Startup Mescaline Ready to Expand by Providing Strategic-Tech Interactions for Brands
Since its founding in 2012, Mescalina, a technology-focused agency based in Mexico City, has come up with innovations that demonstrate interesting ways to communicate. Now, it's ready to expand commercially, providing strategic technology interactions for brands.
By Susan Kuchinskas
Its most recent innovation was Code of Love, a promotion for Vio Flowers timed to the March celebration of Women's History Month. Mescalina developed an app that combined a delivery of flowers with a personalized video for the recipient.
Once someone ordered a delivery of flowers, he or she could register on a website and record a video message. Then, a unique QR code was printed on the card accompanying the flowers. The recipient could scan the code from any connected device to access the video.Not only did this get Vio Flowers positive attention, it also increased sales.
Fernando Treviño, CEO of Mescalina, notes that, even with all the new technology, brands still tend to use it to communicate in traditional ways. Instead, he says, Brands have to combine technology with creativity to re-approach consumers."
Treviño has worked in advertising since 1998, and he was formerly partner in a web development agency. He decided to bring that experience to bear on a new kind of agency he calls "an advertising innovation company." The 18-person creative team includes creatives, engineers, developers, marketers and one anthropologist.
Many of Mescalina's projects to date have been designed to showcase technologies that the agency believes brands can use to more effectively reach consumers. For example, it created SugarTweets.com for the Mexican Diabetes Association. It's powered by a search algorithm for Twitter that parses tweets for mentions of unhealthy foods and then immediately replies to the tweets with a message warning that the person is in danger of developing diabetes in the future if he eats that.
Mescalina put this same technology – which it calls "cloud machine" – to use in a branding campaign for a commercial client, TAR Airlines. The agency programmed the software to find Twitter conversations about travel to cities served by the regional airline. Consumers received a message with a travel coupon backed by a unique image of a cloud.
Mescalina is the only advertising company to receive an innovation incentive grant from Mexico's National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT). Most of the program's grants go to university-based researchers. The 2014 grant allows the agency to continue to innovate in technologies that could be used in advertising.
Says Treviño, "In Mexico, there is a big gap between what happens in universities and research centers and industry. We try to identify opportunities, go to investigation or resach centers, and then try to put into the market."
A case in point is Mescalina's project with a university team to understand the meaning of the sounds a dog makes, such as whether it's hungry, happy or in pain. The research could be used in a number of different ways, Treviño says, including the development of an app that would let dog owners remotely listen and understand the noises their pet made in the home.
Another project developed through the CONACYT grant is HandyPark. It's a street kiosk to be installed at parking spots reserved for the disabled. It can scan the license plate to detect whether the vehicle is registered to use such parking places and, if it's not, provide a warning.
Now, Treviño and Mescalina are on the prowl for clients that want to take some of these innovative technologies and put them to use commercially. He says, "Brands know that technology has changed the way they have to create ad campaigns. We want to help these brands use technology the right way."