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Social media sobriety test helped local digital ad agency

Tue., Dec. 27, 2011

About a year ago the developers at Spokane digital ad agency 14Four had fun making a “social media sobriety kit” to help stop people from drunkenly posting on Facebook or Twitter.

The test was upgraded recently by 14Four with a holiday theme, and as it gains blog and broadcast notoriety, company executives say it’s been a great showcase of 14Four’s 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 a tool for a Web browser that involved simple tests like following a moving object onscreen with a mouse or typing the alphabet backward. Based on results, the program set time limits when the user could post messages or photos.

The test’s 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 or the Android Market.

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 companies, including Tortilla Land and Sir Richard’s Condom Co., a well-established business whose products are sold worldwide.

“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 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 also has worked for big ad agencies on behalf of clients such as AT&T, McDonald’s, Microsoft and Fender Guitar in conjunction with Spokane ad firm Seven2.

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 component of 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, Moede said.

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 its amusement factor. TDA officials gladly talk about the value of the sobriety test, but they also can’t avoid revealing that the whole goal is having some fun.

“The consequences of a stupid tweet or ill-advised 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 slightly, to 22 people, with several new designers and developers.

“We’ve also grown our client base in New York, Chicago 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.

Said Moede, “The challenge we face is making each project more interesting than the last one.”

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