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Improving Dodge’s Journey Search campaign and contest

September 23, 2011

Dodge’s Journey search campaign and contest has rekindled my long love for treasure hunts. I’ve participated in many over the years: armchair, online and physical. It has all the right elements: clues to solve, an opportunity to explore, a sense of adventure and a treasure to be found. It hasn’t been perfect but there’s a lot to like.

The tagline “Search Engine for the Real World” and phrase they coined “exploring the World Wide World” were, in my opinion, brilliant.

The general or introductory commercial (below) was used to launch the campaign, create awareness, generate interest, and direct individuals to Dodge’s YouTube page for more.

The commercial itself, was a compilation of sequences, clues to locations, direction and route for each regional Journey search. Therein lied the primary problem. You could identify locations, direction, and route, up to a point within 20 miles (maximum), of the final location. And this creates an understandable conflict between armchair (“at home”) and physical (“on location”) participants.

On the day of the search, additional (radius) clues are launched, that for the most part, follow an already known route and direction. Only the 5-mile radius clue for the West search, contributed essential information on the path and proximity to find the Journey.

With that said, consider the following revisions for a future campaign and contest:

1) Launch an introductory commercial that leads to locations as a starting point only

  • Rather than give a way most of the (physical search) route and general location of the final destination (within 20 miles or less), before the search even begins, compile sequences, that identify locations, direction and route, to one or more starting points in a region for the physical search.
  • Use optional registration (with screen names) at the campaign site, e.g. Dodge’s YouTube page, to let participants identify locations, build the route, and record the final start point.
  • The campaign site should include a leader board and forum for structured and moderated discussion. This encourages maximum participation from all types: “at home” and “on location” treasure hunters.
  • Option: within one region search, there could be conflicting routes, multiple “starting points” (within 25-35 miles of each other) to spread the field out on the day of the search.

The physical search should continue to be held on the weekend and during the end of summer break for maximum participation. This treasure hunt should be as much an adventure, a mini-vacation, an opportunity to explore and create memories, as it is an opportunity to find a prize. After all, there can only be one winner.

2) Launch the larger (radius) clue, several days before the physical search begins

  • Several days before individuals begin to arrive at the starting location(s), launch the larger radius clue (200-300 mile), that reuses video segments from the introductory commercial, but for the specific regional search, adding clarity for some clues, most of which will be used to confirm predictions.
  • Add one or more new clues to the larger radius clue, to either further extend the route (by up to 20 miles or so) and/or confirm one of the starting locations.
  • This will create an immediate need and opportunity to re-engage, a race to solve, as the physical hunt quickly approaches.
  • The interactive Google map-based method of recording solutions can still be used but should be tied to the leader board, again encouraging “at home” participation as well as “on location” participation.

3) Physical search go live

  • When the (physical) search goes live, launch the next (radius) clue, again, giving all participants an opportunity to solve as well as creating a race to solve. For at home participants, the immediate reward is position on the leader board, i.e. who solved it first, second and so on.
  • Option: During registration, or at any time by updating their profile, let individuals identify themselves as an “at home” participant or (representing) “on location” participant. Tied to the leader board, everyone could monitor, “on location” participant progress.
  • Option: Rather than immediately unlocking the next clue, consider unlocking after a percentage of participants have correctly solved the prior clue. That way, a majority of participants, start at the same time to solve the next clue. This also creates an opportunity to control the pace of the search. The required percentage could even be progressive as the radius is gradually narrowed.
  • Each video clue will lead the “on location” participants to new locations, along an extended route, ultimately towards the final destination.

4) Final (radius) search clue

  • The final (radius) video clue, ranging 5-25 miles, would transition the “on location” search to a physical hunt governed by instinct and luck.
  • After solving the final clue, “at home” participants could drop a pin on their prediction for the precise location of the Dodge Journey.

5) At home participation prize

  • To provide an incentive for increased  “at home” participation, use either the final position on the leader board or closest to the actual location of the Dodge Journey, to award a participant up to $5,000.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. Karen permalink
    September 23, 2011 3:24 pm

    Steven, I like your ideas. We thought they might also hide some clues out there along the search route, for the physical searchers. After all, at the top of the Dodge YouTube page, it says “We left 3 Journeys across America, and HID clues to help you find them.” We thought this meant that if people figured out a location shown in the TV/online video, then got out into the “real world” & actually went there, they might find an exclusive clue HIDDEN at the location. For example, near the Uncle Sam statue for the East search. Do you think this would be a good idea? I’m not trying to tell Dodge or any other company how to do things, but just throwing out ideas that would make things fun and add interest.

    • Steven Barley permalink
      September 23, 2011 4:16 pm

      Very good point Karen (on Dodge’s YT page). I’ve participated in a number of Ravenchase hunts. Days before the hunt, you get a complex puzzle that tells you where to start. When you arrive the day of (and assuming you’re in the right location … LOL), you’re given a starter clue (that often times gives you multiple destinations as options), and that takes you to another location (where you have to search for the next clue). The only problem with type of hunt is the clues have to be physically placed there (and monitored, e.g. what if someone takes them all and destroys them). A variation might be to give participants a meta-puzzle, like a list for a scavenger hunt. Go to this location and get this piece of information, if by Uncle Sam, there was a sign on when he was built and you need to note the year … put them all the bits and pieces together and you get a final location. Cheers!

      • G. Carter permalink
        September 23, 2011 7:20 pm

        In this kind of search the clue-giver (Dodge) should employ both online searchable clues in preparation, but on the day of the race use non-searchable waypoints, e.g., waypoints that can only be used on the road.

        On the road waypoints would look like a thousand other locales but would be distinguishable upon sight. The West winner went home and did further research in the midst of the search, but that should not be a necessary part of the game.

  2. September 28, 2011 9:44 pm

    Steven, I’d be interested in info on any other treasure hunts you participate in (at home or live). I think you mentioned in one of the threads that you’re in VA. I’m actually in Williamsburg. It’d be great to be able to find a live one nearby!

    • Steven Barley permalink
      September 29, 2011 7:02 am

      Hi Dan. I live in Hampton Roads, Va – neighbor 🙂 I’ll stay in touch. All the best!

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