Interactive Annual 20:
Virgin Mobile Blinkwashing
A really fun, magical use of the webcam.
Sustained storytelling while channel-surfing with
your eyes? Whats not to love?
When youve already got a cell phone
plan, youre not likely to pay much attention to other offers, no
matter how good they might be. Virgin Mobiles Blinkwashing, an
interactive YouTube experience that reacts to the blink of an eye,
solves that problem by surprising the viewer into watching. It works by
enabling a persons webcam to scan for eye location and movement to
accurately detect when a viewer blinks. Then, with every blink, the
video on screen switches, while the dialogue continues uninterrupted.
The ad is made up of 25 different films, all perfectly synced for a
seamless transition between clips. Mother New York, working with
Greencard Pictures and rehabstudio, created completely new technology to
let viewers blink their way through an endlessly changing stream of
videos detailing the benefits of switching to Virgin Mobile.
- • The project was completed in about four
months, with the majority of that time being spent refining the
- • The clip a viewer sees after blinking is randomly selected
from among the 25 different films.
- • The technology used was a combination of Flash,
Comments by Mother New York:
The technology first scans your
face and locates your eyes. When you blink during the calibration
process, it detects the pixel changes between your eyes when open and
your eyes when closed. Then, every time it recognizes that you are
blinking during the experience, it randomly changes to another video,
picking up the script where the last video left off.
We spent a lot of time getting the video
loading and cueing to work properly and buffer. We had to come up with
methods to jump the playhead to keep all the videos synced up. Also, we
had to figure out the right number of video players to layer into the
We earned around 52 million media impressions
across industry and pop culture channels, plus lots of social sharing.
There were around 120,000 unique visitors in the first few days, with a
lot of repeat visitors watching Blinkwashing for a substantial amount of
time. It was a great opportunity for us to create new technology for an
idea. We were able to invent a completely new way for people to interact
with Virgin Mobile, which was very special for everyone involved.
Mother New York (New York, NY), project
design and development/ad agency
Virgin Mobile, client