- MCG, Australia
- 9AFL games
To promote Visa’s new payWave technology to sports fans, we created an interactive experiential marketing game for thousands of AFL fans. Played out in stadiums across Australia, Visa Wave and Win was an Australian-first in stadium-wide motion tracking. With multiple mobile webcams utilising motion capture algorithms throughout the stadium, the experience was able to capture the movement of thousands of waving fans and translate it into real-time on-screen animations.
When Visa wanted a new and exciting way to introduce their payWave technology to sports fans, we teamed up with Traffik Marketing to create Visa Wave and Win. Set up at halftime, the experiential marketing activation saw thousands of fans waving their hands to spur on animated AFL avatars in a virtual race to the goals. The more fans waved, the faster their character would reach the finish line.
Capitalising on the competitive nature of AFL, the digital marketing experience pitted one side of the stadium against the other. To further incentivise the interaction, an individual from the winning team would also be randomly selected to win a $3,000 prize. The result would be a brand experience that fans could enjoy collectively, with one lucky winner each game receiving the jackpot prize.
Deciding on the technology system that would bring Visa Wave and Win to life presented a unique set of challenges. On one hand, we needed to be able to measure the movement of thousands of waving fans. On the other, we needed to do so with motion capture technology that could be set up in the unpredictable environment of a live stadium halftime show. In reality, that translated to just 4 minutes to bump in, and 1 minute to bump out.
Our solution was a system of Firefly mobile webcams, Blackmagic SDI capture cards, and a motion capture algorithm in OpenFrameworks. Within this system we were able to develop a simple pixel matching algorithm that would measure fans’ movement by matching the difference in pixel movement between keyframes. We kept these image samples in low resolution monochrome to not only increase contrast but also reduce data transfer requirements.
Once the movement data was captured, we used small laptops across the field and a fixed network to transmit each camera’s output to a centralised processor. Here, the data was aggregated and translated into inputs for the Unity game, with fan movement data informing the speed of each on-screen 3D character. At the end of the game, we handed back over to the stadium show operators who would use existing stadium cameras to pick the ultimate winner from the crowd, bringing an end to the experiential marketing activation.
While the total gameplay of Visa Wave and Win was only 45 seconds, providing satisfying user feedback is important to any interactive activation – especially when trying to encourage engagement from such a large crowd. To help with this, we added visual effects to juice up the game mechanics and encourage unresponsive bays of people to wave harder.
In an unpredictable, live environment like an AFL halftime show, there are always logistics challenges to be faced. To deal with this reality, we built a number of redundancy systems into the experiential marketing activation. This included ways to address data interruptions from the field, and to step in if the game engine itself crashed during broadcast.
We knew going in that the noisy network environment in the stadium would see signal interference play a major role. In anticipation of this, we chose to use fixed line connections for the data transfer. Mobile phone service would also be unreliable, so we made sure to invest in walkie talkies as a solid fallback for keeping in contact deployment teams.
When it debuted, Visa Wave and Win was an Australian-first application of motion capture technology at stadium-scale. Deployed at halftime Hawthorn Hawks home games at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the experiential marketing activation exceeded benchmarks for fan engagement and media coverage, promoting the ‘wave’ gesture of Visa’s new payment technology through the physical waving of over 600,000 AFL fans.