Office Hours

Thank you, 14Four. Improved sobriety test protects you from reckless tweets

The Step 2 tagline on the online version of the Social Media Sobriety Test sums it up:

"Choose your hours of intoxication."

About a year ago the coders who work at Spokane creative agency 14Four had fun making a “social media sobriety kit” that kept people from posting drunken comments on sites like Facebook or Twitter.

The test was just upgraded by 14Four with a holiday theme.  As the new version gains blog and broadcast notoriety, those at 14Four who've worked on the sobriety test project say it's been a great showcase of their talents and skills.

In the world of advertising and creative marketing, half the battle is winning eyeballs. And that has clearly happened with the sobriety test, said Jeff Oswalt, 14Four’s president.

Last year’s version involved just a web browser tool that set time limits when one could post messages or photos. The tests themselves were simple: follow a moving object onscreen with a mouse or type the alphabet backwards.

The new version comes with holiday-themed warnings, such as: “Before you hand out copies of your backside or tell your in-laws how you really feel, download the Holiday Party Sobriety Test and protect yourself, from yourself.”

It also added mobile versions for Android and iPhone; you can download the free sobriety app from iTunes.

Colorado-based ad agency TDA_Boulder hired 14Four for the sobriety test projects; the two firms have done ad work for a number of other firms, including Tortilla Land and Sir Richard’s Condom Company, a firm whose social reputation permits it to sell products at Whole Foods.

 “The (sobriety test) was a lot of fun for us. A lot of people noticed it and used it and talked about it,” said Ryan Moede, director of client strategy for 14Four.

He called it a “hallmark project” that showcases the firm’s talent and helped land 14Four and TDA on the map.

“It’s one of the projects we were most proud of, over the past year,” Moede said.

14Four, in fact, is one half of a creative network run by the same ownership. It focuses specifically on doing work for major ad agencies, including ones that work with AT&T, McDonald’s, Fender Guitars and Microsoft.

The other half is the Spokane ad firm Seven2. It works primarily with clients on marketing, brand and interactive ad campaigns.

In the case of the sobriety test, TDA was asked by software firm Webroot to conjure something that was tongue-in-cheek and hip. TDA’s staff brainstormed the idea of a web-based test that restricted what people could post online after a night of reveling.

TDA then turned to 14Four’s developers for the software development for the sobriety tests. 14Four provided the interactive components and page displays at the sobriety-test website, and it designed the web browser plug-in.  The mobile app development was handled by another TDA partner, said Moede.

The idea was a big enough hit that Webroot asked its creative team to build a version for Japanese customers, Moede said.

Half the campaign’s appeal, Moede said, is simply being clever and amusing. The TDA folks are glad to lay out the utility of the sobriety test but can't help but reveal that chiefly, the goal is simple fun.

"The consequences of a stupid tweet or photo can be instantaneously spread around the globe. It's our hope the Sobriety Tests will come to the aid of all who are in need of its protection. Because we know nothing good happens online after 1 a.m.,” one TDA executive is quoted saying.

Over the past year 14Four has continued a growth spurt, said Moede and Oswalt.

The company has grown to 22 people, with several new designers and developers.

“We’ve also grown our client base in New YorkChicago and San Francisco, over the past year,” Moede said.

Two projects over the past 12 months have included work for Harley Davidson, the Midwest motorcycle icon, and the Audubon Society.

Not looking back, the team’s focus is on pushing ahead and looking for new ways to be creative, Moede said.

“The challenge we face is making each project more interesting than the last one,” he said




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Tom Sowa
Tom Sowa covers technology, retail and economic development and writes the Office Hours blog.






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