Motorola challenges smartphone addiction with ‘Real People’


Be honest: how connected do you feel to the world around you? Really?

We’re incredibly lucky to live at a time when there has never been greater global connectedness, in a virtual sense. Thanks to technology, we have the world at our fingertips and the opportunity to reach and share experiences with people across the globe.

But are we making the most of the here, the now, and meaningfully aware of our surroundings?

For many of us, sadly, the answer is no.

Now, a new experiment from telecomms provider Motorola has looked to redress the #phonelifebalance that is a real modern life struggle in today’s never-switched-off society.

The brand’s thought-provoking advertising campaign – entitled “Real People” – uses a very simple yet powerful experiential marketing approach to get audiences thinking about their own relationship with mobile technology.

Crucially: is my smartphone enhancing my life, or taking away from it?

Motorola PhoneLifeBalance experiment 1

The technology brand dotted incredibly life-like mannequins across Manhattan in particularly busy spots, such as at the top of subway stairs and right in front of a hotdog cart.  Each mannequin stood rigidly starting at a smartphone, as if transfixed by the screen before them.

While you’d expect that a static mannequin in the midst of a busy public space would attract plenty of attention, the worrying reality of this ‘experiment’ was that it didn’t in many cases, with lots of New Yorkers either walking around the models or knocking right into them.

Motorola PhoneLifeBalance experiment 2

Those whose interest was piqued, and who got up close and personal with the mannequins, were surprised to be met with this message from Motorola:

‘How many times do you look like this? Rethink your #phonelifebalance.’

Motorola PhoneLifeBalance experiment 4

The live brand experience provoked strong responses from unsuspecting participants, with one person even commenting, “that mannequin’s a perfect representation of what’s going on in our culture right now.”

According to Motorola, we spend 4 hours a day staring at our phones. That’s time when we could instead be connecting with friends and family in the real world and enjoying the world around us.

It’s a shocking glimpse into how all-consuming mobile devices are becoming in our daily lives.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, and we’ve seen some great examples of brands that have used handheld technology to enhance real live experiences.

Struggling toy retailer Toys R Us used augmented reality to attract shoppers in-store, while Star Wars sent shoppers on an intergalactic treasure hunt with their cell-phones to amp up the launch of The Last Jedi.  But when it comes to a perfect fusion of the real and virtual worlds, the undisputed leader in immersive storytelling remains Pokémon Go.

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I'm an award-winning entrepreneur, a passionate business mentor, and I believe that great things can happen when we work together to help others.