Why Circles.Life invested in a 3D metaverse billboard in Melbourne

Digital telco's marketing leader shares the objectives behind its new campaign featuring 3D avatars of its customers and influencer partners

Next-generation telco, Circles.Life, may have just taken its first big step into the metaverse, but “don’t expect us to be a telco metaverse, just expect us to be a telco that really supports our customers and delivers what they are looking for”, its CMO says.  

The telco today unveiled Australia’s first 3D billboard atop of Melbourne’s Emporium CBD shopping centre featuring customers and influencer partners as bespoke virtual avatars. Designed to showcase customers as the main character within their own story, the platform aims to give both cohorts the opportunity to share emotive messages with passers-by that matter to them, from love, hope and inspiration to raising awareness of their passion points.  

Influencers featured include creator and LGBTQI+ advocate, AJ Clementine; gaming influencer, Joel Bergs; fitness influencer, Teagan; and maximalist duo, Josh and Matt Design. Customers include Mary Georgiou, Hassaan Ahmed and Nicholas Gerardi, also known as drag queen, Ivana Kabab. Each appears either as full-body or head-only avatar on the billboard. Circles.Life worked with Invent and Mediahub to bring the campaign to life. The billboard is owned by oOh!Media.  

Circles.Life head of marketing, growth and experience, Emilie Chell, told CMO the metaverse was the topic on everyone’s lips right now.  

“To be able to do something like a 3D avatar billboard is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that we are a tech telco,” she said. “The campaign gives us an opportunity to deliver something remarkable and that gets people talking.  

“It’s not just an Australian but world-first to be able to feature ambassadors and customers and use this kind of motion capture software we’ve seen used in movies and gaming. We know these are the spaces where our customers are. And we’re doing that in a way that isn’t just making them animations but provides a true representation of each individual. Every movement they made has been translated into the metaverse using this technology.”    

Credit: Sean Paris

As a technology business, Chell said it’s important Circles.Life doesn’t shy away from challenging new ways of marketing. She pointed out the campaign was a first both for the telco’s out-of-home partner as well as agencies, and that more than 20 people across four countries were involved in putting it together.  

“When you see the background footage, it looks more like a James Cameron movie than an ad campaign. There were some sleepless nights as well, but it was really fun to do this,” Chell said. “But more than anything, it was about ensuring we did something that resonated with our audiences.  

“We are building a telco for today. Our audience isn’t interested in traditional ads, so it was incumbent on us to find new ways to reach out to them. Applying innovation to a traditional channel like out-of-home was important. These guys want a telco that behaves differently – this campaign is a way to show we are different.  

“So many telcos say they are customer-centric, but when the ads go out there it’s more about them. We want to show our customers they are front and centre. We call this ‘being the main character’ – when you see movie or games in billboards, they always feature the main character. If our customers are the main character, our billboards should feature them as well.”  

Consumer sweet spot  

According to Chell, Circles.Life’s sweet spot customer is the consumer who finds themselves at the edge of their data plan every month. As well as app-based interaction, the telco is looking to differentiate itself by offering more generous data-led plans at affordable prices.  

“We’re not necessarily looking for people to have their hand held on the journey but giving support they need in the spaces they need,” Chell explained. “That’s about transparency and control in the way they interact with us. Naturally that’s a younger audience at the moment. But they’re not as young as you think – 39-year-olds are also the millennials of today.”  

This certainly made the metaverse a natural fit for Circles.Life. “We have so many metaverse ideas it’s ridiculous. But part of being a scale-up is also really prioritising all our ideas,” Chell commented.  

“Everything has to be to support customers. So if there are amazing things we can do in our products, or our app, in response to what customers are asking for, we need to focus on that. So don’t expect us to be a telco metaverse, just expect us to be a telco that really supports our customers and delivers what our customers are looking for.”  

As to the choice of influencers Circles.Life is working with, Chell highlighted being socially led and content driven to foster a two-way conversation with consumers as the driving force.  

“We don’t see customers or influencers as demographics, it’s more attitudinal. It’s the behaviours we are looking for,” she said.    

This focus on passion points, along with consumer sentiment off the back of the Covid pandemic, also provided the momentum for the kinds of messages being displayed in the 3D billboard campaign. Messages on display include Josh and Matt Design's 'Explore your creativity, the world needs more of it" to Joel Berg's 'Remember to be the best version of yourself today'.

“We wanted to use this space for a bit of positivity and optimism. For example, one customer who is a mum working in a hospital and who hasn’t spent a lot of time with her kids used her message to say how proud she was of them,” Chell said. “The time is right for this - everyone is desperate for that positivity. It was a nice way to show we wanted to share their stories and bring optimism to the fore.”  

The starting point for the campaign was using a channel that was physical and traditional but in a new way. But given the fluctuations in lockdowns and consumer movement Australia has seen over the course of the pandemic so far, Chell said the team also needed to devise content that could be shared in social and digital spaces in the event consumers wouldn’t see the billboard in real life.  

“We coupled it with the fact that people really need an outlet to share a message and get out there,” she added. 

The campaign’s primary objective is brand positioning and building awareness of Circles.Life. But Chell said it’s also a chance to start to test the funnel.  

“We want to deliver seamless digital experiences as we get people through the funnel and ensure we’re giving them the right info at the right point in their journey,” she said. “We have many different metrics sitting behind this for us to start to build baselines, benchmarks and understand where to from here.”  

The 3D billboard will be live on the corner of Lonsdale Street and Swanston Street in Melbourne’s CBD until 27 February 2022, then on select rotation until 6 March. Its supporting through-the-line campaign is expected to run until the end of March.  

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