It was a year when branded entertainment exploded and brands rushed to show their transmedia credentials and engage with their fans.
From Red Bull’s journey to the edge of space to GE’s artist commissioned murals on the billboard-less streets of Sao Paulo, Branded Art & Entertainment took many forms, and had varying levels of impact.
There were brand created films everywhere and no expenses were spared to make these films stand out.
Prada enlisted Helena Bonham Carter and Ben Kingsley for its artsy film A Therapy, while ASOS Black and Puma hit the streets of Sao Paulo with graffiti artists in the Pixadores and Jacobs Creek sat down with Tennis legend Andre Agassi for the Open Up film series.
Music played a significant role in engaging audiences around the world from Melbourne Metro’s infectious Dumb Ways to Die, Ikea’s fun filled Playin With My Friends and The Sydney Opera House’s magical The Ship Song Project.
Then there were the collaborations, Converse teamed up with Gorillaz, Andre 3000 and LCD Sound System’s James Murphy to create a single as part of the brand’s music initiative Converse Rubber Tracks, Toni & Guy enlisted an army of bloggers to create a glamourous look book, and Adidas launched a celebrity soaked global transmedia campaign featuring a banging track by Nicky Minaj.
Brands also plunged into experiential exhibitions and installations to create immersive brand experiences; Audi brought the future to Copenhagen with Audi Spheres, GE's Two Words For Tomorrow took digital waterfalls of data to the streets of Australia’s capital cities and Nike’s Camp Victory brought the US Athletics Olympics trials to life.
There were famous directors: Wes Anderson for Sony Mobile, Ridley Scott for Coca-Cola. Famous faces Guy Pearce’s TED talk in the transmedia campaign for Prometheus, Ryan Seacrest & Joel McHale as the faces of Ford’s trandmedia campaign for Fusion. And who could forget the branded entertainment spectacular that was Skyfall?
Amongst the stream of content in 2012 one trend became clear; the brands who dared to take risks, were rewarded. Many efforts were good, a number were outstanding and some were simply remarkable. They are the ideas that Branded Arts Review has selected as the best of 2012.
The work that was notable for being truly transmedia, that played out across a number of platforms and channels, that pushed boundaries, broke rules and most significantly that engaged and united the public.
Google was on a mission to prove it was more than a search engine this year, using global ad campaigns to engage audiences with the brand and its suite of products through powerful and emotive messaging.
However, it was the work Google did in the branded arts and entertainment space that was particularly extraordinary. The brand, which has been dipping its toes into content creation for some time, turned to branded art, in the guise of two unique exhibitions, to showcase its browser Google Chrome.
The two exhibitions, Web Labs at London’s Science Museum and This Exquisite Forest at Tate Modern, were unique in providing dual experiences both in the physical realm at the museums and galleries as well as online.
The projects were immersive, engaging, rule breaking and boundary pushing. They also gave an online-only brand a physical presence and a whole new audience of artists to engage with. The exhibitions were transmedia playing out in the physical exhibitions and in the online space and they gave consumers a new way to engage with Google. Craftily they also required users to use Chrome to get the full experience of the exhibitions and in doing so enlisted an army of users – once you go Chrome you never go back.
AT&T’s ambitious transmedia storytelling experience ‘Daybreak’ exploded earlier this year. Teaming up with BBDO, North Kingdom, RSA Films and Tim Kring, who created Heroes, Touch and Daybreak, AT&T created a compelling online series that hooked fans and impressed many.
The online series began on TV through the TV series Touch and swiftly moved online where the mysterious story unfolded through webisodes, online games, mobile apps, and social media.
Fans were able to follow the story, while also interacting with the content and unlocking more content. Daybreak integrates the storytelling of the online series with the interaction of the mobile game and created a truly transmedia experience for fans. It was a standout example of how brands could blur the lines between viewer and participant while also entertaining and enthralling the audience.
The production integrated AT&T products into the storyline and showcased the innovation and technology of the brand, products and services. Best of all they did this while managing to maintain an authentic entertainment experience despite the product placement. As Kring said,” The technologies and applications we’ve incorporated into the narrative actually helped tell a story that’s more dynamic.”
A truly transmedia branded entertainment exercise, Daybreak proved that brands could create compelling content that audiences want to not only watch but also engage with.
2012 saw Intel, Toshiba and creative agency Pereira & O’Dell return to the social film experience that they mastered in 2011 with Inside to create the even more successful The Beauty Inside, an online experience where viewers became part of the story.
The Beauty Inside followed the transmedia storytelling formula created for Inside and amped up the online blockbuster quality of the film, merging technology, social media and Hollywood to create a whole new form of branded entertainment.
The aim was to engage young audiences and what better way to engage ‘generation me’ than by creating a global casting call over social media and giving fans the chance to appear in the social film. An innovative idea and a super savvy way to get an audience obsessed by Apple products to consider another brand.
The project was a major success proving there is a huge appetite for immersive storytelling experiences. The concept was groundbreaking and pushed boundaries. It was an innovative and refreshing and a standout against the other branded entertainment projects.
To celebrate its involvement with the London 2012 Olympics, Coca Cola launched its biggest Olympics activation in the history of the brand’s 84 year sponsorship of the games. The transmedia activity had a bit of everything and provided a brilliant case study for brands combing sponsorship, advertising, experiences and branded arts and entertainment.
For Coca-Cola it was all about storytelling, and what stories they told. And as the games rolled on it became clear that the success of the games, the exhilaration and joy of the successes was providing one hell of a halo for coca-cola and its uplifting anthem.
Move to the Beat had a little bit of everything from the anthem created by Mark Ronson, to the online gaming experiences, music sharing apps, there was all the usual advertising activity as well as online films, feature-length documentaries, a TV show, public art works, interactive installations and the events all around London. The Beatbox installation particularly was a standout for me, the structure was erected in the Olympic venue and enabled people to climb up for a spectacular view as well as interact and create sounds (beats).
Coke's campaign encompassed the passion and drive of the games and shared stories and experiences. There was no confusion about Coke's presence and involvement with the Olympic Games, Coke owned the games.
Hands down this was the most significant global transmedia branded arts and entertainment campaign launched by a brand in 2012. It ticks all the boxes for innovation, ground breaking, boundary pushing and engaging audiences. And yet it got pipped to the top spot in our top ten.
“So if I buy a Coke, they spend my money advertising Coke. But if I buy Red Bull, they launch people to the edge of space and let them jump? Sold.” This tweet encapsulates perfectly exactly why Coke is in number 2 and Red Bull’s breathtaking Stratos project is BAR’s number one transmedia branded arts and entertainment idea in 2012.
The most outrageously ambitious execution of Red Bull’s extensive branded entertainment catalogue, and like all great risks it has paid off ten fold with immense attention and a huge ramp up in awareness of the brand.
Everyman on the street now knows that Red Bull is the drink for people who push the boundaries, who dare to dream and then act out the craziest of ideas.
The drama of the project couldn’t have been scripted better if it was written in Hollywood, with the dramas of delays, dangerous conditions and aborted jumps.
The king of branded content and the posterchild for transmedia storytelling has proven time and again that brands can engage audiences by creating authentic and engaging content, regardless of whether it is events, arts, entertainment, products, space adventures.
Stratos showed just how significant a role brands can play in society and with three world records, more than 27 Million YouTube views, 8 million lives views and literally masses of PR and media attention, Stratos is estimated to be worth as much as $155 million AUD (GBP 100 million).
Much has been said about this project, but very little has been negative. It ticks all the boxes and then some. Red Bull took the bar and raised it into space and it will be a while before someone steals their crown… or will it?
Here’s to 2013 and a new wave of transmedia branded entertainment ideas.