The Sparkassen is Germany’s largest financial services network with 600 companies that provide banking services throughout all of Germany. Like most banks, the organization needs to compete in a world where more and more young people have never entered a bank building and maybe never will. While the majority of the German population is already using online banking, young people expect something that is as easy to use as PayPal and similar digital-only services.
To address this need, Sparkassen has launched a mobile service named “Kwitt”, a phonetic variation of the German word “quitt”, meaning that all debts are paid amongst two friends. “Kwitt” is a fast and simple way for young people to transfer small amounts between themselves through a mobile app.
To promote this service, Sparkassen has engaged Germany’s top creative agency Jung von Matt/SPREE to prepare and manage a marketing campaign that gets the interest of the young target group.
Jung von Matt/SPREE came up with a chatbot that offers its service to young people via Facebook Messenger. The chatbot persona is a muscular colossus, covered all over with tattoos and a guy not easy to ignore. To visualize this Messenger (in German: Der Bote), the agency recruited Hollywood Director Harald Zwart and some other top talents for producing a variety of funny video clips.
There are four services offered by “Der Bote”:
a) reminding a friend that he still owes money
b) collecting money from friends for some event
c) reminding friends that they should call you and
d) inviting one or more friends to an event.
The names of such friends, the cash amount in question, the reason for an invitation and various other information is collected through a chat interaction between a supposedly young Facebook user and “Der Bote”. Afterwards, “Der Bote” delivers a personalized video to his “master”, ready to be shared with friends via Facebook Messenger by just a few taps. The following link leads directly to the chatbot in Facebook Messenger: https://www.messenger.com/t/wirsindkwitt/.
Jung von Matt/SPREE asked Germany’s leading chatbot company WhatsBroadcast to build the chatbot service, a project that took about 2 months. During this time, the creative agency familiarized themselves with the Chatbot Builder tools of WhatsBroadcast and could soon come up with additional funny ideas that they added on their own.
The service was launched in early February 2017 with some PR and advertising. The initial reaction was overwhelming: everybody liked this innovative concept and there is a strong belief that this will become one of Germany’s top marketing campaigns of 2017. This will also be fueled by plenty of social media promotion, as well as classic TV and cinema advertising.
So, what makes this approach so compelling and unique? There are a number of reasons for that. Using Facebook messenger as a platform, the whole campaign is absolutely “mobile-first”, in line with the preferences of young people. Compared to an app, there is no install problem. Almost everyone has Facebook messenger installed and the whole onboarding is as simple as tapping on a Facebook Messenger ad in a Facebook stream and starting to interact with the chatbot. The structured approach with four options avoids all confusion about what the chatbot is about. As soon as one option is selected, there is a clear process to follow, where any deviation leads to some entertaining reaction of “Der Bote”, usually with some funny video clip. But after that, the user is brought back to the next step, e.g. specifying an amount of money or the name of a friend. Delivering the result as a personalized video on Facebook makes it extremely easy to share it with a friend. And since the result is so compelling, the receiving friend is likely to share it with her friends or create her own task for the chatbot.
So shortly after the launch, it is still too early to analyze user numbers and behavior. But the feedback from the first 40,000 users already confirms that (statistically) each of them asked the chatbot to perform multiple tasks for them. And while the chatbot might over time lose its appeal as something new and unexpected, it remains useful in its capability to enable entertaining communication with friends for certain tasks.
“Der Bote” is an early example of a chatbot personality that works well for a consumer brand and its audience. It is easy to see how we might soon face very many of such virtual personas who represent companies one way or another. And maybe they will also start talking to each other and find out some interesting things.