The most personal social media test ever

The province of Alberta in Canada is the ultimate place to go cold turkey and get rid of your online addiction. To promote this, Travel Alberta collaborated with Dutch based ad agency Eigen Fabrikaat in developing a thought-provoking social media initiative: the Online Rehab, a test of your online life.

The test is part of a larger campaign in the Dutch market that puts the Canadian Rockies on the map as the go-to winter sports area if you want to be offline for a while.

We spend more and more time online
It seems as if we cannot do without our social media and smartphones anymore. More than 9 million Dutch people (70%) now own a smartphone. Social media and instant messaging continue to be very popular; there are more than 9 million Facebook accounts and 9.5 million Dutch WhatsApp users.

On average, we check our smartphone 150 times a day and 85% of people who are waiting for something would rather take out their phone than speak to the next person in line. Is this conscious behaviour? Or can we speak of an online addiction?

Thomas Nieuwenhuizen and Jasper Symons, a creative team at the Eigen Fabrikaat ad agency, also noticed this change:

“We saw it in our own behaviour: without even thinking about it, we were checking our smartphones all the time, even on vacation. The first thing you do is check out the free Wi-Fi. And you share the spectacular view with your Facebook friends – and only then with your travel companions. But a vacation should be the ultimate moment for being offline for a while. This insight brought us to the idea for the Online Rehab in Canada.”

Go offline in the Canadian Rockies
The Canadian Rockies are the place to be if you want to go 100% offline. Which is something many Dutch people could do with, with our busy lives on the Internet and social media. Hugo van Joolen, project manager for Travel Alberta in the Netherlands, explains:

“Winter in Canada is so impressively beautiful, and there is so much to do, that you cannot but take your mind off your Facebook and WhatsApp friends. Which is a remarkable thing in this day and age: after al, we are continuously connected to everything and everyone. We know that the Dutch are looking for ways to go offline for a while – and this campaign gives them that opportunity”.

Technical realisation
The Online Rehab makes the best possible use of all the personal data available on Facebook, to generate an image of your online activity. Daan Klaver, Creative Director at Build in Amsterdam, on the test:

“The application has to do more than just show how many messages or photos you post; it asks what you know about them. After all, only if you know it all can you really be active online. For example: which friend posted what? And which one of your friends checked in where? This is the first time we’ve dug so deep into the Facebook data, resulting in a very deep game experience.”

Innovative destination campaign
The idea for the Online Rehab was a big step for Travel Alberta, as social media are a major pillar supporting the promotion of the region among the public at large. Rik Vandewall, Client Services Director at Eigen Fabrikaat, explains:

“A lot of destination campaigns are all about the final destination, tempting travellers with beautiful pictures and inspiration for their trip. In introducing the Online Rehab, Travel Alberta is taking a totally different approach, by holding up a mirror in a sympathetic way, based on an insight that is relevant to may Dutch people. And this is what generates impact, letting us make the most of a limited marketing budget.”

The Online Rehab can be found at www.onlinerehab.nl (please note that the game is in Dutch). At the end of December, the Dutch person that needs to go offline the most will be announced.

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