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Australian telco creates a smart buoy to help stop shark attacks
Australian telecommunications brand Optus is helping stop shark attacks - using the power of signals.
The Clever Buoy campaign, created with M&C Saatchi, Sydney, is a smart ocean buoy which floats in the water near the shoreline. It uses sonar technology, powered by tech company Shark Mitigation Services, to detect sharks by measuring the creatures' unique sonar signatures. The device senses if one of the sharp-jawed critters swims past, activating a warning signal to lifeguards on the nearby beach. The danger alerts are sent to lifeguards' mobile devices using the Optus satellite network and social media platform Google+.
The shark-detection system is currently in its prototype phase and undergoing a number of commercial tests off the West Australian coast and at Sydney Aquarium to determine how best to roll it out.
Clear blue water / Differentiating a brand is tough in a marketplace as commodified as the telco sector. So creating a product that weaves together mobile technology with a broader sense of brand purpose is an interesting way to create an ownable position for Optus.
It’s a clever method of using existing tech to do good, and taps into a bigger trend where brands are adopting ‘purpose’ as a core part of doing business. In our Purposeful Brands trend we explore how people are looking to companies to make a difference in society. And as a result, brands are embracing social development alongside their business goals, using their infrastructure and resources to make a positive impact on the world as well as shift product.
Fin fanatics / In case you weren’t aware, sharks are so hot right now. Actually, they’ve sort of always been. The ongoing popularity of TV shows such as the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week along with more recent forays into fin-led filmmaking like 2013’s Sharknado, demonstrate our ongoing fascination with the species. And don’t forget the perennial fear of the water that Jaws instilled.
Using a creature we’re so captivated by is a sure-fire way for Optus to gain PR-generated buzz around its activity: ensuring people get to know the good it’s doing, and helping the brand to own the beach. One obvious consideration though - with a technology that could genuinely be lifesaving, Optus will have to ensure that it is highly accurate and effective. If it’s not, there could easily be a backlash awaiting.
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