Barcelona and AKQA have something in common: a Star Player

This weekend FC Barcelona demonstrated  how football should be played by convincingly beating Manchester United in the Champions League final. Simultaneously, AKQA and Heineken demonstrated with Star Player how a branded iPhone app should be played by convincingly fusing gaming with social one-upmanship and entertainment.

I had seen this hype video when it came out a few weeks ago but only played it for the first time last night.

Star Player mobile app

Heineken's Star Player mobile app

Both sides have a star player, Barcelona in Lionel Messi and AKQA/Heineken in this free iPhone app that will surely earn the agency some badges in the award finals (AKQA’s award page is here).

Here is the summary of my experience:

  • Star Player is a well crafted application with a clear interface, reacting timely and succinctly.
  • It contains good copy writing, egging you on while not being overladen with football mannerisms or brand-speak.
  • The global stats (“this is how the world predicted”) give a nice context to how clairvoyant you really were.
  • I could do without the quiz questions coming on intermittently, crucially the Barcelona’s first goal was scored while a quiz question was on the screen.
  • One has to be (excuse the pun) ‘on the ball’ throughout, literally with your finger on the phone’s screen in order to predict goals.
  • Playing ‘Star Player’ represents a great complimentary user experience to watching the game, especially when you are at home. Would groups of mates at the pub get a kick out of glancing at their phones during the game?
  • Had I connected with fellow football lovers online (including live chat, like on the facebook version), it would have become an even greater social experience.

To me this app is a milestone in the development of the often-cited ‘dual screening’ or ‘parallel viewing’. According to the agency it hits extremely fertile ground as:

  • 72% of UEFA Champions League fans around the globe watch the matches alone
  • 75% of US television viewers are dual screening at home
  • 50% of NFL viewers are watching the games in dual screen environments

In a local development, BBDO Melbourne launched Twelevision, an iPhone/iPad app to support TV viewers in their tweeting about the different shows. And their CEO Peter Biggs has ambitiously declared to create more useful apps and products (and consequently generate IP) as 10% part of their future offering. I wonder if AKQA managed to get some patent on the inherent game mechanics of Star Player? No reason why this app wouldn’t soon appear in other sporting codes, like Rugby Union where Heineken e.g. sponsor the World Cup.

I haven’t tested the corresponding facebook app (currently 125,000 users) yet and would be grateful if anyone can share an experience with it. The same goes for any information on other live sporting events (e.g. the NBA Play Offs) that might have rolled out similar apps.

Update:
In the category of voting & commenting reality TV show ‘Four Weddings’ had brides going to each others’ weddings and rate them – usually in a bitchy way – in different categories. Viewers where given the opportunity to rate the show online in real time. The results were screened in the end in comparison to the brides’ ratings. http://www.monterosa.co.uk/work/four-weddings

Dream/Fantasy team competitions have been around for a while, e.g. our client Toyota sponsors AFL Dream Teamwhere your squad of 22 players take on an opponent. You’re competing against 15 other teams in your Dream league. So gather your mates and prepare to duke it out all season to see who has the sharpest football brain. Another example is the F1 Live Timings complementing the main TV broadcast – even keeping you ahead of the commentary, and overcoming the irritation of ad breaks during the race.

 

 

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2 responses to “Barcelona and AKQA have something in common: a Star Player

  1. That is brilliaint. You can see this idea/app becoming standard for all sports. Hats off to AKQA. May as well just leave it off for those guys.

  2. ESPN provide stat trackers for all the main US sports. You can launch a flash based realtime ‘Gamecast’ which allows you to view play by play, boxscore or team totals as the main view and see where the action is on the field at that point.
    Yahoo! offers a similar service for people involved in their fantasy leagues with live stat tracking by way of individual games or your own team.
    Integrating a social aspect into these is a no-brainer. A chat client would be a great addition for any tablet versions as well.

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