Commentary

Sprite, Why Am I Here?

I don't consider myself the brightest bulb in the box, but I am not the dimmest guy to flip open a cell phone, either. Well, unless you ask my daughter... or my significant other... or my ex-wife. But those notorious detractors aside, I am confident that I can navigate around most mobile apps pretty well and understand their purpose without a map.

But this branded Sprite project The Yard has me pretty much befuddled. I can't figure out what I am supposed to be doing here -- let alone why I am here. One rarely sees such a terrific misfire.

The mobile site is supposed to be a kind of social network tied to the Sprite brand. Unless I am missing something, the only brand association I am getting here is GREEN. Oh, and YELLOW. There are green and yellow patches here and there, so I guess that means I am in SpriteWorld. Why Sprite would be sponsoring a social network is not at all clear. Is there a groundswell of Sprite spirit out there that I missed? Is there some special brand identification at work that I am too old to appreciate?

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Even if there is some special Sprite mojo out there I am not detecting, The Yard does nothing to tell me what it is. In fact, the site designers built an inhospitable wall around the place. I had to suffer so many questions to register, bite my lip through so many error messages and poorly highlighted form boxes to fill in, that I was in a surly mood once I got into Sprite's Yard.

And then I couldn't figure out what was going on. It felt as if the neighborhood kids had invited me to a pick-up game, but I showed up to face an empty lot. Either I got the time wrong -- or someone is playing a trick on me.

This is the sum total of messaging at the site visible on the first screen:


Sprite: The Yard


Welcome back XXXXX


Nuggets


Enter Your PIN


What the...?

Just to clarify a bit. The PINs are coming from Sprite bottle caps and I gather they lead to some kind of offer that may serve as a payoff. As for the rest of this social networking experience, there is such a dearth of explanation here, so little guidance, that a user is left to intuit its purpose. I can't even tell where to start, let alone why to invest any time and energy in creating a user profile and exchanging messages and pictures through this system, when just about any other mobile phone can do the same thing natively. What is the point?

I searched for some profiles, but the data points on each are so banal (favorite music genre, gender, etc) that they hardly narrow the field. You can issue "Shouts" or messages to friends in lieu of using your own IM or SMS tools, but, again, I have no idea why anyone would, and Sprite isn't telling me either.

Hey, as I have covered here before. I am a dad, an ex-husband, and an "older boyfriend." I have been behaviorally modified to believe that in most instances I am the one who is clueless. But so far as I can see in Sprite's Yard, there is no compelling branding message or affinity to social networking. There is no obvious reward for my activities. Whatever social network that is here has no real character or means of differentiating individuals from one another. There is no entertainment value to it. It isn't clever and the social networking tools are in no way unique. And I can't see how the site is offering me any convenience or tools I can't get elsewhere on my phone.

It seems to me that before going into a mobile project like this, a brand needs to answer a few basic questions, namely: why it is here -- and why users should be there, too.

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