The Clever Buoy project, which uses sonar technology to detect shark-sized objects in coastal areas before relaying the signal to lifeguards, is the first Australian implementation of Google’s global Project Re: brief platform to better integrate creative ideas with digital execution.
Nathan Rosenberg, Optus’s head of brand and communications, said it evolved from a desire to “create partnerships that would do interesting things that solve problems for Australia”.
While Optus’s partnership with technologists Shark Mitigation Systems may be commercialised in the middle of next year, Rosenberg said the project was not part of a marketing campaign, but rather tapped into the company’s history of “championing big ideas and innovation”.
“This project is core to our philosophy and making a contribution back to society”, he said, by developing interesting ways of using Optus’s networks to “solve community problems”.
“I wouldn’t even call it philanthropic, but we feel this sense of purpose to do more.”
Optus’s agency, M&C Saatchi, was given the brief to find a left-field project after Optus’s marketing team looked for new approaches. Their ideas, Rosenberg said, “took our breath away”.
The shark-detection systems, which have been tested off the West Australian coast and at Sydney Aquarium will use Optus’s satellite network, SMS systems, possibly the 4G network, chips in buoys and Google Plus Circles to transmit and exchange information.
M&C Saatchi’s chief executive Jaimes Leggett said Clever Buoy “is a compelling illustration of what can be achieved when you take a non-traditional approach to a client brief.”
Google Australia was then brought in to “stretch them and leverage them digitally”, said its managing director, Maile Carnegie. The Optus Ideas brand strategy spin-off fit Google’s Re:brief, platform, which has worked on Coke and VW projects. This is its first use in Australia.