BY TODD WASSERMAN, Mashable’s business editor:
Digital ad agency Razorfish will peddle its services at South by Southwest via some 20 self-tweeting bicycles.
The bikes, which will be planted strategically or “bike bombed” at events during the Interactive portion of the festival, will include GPS devices that will transmit location data to Razorfish’s social media team. Each of the 20 bikes will have its own Twitter ID (“PennyTheBike” is one) and will tweet in its own personality. In addition to tweeting about their location (“Hey, I’m at the Capitol”) the bikes will also talk about the weather and other topics, like Austin’s various food trucks. The bikes will also have QR codes that sends riders to usemeleaveme.com. (The agency is pushing the hashtag #usemeleaveme for the effort as well.)
Patrick McHugh, creative director and copywriter for Razorfish, says the idea is more a social experiment than anything else, though it doesn’t hurt to promote the agency as well. “We were thinking ‘What fun things can we do at South by?’ ‘How about free bikes?’ ‘How about free bikes that talk? Even better.’"
McHugh acknowledges that things may not go all that smoothly. The bikes could get stolen, for instance. In that case, he says, the Twitter account will tweet "RIP” and sign off.
However, the idea is unlikely to be as controversial as ad agency BBH’s Homeless Hotspots, which employed homeless people in Austin to function as Wi-Fi hotspots. A BBH rep says the agency isn’t planning to repeat that program this year.
Razorfish internal initiative
Guerilla Stunt + Social Media = Interactive Talking Bikes