Transmedia – Global Examples (Part 2)

In the world of branding, transmedia has still only played a relatively small part, though with huge potential. The foremost question that has to be put forward to brand managers is whether their brand has a story to tell. In current times though, however big the power of storytelling might be, brand managers are just not inclined to the idea of storytelling for their brands. Nor are they willing to take the risk of putting the baton in the hands of the consumer. They are more interested in selling their product rather than selling the concept of the product. Nevertheless, whenever a brand has a great story to tell, transmedia integration can really add value and radically change the ROI dynamics of the campaign

The best example of transmedia storytelling to date has been the art of the heist for the launch of the Audi A3. In 2006, Audi came up with a revolutionary ad campaign to promote its latest model in the A series. Call it alternate reality, call it transmedia storytelling but the Art of the Heist is termed as the biggest experiential marketing campaign in history. 45mn impressions and more than 500,000 consumers added their version of the story to make a gigantic plot for the original narrative.

A night before the biggest autoshow in America, where the Audi A3 was supposed to make its first appearance, the car gets stolen from the event. Security cameras showed the burglars break a window and drive the car away. This was the start of a 3 month campaign which led consumers to follow bits and pieces of the puzzle in various mediums, none of them totally giving it away. The story was littered with sub plots and random leakages of information led to an infinite combination of solutions that a consumer could reach depending on the mediums they had come in contact with. The events happened in real time so not only could the audience watch the myriad of information related to the heist flowing in, they could also influence it in the smallest possible way. The whole campaign felt like an online movie, where the audience could choose their level of involvement.

From a famous and wanted Art collector, to a renowned game developer to a master thief, the characters added depth to the campaign. The attention to detail was meticulous and hence people kept guessing whether this was a game or for real. Careful attention was given to the authenticity of the information being seeded into the campaign. The hard core audience who were running background checks or delving deeper to find more info to solve the mystery always met with information backed by authentic data. The companies being mentioned in blogs and discussed in communities actually existed. Those companies already existed in the yellow pages with complete legitimate addresses and phone numbers. Ads for those companies had already been posted in magazines and newspapers well before the start of the campaign to build realness for the campaign. Backdated emails, photos, documents, maps and plans of the heist, telephone conversations, text messages and video logs were being revealed at opportune times through the mediums most suitable for their delivery and as the campaign progressed, the complex web of information made sure that the audience had several if not infinite possibilities to choose from.

Even though movies, tv series and narratives have been using the services of transmedia to both broaden the horizon and make use of the long tail to extend the effectiveness, Art of the Heist was the first time a brand had taken leverage from this unique concept. More recently the TV series Heroes has taken the idea to a new level. The nbc microsite is the center point or the aggregator of all information related to Heroes. So its not the TV series which is in the middle of it all or leading the story, even though it is still the most powerful way to further the narrative, but it’s the microsite which amalgamates the various parallel stories. Several characters from the movie run live blogs about micro details in the story which don’t have enough place in the 1 hour episode on TV. Meanwhile, elements from the story have a parallel life of their own. For example, the TV series follows a comic book artist who can draw the future and one of the characters figures out his future through the comic book. On the microsite though, the comic book becomes bigger than what it is on TV. Back dated issues of the comic complete the puzzle as to what led to the current issue of the comic revealing the future of the hero. Audiences are pulled into the experience by getting involved and taking the story forward in the comic books. Alternate endings or connecting the thread in the comics to the story on TV are what helps build a community where the story keeps growing and becomes more intricate with every new user added to the mix. There are multiple other parallel plots and sub plots taking place in the form of webisodes which people can forward to their friends. Biographies, history and conspiracy theories related to the characters being revealed only in special radio episodes. Often new characters are added to the mix which never find their way into TV but twist the story in all kinds of tangents on parallel mediums.

in part 3 of this article i will be talking about the Pakistani perspective on transmedia and some pitfalls which need to be avoided if transmedia storytelling has to work for brands

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~ by illuxon on January 20, 2010.

One Response to “Transmedia – Global Examples (Part 2)”

  1. Hi,

    Nice to see your blog giving some valuable info. I have heard of transmedia experiences but never heard of this case. Thanks.

    Looking forward to reading on the local perspective

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