10 case studies from our 10 years in tech…

10 case studies from our 10 years in tech…

June 1st was a big birthday for us all at Techdept: our 10th!

It’s been an eventful decade in tech – 2004 feels like a very long time ago. No Facebook, no iPhone, no cloud services. They say that internet years are like dog years, so (at least according to a random Google search) we’re actually 53…

Either way, we’ve covered some technological ground in that time. So we dusted off the servers, and looked back at 10 classic Techdept projects from the last 10 years!

We’d like to take the opportunity to say a MASSIVE thanks to all our amazing clients, and to all of our talented team – for giving us the opportunity to carry on doing what we love…


1.  eMail.Mergedesktop email marketing software


When we first launched the company, in 2004, it was to develop a software application – an email marketing tool we called eMail.Merge.

These were the days before cloud email services (Campaign Monitor and the like somewhat stole our shirt!). eMail.Merge was installed on people’s machines, letting them send designed, personalised, targeted emails from your desktop. It was a great product, and we had a number of blue chip and international clients using it.


2. Underground Ernie international brand licensing 

Underground Ernie

If you were a parent of a small child in the mid 00’s, then you couldn’t have missed Underground Ernie, a 3D kids animation voiced by Gary Lineker. It got better ratings than Bob The Builder on CBeebies for a while.

We were leading the team that helped take the brand from the TV to the shops. A key part of its commercial development was an international licensing programme (think board games, socks, and soft toys). We wanted to get the approval process out of the email inbox for Joella Productions (the owners of the IP), so created a custom licensing management portal. Manufacturers from all over the world could download approved digital assets, and upload their proposed designs for approval, with a full audit trail – saving endless admin time.


3. SEGA Football Managerpan-European pre-order campaign

Football Manager 2010

Everyone’s got a favourite footy team, and every team has different colour kit. So in 2008 we created a pre-order web app for SEGA’s Football Manager game which let you personalise your own packaging: a campaign which ran for three years. Consumers would pre-order the game from play.com & receive a unique code and URL, rom where they could personalise their pack – including team shirts, socks, shorts & the manager’s tie, and their own name!

The image data was collated and sent – with corresponding layered photoshop files – to a digital printing and fulfilment partner. The unique card sleeve was printed and posted direct to the gamer when the product launched.

This was a concept that transcended language, we localised it across several European territories, the Scandinavians in particular really liked it! {amusingly we needed to create a pan-European swearing filter, the best spreadsheet we’ve ever had to work with!}


4. “Draw Your Hero” on and offline user generated content

Drawn to Life

Working with experiential agency Neon in 2009, we created this innovative user-generated content campaign, that again linked on and offline.

Drawn To Life was a Nintendo DS game – published by THQ – which let you draw your gameplay character using the console stylus. We took the game code and re-engineered it to create a web app where you could create your character and publish on a web site – where people could vote for their favourite. The concept was implemented in the UK, Australia, Germany and Spain.

Voting in regional heats established regional winners – and in the UK these winning images (some from entire school classes) were visualised by a professional artist and turned into 48 sheet posters in their creator’s home towns! The regional winners went through to a national final in central London, where an exhibition showed the winning artworks.


5. Activision at Tescoonline point of sale communication

Activision at Tesco

In 2007 we worked with Activision’s soon-to-be-award winning Trade Marketing team to help build their brand on Tesco.com.

The challenge was to effectively remotely communicate their diverse range of games to gifters and parents: point of sale for the web. At the time there was a lot of fear of game content (e.g. violence), so to quickly give shoppers a clear understanding we designed simple, tech-light web pages with clear designs and explanatory content. Grown up games (such as Call of Duty) were clearly labelled as such.

This was the first time that this approach had been taken in the UK, and was quickly copied by other online retailers such as Amazon.


6. The Great American Express Gold RushFacebook game

American Express

In 2011 we worked with Consolidated PR to create ‘The Great American Express Gold Rush’ – the UK’s first ever fantasy gold trading game on Facebook – designed & built by our team. Each player traded gold in different ‘time zones’ to win a daily prize, and an ultimate prize of gold bullion bars worth £10,000.

In 30 days of the campaign we saw:

  • 14,000 game plays
  • Millions of virtual credits traded
  • Average gameplay @ 8mins+
  • 200 days of brand exposure
  • Massive on and offline press coverage

The game was subsequently used at a Blogger event, and as an internal comms tool to help staff training, getting greater bang for their buck.


7. EE – phone recycling web site


When Orange changed colour and became EE, we were proud to be part of the team that launched the new brand online. Working with Regenersis plc we created EE’s phone recycling portal, which was used both by consumers online and sales staff at point of sale.

The site manages the complete phone buyback process from EE shops, including giving quotes to customers, checking IMEI details and posting envelopes. The system was integrated into warehouse stock and pricing details, and allowed tracking once phones were posted.

Getting the site to “go” in the timeframe was a challenge, and required working with a number of different departments and agencies, working with brand guidelines which were – in effect – still being road tested. We were proud that a number of our CSS suggestions made their way back into the brand guidelines for others to benefit from 🙂


8. Topshop Tumblrcustomised style blog

Topshop Tumblr

During the mid to late 00’s we worked with Topshop in a range of ways, from building social platforms, Facebook apps & pages, and even the build & testing of their weekly HTML sales emails.

However our favourite Topshop job was the Tumblr blog. Visitors enjoy a multitude of photos of the latest stock, non-Topshop trends and style tips as curated (and often modelled) by their team, or submitted to the site. To support the design vision we built an innovative custom Tumblr theme (including a moderation area for submitted user photos). It was also one of the earliest responsively optimised designs we produced.


9. A4e Superstarsrewards and recognition campaign

A4e Superstars

We have done a lot of work over the years for internal comms and HR teams. This rewards and recognition campaign for A4e was one of many we have run since 2009 – each with similar engagement results.

The mechanic was a leaderboard into which line managers recorded team’s performance against KPI’s. Points added up to weekly prizes (such as sweets, or duvet days). The “A4e Superstars” app was hosted within the corporate intranet and in its first outing (there has been several more since) proved extremely successful – all the below data came from the A4e HR team:

  • Staff performance nominations were up from 2-3 per month to 300 a month
  • 95% of branches showed a performance increase by at least 10%
  • It played an important part in reducing staff turnover from 38% to 29% year-on-year

All weekly activity, including prizes and campaign parameters (eg duration) was fully controlled by the client.


10. Monarch Airlinesimmersive innovation

Monarch Airlines

In late 2013 we worked with WDMP to position Monarch Airlines as the ‘go to’ airline for the digitally curious independent skier. The campaign – built on the concept of the “Monarch Mountain” – utilized two innovative digital apps which brought the concept to life, in the process creating a UK-first.

We had been playing with the new virtual reality platform (and recent Facebook acquiree) Oculus Rift and had a developer kit in the office – we thought, what better way to excite people about skiing than letting them jump off the Monarch Mountain?! The experience was a “Ski Jump” game, which allowed players to literally jump off the mountain, the winner being the person who landed closest to a target. To help with in game motion, we hacked a Wii Fit board and set up two ski poles for balance. The game launched in October 2013 at the Ski and Snowboard Show (held in Manchester and London) it thrilled over 2000 screaming skiers!

See a video here: http://vimeo.com/79978654

The second digital element of the Monarch Mountain campaign was a 360 degree photosphere which transported visitors to a stunning high definition mountain top and ski slope. The mountain even had realistic falling snow and sound. The solution worked responsively across desktop, mobile and tablet – which meant that no app needed to be downloaded, often a significant barrier to engagement and social sharing.

You can still see the photosphere here: http://mountain.monarch.co.uk/

Navigating the mountain on a tablet or phone is a lot of fun – you can simply tilt your screen, and pinch to zoom – letting you travel to new areas.


That brings back the memories, 10 years of tech innovation. Which of the projects above do you like the look of? We like em all – but what’s your fave? 

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