Over 3,000 miles from the United States’ closest Eastern boarder, a tractor-like robot branded as ‘Chalkbot’ pneumatically sprays electric-yellow messages in water-soluble paint along the Tour de France route. If this is the first you’ve heard about Chalkbot, you can check out the video of how it works, here.
This July, Digital Royalty was honored when we learned founder Amy Martin’s five-word message to Lance Armstrong had been painted on the streets of France. But Amy’s message is just one of many reasons the Digital Royalty team is so excited about Nike and LIVESTRONG‘s Chalkbot and its 40 character messages.
The messages, which will number more than 100,000 in total and are no more than 40 characters each in length, have been written to give hope and inspiration to cancer survivors and riders. Authored by a combination of average joes and luminaries from every corner of the world, the messages have a single common thread in regards to their origin–they were all submitted online. Some on LIVESTRONG’s Facebook page, others via the Chalkbot application.
The tradition of chalk-like messages of support and inspiration being written along the Tour de France isn’t new, but the delivery medium is. The Chalkbot, a now two-year old attendee of the Tour de France, is a high-tech and widely relevant take on a generations-old practice that was traditionally only relevant to two audiences–the 200 or so riders in the Tour de France and it’s spectators. It’s new audience? Everyone.
The Chalkbot is much more than a so-and-so ton robot scribbling messages. Instead, Chalkbot is the embodiment of a powerful trend: the convergence of the virtual world and the physical world. Although different in appearance, the Chalkbot campaign is same in theory as to what made the Digital Royalty-created concept of Hide and Tweet with clients Shaquille O’Neal, the White Sox and others, so successful: people want to see the virtual and physical world collide.
The concept that online messages can become physical messages is in itself powerful, but here Chalkbot goes a step further. The process comes full circle by taking now physical messages and putting them back online–this time in the form of TwitPics tweeted via Chalkbot’s very own Twitter account. What’s more is that the folks at Nike and LIVESTRONG behind Chalkbot have pre-identified influencers, labeled them as such, and put the TwitPic of their message in each influencer’s hands. That’s powerful. Not only is it powerful, but it’s smart.
The campaign not only encourages engagement on Nike and LIVESTRONG’s official touch points, but leverages social media influencers. Take our very own Amy Martin, and professional surfer Kelly Slater. Combined, the two have a presence of over 1.4 million directly-accessible impressions across Facebook and Twitter. And when the two tweet or post their Chalkbot message to their followers, awarenesss of Chalkbot is spread to a larger audience than would ever have been feasible.