Entertainment brands.. showing us how transmedia is done

Last week was Pixel Lab, Power to the Pixel‘s (@powertothepixel) cross-media workshop.

I joined a group of tutors and producers, half with film/transmedia projects in development, half not, from around the world for the latter half of their week away in Wales.

By way of introduction, Power to the Pixel are an organisation dedicated to supporting film and the wider media in its transition to a digital age. Ben and I are both lucky to be on their Advisory board.

My brief was to shed some light on brands and cross-platform/transmedia storytelling, which, if I am honest, initially felt a little awkward. Brands and agencies may be embracing cross-platform creativity and integration per se, but true transmedia… not so much. The likes of Campfire with their Frenzied Waters work for the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week last year, Audi Art of the Heist and – back in the day – Beta 7 for Sega; as well as Ivan Askwith at Big Spaceship (who was generous and interested enough to chew the fat with me late one evening) are two, honourable exceptions.

With this in mind, my presentation focused primarily on what brands and their agencies are learning about integration, interaction and new partnerships in the hypersocial environment we find ourselves in. I also attempted to explain why brands may be reticent about taking a step further into building deep, immersive, narrative worlds.  Along the way, telling the story of a (failed) BBH Labs joint venture and what we took from it… and finally, ending with a proposal.

That proposal was simply this: that producers should look beyond viewing brands as “promoters” (cf the current raft of Toy Story 3 and The A-Team tie-ups) and consider them as partners instead. Develop stories together that add value to the overarching narrative (think Jeep for Lost Experience) AND stay open-minded to the idea of engaging audiences through collective creativity. I summed up this approach via an adaptation of Chris Anderson’s “3-Party” model:

Adapted from Chris Anderson's Three-Party Market (Free, 2009)

As always, we’d love to hear what you think. The presentation is best viewed on slideshare, below.

A Perfect Storm The Social Web, Storytelling And Brands 08 07

Can we imagine deeper partnerships with producers that go beyond straightforward product placement or promotional work?

Is there an opportunity for non-entertainment brands to break properly into transmedia? What examples of best practice are out there?

Most of the videos to accompany the presentation are also saved on slideshare, but I’ve included them here too.  Note the clip from Talladega Nights (you need only watch the first 30 seconds), which at once epitomises the best and worst of all things product placement-related. Enjoy.






Thanks again to Liz Rosenthal, Tishna Molla, founder and producer of Power to the Pixel respectively, for inviting me along to such an extraordinary workshop; Josh Klein and Patti Greaney for endorsing the value of sharing our Crowd Creates / Roo’d experience; Dan Light (@danlight) for walking me through the intricacies of Iron Man 2 and once again to the generous and smart Ivan Askwith (@Ivanovitch) for the time spent sharing his wisdom.