Here’s a great idea for a travel company to pick up—a book that rewrites itself
When someone comes up with a delightful piece of content marketing, you’ve got to tip your hat to them. And that’s what ad agency FCB has just done with a smart idea for Smiles, a loyalty program for GOL and Varig airlines in Brazil and their partner airlines (like Delta and AirFrance). The idea is simple—an e-book that is set in whichever city you’re in.
The Trip Book (as it’s called) is written by Marcelo Rubens Paiva, a Brazilian author whose life has been stalked by tragedy. His father, the politician Rubens Paiva, disappeared during Brazil’s military dictatorship, and his own career has been defined by a plunge from a waterfall which left him a quadriplegic.
The idea behind it is seductive: it was devised as an e-book with a geolocation device. “It’s a brilliant idea, so I immediately agreed to write it,” Paiva tells us in a promotional video for the book.
The agency says the story adapts to wherever you are, and resets itself, changing landmarks or street settings. It promises that “even when you are travelling through literature, your journey is better with Smiles”. It was released for the 20th anniversary of the Smiles loyalty program. If you’re like the beardy guy who is reading the book in the video and come from Brazil, you can get your hands on one of the nifty looking e-readers by being one of the top tier members of the program. If you’re like the rest of us, you can download in on the App store or through Google Play.
I can’t tell you a lot about the final book because I don’t read Portuguese. I can tell you that I had a similar problem to this guy who reviewed it on the website Road Warrior Voices, which is that its definition of “wherever you are” is a little limited.
Although the app recognised I was on the glamorous Western side of Sydney, the version of the story I got was set in Rio. A flick through the book’s 52 pages confirmed that was indeed the location, and not a metaphor for a previously unknown carnivalé corner of Pyrmont.
The map that comes with the story has a couple of spots marked in Europe and South America (and one or two in the US), and I’m guessing that’s where the story is set, and there is little variation from them. Maybe “wherever you are” means “wherever you are within this handful of cities”.
Oh well. But what a great opportunity, and one that hopefully someone grabs here. It’s like a choose-your-own adventure for grown-ups who are already on an adventure. It would not be too difficult to make a more comprehensive version of the app, either. When you’ve travelled a bit you realise that all cities over a certain size have more in common with each other than with the country they’re located in. They all have a downtown, a couple of iconic landmarks, some central transport hub and so on. If the story was set in districts, all an author would require to adapt it would be Google’s Street View and a few different street names.
In fact, staying on that Choose-Your-Own-Adventure theme (if you’re not familiar with them, they’re a series of kids books), there’s no reason why the story can’t change to fit different locations. One of the really fun things about the kids books was you could go back and read them again and again—which could be a lot of fun for your customers as well as yourself, determining different ways the story could go. There’s a free idea for whoever wants to take it up!