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    KitKat challenges mobile users to AI-powered staring contest

    • Candy brand KitKat this week debuted an interactive campaign that dares mobile users to engage in a staring contest with a lineup of animals. “Blink Break” uses artificial intelligence (AI) and a smartphone’s front-facing camera to detect when a participant blinks, according to an announcement emailed to Marketing Dive.
    • Participants face off against still images of “progressively more absurd animals” such as a snowy owl and lemur as they advance through the game. During the pauses between each level, the game urges players to compete against users on Instagram and share their results using the #blinkchallenge hashtag.
    • KitKat worked with Wunderman Thompson’s U.K. and Seattle offices to create the interactive game, which is being promoted worldwide on the brand’s Instagram channel. KitKat is adding posts to coincide with the “mid-afternoon slump when people are most in need of a light-hearted distraction,” per the announcement.

    KitKat’s “Blink Break” extends the brand’s ongoing campaigns that play off the sound of breaking apart its chocolate wafer bars to eat or share with others. The interactive game aims to connect with younger consumers and help KitKat to form loyalties to the brand, which first appeared in 1957. KitKat is made by a division of Hershey in the U.S. Elsewhere the confection is offered by Nestle, which is the company attached to the “Blink Break” site.

    The “Blink Break” campaign demonstrates a novel use of machine learning technology to recognize the face of a game participant and to detect blinking. Wunderman Thompson enlisted machine-learning company MediaPipe, whose Face Mesh tool maps the contours of a mobile user’s facial features, to help create the staring contest. The goal is to create a diversion for mobile consumers and urge them to spread the word about the staring contest among their friends and followers.

    The campaign has a chance of going viral as people challenge others to participate, giving KitKat organic reach and engagement among a wider group of consumers, especially on Instagram. About 70% of Instagram’s users are between the ages of 13 and 34, according to data compiled by Hootsuite. As one of the most popular social media apps among millennials and Generation Z, Instagram is a key platform for brands that seek to engage demographic groups with growing spending power. Almost two-thirds (63%) of Instagram users open the app to look through their feeds every day, according to data provided by Wunderman Thompson.

    KitKat’s “Blink Break” also acknowledges the popularity of mobile gaming, which has the power to engage consumers more completely in a digital experience. Eighty percent of millennial and Gen Z consumers play video games, and mobile devices are the most popular platform, according to researcher NewZoo. As marketers consider the best ways to measure people’s attention to advertising among a variety of media channels and connected devices like smartphones, gaming is seen as one way to immerse consumers in branded content.

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