasting connection between Dell, technology, and golf.


Objective and Context:

For its first year as a title sponsor of the 2016 PGA Match Play tournament, Dell wanted to establish a connection between the brand and golf. The brand set out to explore the relationship between golf and technology, and in doing so celebrate Dell's PGA sponsorship in a way that was innovative and engaging for the brand's audience.

Target Audience:

Dell's target for this initiative was business leaders — specifically, senior business executives who heavily influence technology purchase decisions and would be attending the PGA tournament in Austin, Texas. These people were high-value customers and prospects who were invited by Dell to be part of the tournament experience. They are also a notoriously difficult audience to penetrate, since they are busy people who are constantly being marketed to. Traditional advertising would not be sufficient. Dell needed to find a way to connect with its target demographic on a human level.

Creative Strategy:

Golf is one of the oldest sports in the world, with traditions and heritage that have remained largely untouched. Moreover, it is one of the few sports that technology hasn't affected in a huge way — at least, that was the perception. The reality, however, is that beneath the old school surface, the sport has an undeniable tie to technology. Golf is a game of precision, and outcomes can be defined by fractions of centimeters. Sinking a putt is the culmination of an infinite number of variables, such as the player's height, stance and distance from the hole, the slope and incline of the green, and the wind speed and direction. All of this data is critical to perfecting technique, manufacturing equipment, and building courses — and it requires big data analytics and all of the hardware and software that make these computations possible. Based on this insight, Dell's strategy was to showcase the deep-rooted connection between golf and technology through a mobile gaming app. This would give people the chance to experience the role data plays in golf, to see and interact with this connection, and to explore the possibilities that technology can enable.


Overall Campaign Execution:

Dell created a mobile gaming experience that used data to take golf out of the country club and onto the streets of Austin, the location of the tournament and Dell's hometown. The game, called the Dell Play Through app, was a mobile experience that transformed downtown Austin into a virtual golf course and people's phones into golf clubs. Never before had golf been taken off the traditional greens and onto a course that was 100 percent powered by technology.

Dell partnered with golf expert and Golf Channel host Matt Ginella to design the course through the streets of Austin. Once the app was created, the brand's mission was to get people to download the app and play it. During the South by Southwest festival, Dell sent a street team to spread the word and encourage people to tee up. It created a teaser video featuring Ginella swinging his phone past the Texas Capitol Building. The app was also a centerpiece of the Dell Match Play tournament where influencers like company founder Michael Dell, actor Adrian Grenier, and tennis player Andy Roddick took swings and shared their experiences.

Mobile Execution:

The game leveraged mobile phone capabilities in groundbreaking new ways. It used the built-in gyroscope and accelerometer to let players actually swing their phones like golf clubs, and integrated GPS technology to pull in location, weather, distance, and other external data points to make the experience of the game as real-time, interactive, and technology-driven as possible. It used the mapping data in Google Street View to lay the course out virtually in the streets. Dell also layered in real-time Foursquare venue data, so that Austin's hottest restaurants, bars, and landmarks became tee boxes, hazards, and greens. In addition to regular game play, players could challenge their friends to a round of golf by logging in through Facebook. A GPS-based long-drive contest created a grassy tee area at the user's nearest cross street, inviting them to hit a monster drive through their neighborhood, anywhere in the U.S.

Results (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

Days after its launch, thousands of people had downloaded Dell Play Through for iPhone or Android. In a few weeks, customers and prospects who had come to the Match Play tournament in Austin had hit 114,000 virtual tee shots and played 13,049 holes.

Word of Dell Play Through's unique blend of entertainment and technology quickly spread. The media were quick to pick up on this innovative experience and wrote more than a dozen articles in the first week alone, garnering over nine million earned media impressions throughout the campaign. The teaser video generated two million views across golf sites and social media, and the app was awarded the Mobile of the Day by FWA. This initiative helped Dell quickly increase its position as a leader in the IT industry, and ultimately, the brand saw a 33 percent increase in perceptions of it being a "leader in the IT industry."

Categories: Location Based | Industries: Telecommunictions, Computers & Technology | Objectives: Location Based | Awards: Silver Winner