Author: Fran Hazeldine, BBH London
We’re really excited about the new platform created for Burberry by BBH London and our partners (& buddies), Made by Many.
Art of the Trench is inspired by an iconic Burberry product: the trench coat. Commissioned by the UK War Office in 1914, the Burberry trench coat has endured as a wardrobe staple and continues to be a key business driver for the brand.
Over the long-term, Art of the Trench will host a series of participative projects. The first of these projects is a social gallery featuring hundreds of trench-owner portraits, creating a living document of the trench coat and the people who wear it. Capitalising on the street style phenomenon, the launch site features a collaboration with celebrated photographer / blogger Scott Schuman – aka The Sartorialist (in fact in today’s post on his site Scott highlights a few of his favorite shots).
As new content collaborations unfold, Art of the Trench will also release new functionality, with the platform evolving in ‘permanent beta’.
Visitors to artofthetrench.com can explore the trench portraits on a huge interactive canvas, using filters to sort by gender, styling, weather and popularity – a simple combination of ‘art and the algorithm‘, to use a BBH Labs catchphrase. Visitors can then add comments and rate images, as well as creating a profile and making their own collections. Finally, trench-owning visitors are invited to submit their own trench portraits. Burberry Creative Director Christopher Bailey will hand-pick the very best to be curated on the site.
The platform integrates with Facebook, allowing Burberry’s 700 000 fans to simply ‘connect’ with and import their Facebook profile rather than creating yet another new profile. When on the site, users can choose to share content, links and activity from Art of the Trench across their Facebook and Twitter networks. Whilst most Luxury brands have been slow to exploit the social web, Burberry – with the Live show streaming event and now Art of the Trench – continues to show that a luxury brand can use social media to be simultaneously exclusive and accessible.
Whilst the initial photographer collaborations focus on the contemporary world of the trench, future Art of the Trench projects will also explore Burberry’s rich heritage. At launch, a stunning interactive timeline will allow users to explore a multimedia exhibition of trench coats and related archive content from across the decades.
Art of the Trench was conceived, designed and developed using an integrated agile approach. The combined BBH, Made by Many and Burberry project team adopted agile xnx working practices that integrated BBH’s Engagement Planning and Content disciplines with Made by Many’s Service / Interaction Design and Technology capabilities, and Burberry’s growing internal digital team.
In terms of technology, Art of the Trench successfully combines an open source (Ruby on Rails) back-end with a very rich Flash interface. Only a handful of services have so far integrated Facebook Connect into a Flash application of this complexity. The project has taken 16 weeks to develop from a standing start. Development took place in six, two-week iterations.
If you’d like to be one of the first users to browse the site, leave a comment or submit a trench portrait, please take a few minutes to explore the site today. On a more prosaic note, let us know if you come across any bugs – we’ll be updating with minor bug fixes later this week.