Spray it Forward: Kenneth Cole Taps Google Glass for Good Deeds Campaign


Combining wearable tech, a modern “stand-up” guy and a pay-it-forward ethos, Kenneth Cole’s “Man Up for Mankind Challenge” asks men to perform a “gentlemanly deed” every day for the next three weeks—21 Days, 21 Deeds—in return for eligibility to win a Mankind toolkit valued at $1,000.

While Diane Von Furstenberg was the first fashion designer to put Google Glass on the runway, as she did during her New York Fashion Week show in 2012, Kenneth Cole is aiming to be Google Glass fashion pioneer of another sort, but featuring the app in a campaign for its new Mankind fragrance. (L’Oreal, meanwhile, is using the device internally, as a teaching tool for its network of stylists.)

Once Kenneth Cole’s augmented reality app is downloaded, users of the geek chic wearable computer will receive an alert in their viewfinder with a reminder of that day’s deed, such as the gentlemanly “offer to carry a lady’s bag,” “buy a stranger a coffee,” or “donate old clothes to a local shelter.”

They’re being encouraged to snap and share photos of themselves in action on a dedicated site and to tweet their deeds during the three-week challenge with the hashtag #manupformankind. Non-Glass wearers can participate using a smartphone or digital camera, too.[more]

For Kenneth Cole, it’s less about the cool tech than it is the spirit of the campaign: expressing its values by enabling small acts of kindness in an aspirational yet achievable way.

“The Mankind fragrance and concept is designed for the guy who knows what he wants and expresses it daily through his actions, style and overall essence,” said Kenneth Cole, Chairman and CEO of the namesake brand. “This man is performance driven yet understands the importance of achieving balance in his life, whether in his career, relationships or community.”

Ready Set Rocket, the agency behind the campaign, chose to extend it to Google Glass to address the growing mobile-first sentiment among consumers, partner Aaron Harvey told brandchannel

“Brand experiences are shifting from platform-specific to multi-platform as brands and wearable tech strive for a shared voice in a consumer’s day,” Harvey said. “Off-screen, off-desktop, it’s all about mobile-first. The challenge to brands is to focus the message, make it more refined—natural, but also value-add.”

As in-app ads on Google Glass remain excluded for now, “it’s a welcome challenge for marketers to develop ad products with authenticity,” Harvey said, “like contextual ads, connected to my social network. If I like Ann Taylor, as I pass by a store, offers and promotions would appear in my viewfinder as an overlay.” 

With only about 10,000 to 20,000 Google Glass “explorers” with current access to the glasses, and a hefty price tag of $1,500, Google Glass still has a long way to go before it’s used—and accepted—by the masses.

For one thing, Google has a long list of privacy concerns and “best practices” to sort through before the device hits the mainstream. It took an initial step recently when it released Google Glass usage guidelines to keep wearers out of harm’s way and out of others’ business. 

Google Glass is also looking to get more fashionable itself—hence the tie-ins with fashion brands, insiders and platforms such as Vogue—with new designs in the pipeline to make them less nerdy-looking and more Warby Parker chic.

Once marketers and brands figure it out, Google Glass aims to be top of mind for brand integration and advertising. 

“Stop thinking of [augmented reality] as a business. It’s a browser,” John Havens, founder of the H(app)athon Project, told Mashable. “If this was 1992 and I told you there was something called a web browser that was going to change advertising, would you believe me? Yet that’s what happened.”

Indeed, it’s a bit ironic that the looming “consumer-brand mind meld” would appear on a pair of glasses right before our eyes.

Connect with Sheila on Twitter: @srshayon