Digital | Social | Travel

The Tonight Show | A look at the treasure hunt mechanic

Whilst travelling, I’ve been observing how UK, EU and US brands are currently handling digital and posting some of my finds. The series kicked off with Revlon and today we’re looking at The Tonight Show.

It’s no secret that The Tonight Show has seen great success integrating Social Media into their line-up. The show makes effective use of several social media platforms, hashtags and user-generated content in order to attract a younger audience. They’re playing with consumers on Vine, Twitter, Snapchat, Youtube and Facebook. Meme’s, gifs and a slick content strategy – their social team is all over it.  We’ve seen hits like the #hashtag song with JT, strong use of user-generated content and even a weekly, New York based #ticketsat12 treasure hunt.

social case study tonight show

Now let’s talk about #ticketsat12. This is a weekly treasure hunt for 2 Tonight Show VIP tickets that occurs every Thursday in New York city. The Tonight show introduces the giveaway on Twitter and then instructs consumers to add them on Snapchat, in order to see their story or clue if you will. They’re leveraging their strong Twitter audience beautifully here. The clue directs followers to a location in New York city where The Tonight Show’s intern is waiting with two VIP tickets for the lucky winner. After releasing the clue on Snapshat, consumers have roughly an hour to make it to the mystery location and spot the intern in her trenchcoat and fedora.

tonight show social case study

Whilst in New York, I played the game. I wanted to see what the uptake of this activation was like and lastly what could be learnt from one of the strongest Social teams in the world. Plus I’ve recommended and executed social-based treasure hunts for clients without ever actually participating in one myself. The snapchat story was released and the treasure hunt began. On arrival at the location, there were already two girls there  and as the minutes ticked by, roughly another 20 people arrived in the hopes of landing tickets. The crowd was pretty much bang on the Snapchat demographic –  young, majority female – and mostly local New Yorkers with a few foreigners.

Now here is where the mechanic starts to break down.

The crowd got talking (effectively I ended up with a focus group) and swopped hearsay and stories about previous games. The sentiment was surprisingly negative – despite this, the young consumers hadn’t been dissuaded from playing the game. Due to the rarity of these tickets, they and the game has become  increasingly popular – to the point where the intern had been mobbed at the previous week’s giveaway. It turned out that there was no fair method to selecting a winner and it boiled down to who made eye-contact with the intern first. In previous instances this equated to whoever had shoved their face in front of the intern first. Hmm, this isn’t nice for the consumer nor the intern.

social case study tonight show

The intern arrived, the crowd discovered her and a girl who made eye contact first won the tickets. Now you cannot please everyone, but it did leave a sour taste in the mouth of the young consumers who bemoaned the show and the lack of fairness. I particularly felt for the girl on her third attempt who had been waiting longer than anyone else. Ouch. On a positive note, The Tonight Show then followed up on both Twitter and Snapchat with a snap of the winners – nice – a lot of brands forget to close the story loop.

tonight show social media study

So their intern is getting mobbed (people can be so tiresome) and the negative WOM sentiment seems to be growing with each iteration of the game.  Now  we know that we can’t please everybody and that treasure hunt mechanics work, but how can we as marketers curb the disappointment and make these experiences more positive for consumers and the brand? To be clear, this post isn’t pointing fingers at the Tonight team – they are kicking ass and taking names at Social. In fact, I’m just as guilty, having recommended clients activation with the very similar mechanics. Digital Marketing is constantly evolving and this post is about digital marketers can improve these experiences for the consumer.

So how do we learn, tweak and improve?

Follow the same initial process –  announce the challenge on the social platforms and leverage the stronger community. BUT –  make the tickets the treasure and not the intern. Direct consumers to a meeting point, instead of a treasure point. Hide the tickets before hand (or perhaps even in a separate location) and once they’re all assembled, the intern – complete with trench and fedora – kicks off the hunt for the tickets. This could even take the form of another snapchat story and increase the social longevity of the hunt.

This will keep the excitement up and still leverage the novelty of the intern, yet level the playing field and keep the brand experience as positive as possible. From now on, I’ll be recommending digital activations like the above with these insights in mind. It’s all fun and games until a consumer feels cheated – see what I did there?

Take the above treasure hunt mechanic, apply it to your brand and see where you can make it better for your consumer. Or have you tried a treasure hunt? Did it work, or did it bomb?

If you have any insights or learnings you’d like to share, please feel free to add in the comments below.

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New York | Waffle Truck | Wafels and Dinges

Let me set the scene, it’s 11am in New York, it’s a lazy Sunday and it’s raining. This is the perfect day to find the best waffle Manhattan has to offer. After a quick Yelp – seriously how are these guys not giving me commission already  - we discovered that the New York’s best waffles were made by Wafel and Dinges. South Africans, please take a moment to appreciate the name. It turned out that Wafel and Dinges are actually 4 magical trucks that roam the city handing out Belgian waffle goodness.

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You check out the truck’s location on their website, or twitter, find the truck closet to you and start walking. After a 35 minute walk through the park, in the pouring rain, with waterlogged shoes, we wondered if this was the best idea we’d ever had. We arrived at the said location, only to discover that the truck had in fact moved on. We eventually caught up with it and let me tell you it was worth the 65 minute walk in the pouring New York rain because their Liege waffles were like pieces of heaven at that point.

They have set waffles that you can order, or you can whip up your own creation with toppings like Nutella, Cream, Fruit and Chocolate. I went for the Liege waffle, with the Spekuloos spread and walnuts and finished if off with a cup of Belgian cocoa. At this point we were so soaked through that we decided to just sit in the pouring rain and eat our waffles – much to the amusement of passing New Yorkers.

waffle truck manhattan wafels and dinges

The waffle was great, but I wouldn’t overdo it on the toppings (dinges) as you’ll run the risk of ruining the experience.

Since our little adventure, I bumped into their permanent cart that is based in Herald Square, so you won’t need to hurtle all over the city looking for it – although chasing Belgian waffles around the city is half the fun. You can check out their menu and find out where the trucks are over on the Wafels and Dinges website.

Definitely a must-try, New York, foodie experience.

Keep it simple and remember to ask them to pile on the spekuloos spread!

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U.S. | Revlon | #LoveisOn Campaign

Whilst travelling, I’ve been researching how UK, EU and US brands are currently handling digital. Globally, we’ve hit a saturation point where everything feels as if it has been done before and it’s interesting to see how the major players are tackling it. A few have stood out and in an effort to share this information for the greater digital good,  I’ll be talking about them over the next coming posts. The first one in the series is American cosmetics giant, Revlon.

Times Square is a pretty busy place and with all the brands competing for consumer eyeballs, it can be tricky to disrupt. Revlon however, are finding this no trouble at all with their Love is On campaign. Thanks to an interactive “kissing” billboard on Times Square, a 360 supported hashtag and the belief that Warhol was right and every human really does just wants their 15 minutes of fame, Revlon has a constant crowd in front of their billboard, which celebrates the launch of their new tagline – Love is On.


The “Love is On” campaign got my attention, because there was a large crowd, standing in front of the Revlon billboard,  hoping to catch a glimpse of themselves on the big screen. Not only could consumers see themselves live on the billboard, but they could also submit images to be featured on the both the Revlon website and billboard using the #loveison hashtag. I’ve visited Times Square several times during my stay and the crowd is a constant.


great social media 2015

Not only is it drawing a crowd in the real world, but it’s also drawing mentions in real-time. Unfortunately I don’t have any official stats available, but they’re currently sitting on 8953 photos on Instagram and the twitter mentions are noisy. Now whether this translates into sales I’m not sure, but it’s been a brilliant way to create awareness for their new tagline.

Too often I’ve seen campaigns where the window period on the user-generated content was too small and included too many hurdles to enter. Revlon didn’t make consumers purchase a product, or complete a survey to take part. Brands, do not make it hard for consumers to participate, make it easy for them to play a game with your brand.  Revlon has come good because #loveison is supported 360, it’s easy to enter, anyone can enter and they’ve let the billboard run for quite some time, to the point where it’s become a tourist attraction in its own right.

great social media campaign

The campaign has full 360 support on the Revlon homepage and social properties, a TV spot (referencing the hashtag – nice) and is fronted by celebrities including Emma Stone and Halle Berry. The digital execution on this is slick – none of their digital properties have been neglected and the digital CTA (#loveison) has been integrated into every single piece of marketing material that lands in front of the consumer, including in-store. I keep going on about the 360 support, but after working with a retail giant and seeing how hard it is to achieve, I now get excited when I see a brand nailing it.

digital marketing campaign revlon

Just look at that crowd. For the record no other billboard in Times Square is currently  supporting user-generated content and none of them are getting this kind of reaction. Clearly Revlon have moderation in effect, as no self-respecting brand is going to truly hand that advertising space over to the consumer. Revlon also warn consumers about a potential 24 hour delay for approved images, which is a nice touch that manages expectations.

Again, they’re made it easy for consumers to participate and given it full 360 support across all the Revlon properties.  It’s crystal clear that their objective was awareness over sales and it appears as if they’ve succeeded.

Nice one Revlon!


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New York | Bakery | Two Little Red Hens

Another day, and another food quest in New York city. We set out to find the best cupcake in Manhattan – thanks Yelp – and were sent to Two Little Red Hens, an American bakery on 2nd Avenue. After a 45 minute walk across the park and town – thank god because once there I ate my way through two cupcakes, 1 mini cake and a quarter of thick, New York cheesecake. Banting for what?


The tiny, relaxed bakery serves up cupcakes, cakes and Irving Farm coffee. Their famous specialities include the Brooklyn Blackout cupcake and their New York cheesecake. So after ordering both of those, I went ahead and ordered a Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl and a mini red velvet because once you see them all stacked out in front of you, your self control will swiftly leave the building.

They have mini-cakes so you could opt for several of those instead of the regular-sized cupcakes, but lets be honest, you don’t go to an American bakery and pretend you’re watching your figure.


The Brooklyn Blackout was pure, extreme chocolate heaven, the Peanut Butter Swirl used actual peanut butter and the Red Velvet knocked all previous RV contenders out of the park. All of the cupcakes were light and fluffy with just the right amount of decadence.  The cheesecake exceeded all the hype. And despite eating all of this sugar, I didn’t feel sick to my stomach – so they’re clearly doing something right.


I’m not a foodie, but have eaten enough cupcakes to have a pretty rock solid opinion on what is good and what is just overhyped butter and eggs.  Without a doubt,  the best cupcakes in Manhattan and most likely the world can be found at Two Little Red Hens, New York.

Make sure you visit next time you’e in the Big Apple. You can find out all the useful details about Two Little Red Hens here. Oh and there is limited seating in the bakery, but if there aren’t any free tables, don’t be sad, just grab one (read six) to go.



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New York | Bakery | Mille-feuille

Look, after being here for only 6 days, I am by no means an expert on anything in New York, BUT this authentically French bakery is easily the find of the New York trip and it needs to be shared. In fact our 4 day trip was extended to 3 weeks largely because of this bakery.  Thanks to Yelp, we found that Mille-feuille made some of the best coffee in New York City and equally delectable croissants. It was a short walk from our hotel and we soon discovered a little piece of Paris on Broadway. Oh and the story about how the Dessyn family came over from Paris makes you believe that America really is the land where dreams are made of.

Read it – it’ll make you want to quit you job tomorrow, book a flight and start something over here.

bakery new york cafe

The bakery is popular with locals – always a good sign – and makes use of only the best ingredients – we’re talking organic flour, Vermont butter and absolutely no additives! You can’t go wrong with anything ordered out of here, but if you can only pick one pastry – my god, good luck – go for the Raspberry Almond croissant.

There are two Mille-feuille bakeries in New York and they actually offer classes out of their west village store. You can learn how to make the perfect french croissant, or the art of making the humble macaron. Unfortunately we couldn’t get into one as they are booked up way in advance – they’re tremendously popular! I’m truly sad we didn’t get a chance to go.

bakery coffee shop New york

The Upper West Side bakery became the spot where we started each day in New York city. We’d grab a freshly brewed coffee and pastry-to-go and then stroll through to Central Park and watch the world go by. I’m sure the one in Greenwich village is just as lovely, if not lovelier – after all, it was the one that started it all.

I can’t recommend it enough – go – otherwise you’ll be sad you didn’t and no one wants that.

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The Best Dinners in Edinburgh

You’ll be hard-pressed  to find someone who travelled to Edinburgh and didn’t love it. Edinburgh is by far the best city in the UK. The people are friendly, everyone is a chatty Cathy, the history is overflowing and there’s always something to do. I’ve spent a lot of time in the friendly Scottish capital and love it almost as much as Cape Town. Everyone knows about the castle, Princes Street and the Old Town, but I wanted to share some of the best places to grab a bite to eat to help you enjoy everything the city has to offer.

None of the spots below are sponsored, they were recommended by city locals and come with high praise.

The Witchery

The magical, mysterious Witchery

The Witchery

The Witchery is tucked away in the historic old town, right at the entrance to the castle on the Royal Mile. Walking up to the restaurant and surrounded by picturesque old buildings, you immediately feel as if you’ve stepped back in time as you attempt to navigate the cobbled streets in high heels. The decor is eerily gothic and gull of wax candles, red roses and ornate wooden carvings. The finest Scottish beef, seafood and game is on offer and there are several dishes you’ll want to try. I tried the Witchery hot-smoked Loch Duarte salmon and it was superb. I loved the surroundings and the setting too much to notice. It really can’t be put in to words – it’s a magical experience. It’s the perfect spot for a romantic dinner, but you’ll need to book well in advance as it’s understandably popular. You cannot visit Edinburgh and not have dinner at the Witchery!

To take a look at their menu, or make a booking, visit their site.

Fishers in the City

Fishers in the City

Fishers in the City

You’ll find Fishers in a converted warehouse on Thistle street serving some of the finest Scottish seafood around. It was initially recommended by a local and after quite a few visits, it’s yet to disappoint. If you’re into seafood, then try the steamed Shetland mussels because they’re out of this world. The main portion of mussels is gigantic, so if you’re on the full side, have the starter. The salmon and haddock cream chowder is also incredibly tasty!

You can find out more about Fishers here.

Galvin Brasserie de Luxe was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand in September 2013

Galvin Brasserie de Luxe was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand in September 2013

Galvin Brasserie de Luxe

This isn’t strictly Scottish cuisine, but the French bistro is well deserving of the third spot on this list and is one of the top restaurants in Scotland. The restaurant is located in the exquisite Caledonian Hotel on the west end of Princes street and is run by the Michelin-starred chef Galvin brothers. Top dishes to try are the pumpkin, chestnut and parmesan risotto, the grilled rainbow trout and the venison. It has to be said that you can’t go wrong at the Brasserie de Luxe as everything on the menu is pretty much fantastic.

You can find out more about the restaurant here.

Cosy Wildfire on Rose street

Cosy Wildfire on Rose street


This family-run restaurant is tucked away on Edinburgh’s famous Rose street. Rose street is incredibly narrow and home to tons and tons of pubs. Wildfire is somewhere in the middle and offers incredible Scottish beef and seafood. Again, I stuck to seafood, but tried some of the beef which was superb. The dishes are simple and tasty with Aberdeen Angus Steak, Borders lamb, West Coast Mussels, Fresh and smoked fish to choose from. After a dinner at Wildfire, it’s a great idea to walk along Rose street and down onto Princes street and watch Edinburgh by night. 

You can find out more about Wildfire and their menu here.

When I next visit, I’m definitely having the steak!

Any great restaurants I need to try next time I’m in Edinburgh?

Let me know :)

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